War Story looks for path to victory in La. Derby _lowres

Photo provided by Lou Hodges, Jr. / Hodges Photography -- Kenneth L.& Sarah K. Ramsey's International Star wins the 43rd running of the Risen Star Stakes, (Gr II) at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, LA Saturday, February 21, 2015. Miguel Mena was the winning jockey.

Expect International Star, a winner earlier this year in the Lecomte and Risen Star, to be the favorite at next Saturday’s Grade II $750,000 Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds — baring last-minute entrees.

Thoroughbred owners may enter the derby through 11 a.m. Wednesday, the time of the race’s draw. The event for 3-year-olds over 11?8 miles is the final local prep for the Kentucky Derby.

If the field of eight, as of Saturday afternoon according to Fair Grounds stakes coordinator Scott Jones, stays as it is, the Fair Grounds could have its smallest derby field in years. And for the first time in four seasons, the race’s purse has decreased from its all-time high of $1 million.

But, according to at least one report, there’s at least one entry with a shot at winning a piece of the Triple Crown on May 2 at Churchill Downs. International Star is, after all, the son of Fusaichi Pegasus, the winner of the 2000 Kentucky Derby.

Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trained by Mike Maker, International Star ranks sixth on the ESPN.com Kentucky Derby power rankings. Mr. Z (five) and War Story (one), also confirmed for the Louisiana Derby, received votes in the rankings.

Mr. Z is a product of trainer D. Wayne Lukas with three consecutive third-place finishes. Far Right, another Kentucky Derby hopeful not entered in the Louisiana Derby, has won two of those starts.

War Story will be ridden by his third jockey in as many starts, this time under the direction of Joseph Talamo. War Story previously finished second to International Star in the Lecomte Stakes (on Jan. 17) and Risen Star (on Feb. 21) with meet-leading jockey James Graham, then Kent Desormeaux.

Graham returns to the derby with Keen Ice, which finished behind International Star and War Story in the Risen Star. Also entered is Comfort, a product of trainer Todd Pletcher. Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners acquired the local maiden winner from the barn of Pavel Vashchenko.

A Day in Paradise, trained by Larry Jones, will be ridden by Kerwin Clark.

Altamira Racing Stable’s St. Joe Bay and Defondo (trainer Dallas Stewart), which has placed fourth or better in its four career starts, round out the field of eight as of Saturday afternoon.

The Louisiana Derby, which dates to 1894, has launched two of its winners into the winner’s circle at the Kentucky Derby: Black Gold (1924) and Grindstone (1996). In 1988, Louisiana Derby winner Risen Star won the Preakness and Belmont.

The field, for now

The eight-horse field, as of Saturday, for the Louisiana Derby, set for March 28 at the Fair Grounds:

A Day in Paradise



International Star

Keen Ice

Mr. Z

St. Joe Bay

War Story