Poor War Story.
Same ole’ International Star.
For the second time in five weeks, this emerging thoroughbred rivalry ended like the previous matchup, with International Star closing fast Saturday evening to take the Grade II $400,000 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds.
Now, with victories in the Lecomte and Risen Stakes, International Star, the son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus, moves to the top of the Kentucky Derby points standings with 71 points, all but assuring a berth to the May 2 race at Churchill Downs.
Looks like the three-year-old, trained by Michael Maker and ridden by Miguel Mena, might live up to his name’s sake.
“It’s been a dream of mine since I was 5 years old to win the Kentucky Derby,” said co-owner Ken Ramsey, a Kentucky native. “This is my shot at the derby.”
International Star’s victory over the 1 1/16-mile dirt course marked his fourth career win with two seconds in eight starts. He covered the 1 1/16-mile course in 143.82 and paid $9.60, $4.60, and $3.40. The victory, worth $240,000, increased International Star’s career earnings to $560,979.
Breaking from post 9, he dropped to the rail before during the clubhouse turn, skimmed the rail at five-sixteenths then squeezed through inside of pacesetter St. Joe Bay, who led for until the stretch before fading to fourth. In the stretch, International Star met up with War Story again, outclassing him and the rest of the field. War Story, hurt by a slow start, finished one length back.
“I was impressed because I made an early move to get through, and he kept running,” Mena said. “He likes the rail.”
War Story’s rider, Kent Desormeaux, unsuccessfully argued that Mena interfered on the clubhouse turn. Keen Ice, directed by meet-leading jockey James Graham, finished third. Race favorite Imperia had no impact on the race, finishing fifth.
Asked if dirt appears to be International Star’s best racing surface, his trainer, Michael Maker, said, “It doesn’t seem like it matters.”
Ramsey said International Star will return to the Fair Grounds for the Grade II Louisiana Derby
As for War Story and a second rematch?
“He ran a good race,” said War Story’s trainer, Tom Amoss. “The owners and I will talk and we’ll make a decision on that in a few days.”