airoforce leads the pack heading in to 2016 risen star stakes

Airoforce To Debut At Risen Star Stakes

Airoforce has been curiously absent from industry news in the months following his Kentucky Jockey Club victory last November. That will change as he takes part in the Risen Star Stakes and a shot at the $400,000 purse.  The 1 1/16th mile race is named after Risen Star, the winner of the 1988 Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

The three-year old Airoforce has watched his stock amongst other Triple Crown hopefuls stagnate as others have started to make some vibrant, earth rattling moves. Mor Spirit and Mohayman are now seen as the main threats to the unbelievable Nyquist who still leads the three-year old class. The final standings of the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager saw some radical shifts in power, but Airoforce went from just 18/1 to 16/1 over the weekend. It’s not that much of an improvement, though it’s obvious that there is still some intrigue for Airoforce amongst horse players.

To justify that faith, the Mark Casse trainee is going to have his hands full in the 1 1/16th mile Risen Star Stakes. He will be challenged mainly by Mo Tom out of GMB Racing. Trained by Thomas Amoss, Mo Tom has 2-0-2 in four races during his juvenile season. He won the Street Sense and the Lecomte to earn stakes grade victories in 2015, but finished third in his opening allowance and again at the aforementioned Kentucky Jockey Club that Airoforce won.

Tom’s Ready, who finished as runner-up to Mo Tom at the Lecomte, is still in search of his first graded stakes win. He is one of the hopefuls to finish on the podium and there will be some interesting money coming in on him to at least show.

The dark horse in the Risen Star Stakes will undoubtedly be In Equality, who finished third at the recent Jerome Stakes behind Flexibility and Vorticity. This will be just his second graded stakes contest, but there’s definitely some intrigue here as well.

Still, most of the focus in this race is how much Airoforce dominates 13 horse field. You’ll have to tune in on February 20th to find out if Airoforce is really ready to challenge for the Triple Crown as he makes his 2016 debut at the Risen Star Stakes.

Mohaymen will run at the Holly Bull Stakes at Gulfstream

Mohaymen Breezing For Holly Bull Stakes

Mohaymen stands as one of the early favourites for the 2016 Triple Crown circuit, and will look to begin his march towards the spring gauntlet at the Holly Bull Stakes.

The Holly Bull Stakes is a GR2 grind run over 1 1/16 mile on Gulfstream Park’s dirt track, offering a purse of $400,000. This year’s event will run on January 30th as part of The Road to the Kentucky Derby with a 10-4-2-1 points split awarded to the top-four finishers.

Mohaymen has been unbeatable in his three starts as a juvenile, winning a maiden at Belmont Park in September before smashing the competition at the Nashua and Remsen at Aqueduct. In both of those GR2 races, Moyahmen bested Flexibility who recently won the Jerome to start his journey to the Triple Crown circuit.

Kiaran McLaughlin seems thrilled with Mohyamen's prep for the Holly Bull Stakes
Kiaran McLaughlin seems thrilled with Mohyamen’s prep for the Holly Bull Stakes

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is a big fan of the Holly Bull Stakes, a race he won in 2014 with Cairo Prince. “He was great and happy,” McLaughlin noted during Moyahmen’s breezing runs at Palm Meadows Training Center. “He might skip a work but he’s going to probably work weekly and point for the race at the end of the month.”

The results of this race will have a big impact on how handicappers continue to play the Kentucky Derby Futures Wager as well. Mohaymen ended the first pool of betting as the second favourite at 11/1. He stands behind Nyquist, who earned 9/1 odds to win the Kentucky Derby, and will begin his 2016 season at the San Vicente on February 15th. The next window for wagering on KDFW will be February 12th thru 14th.

The field for the 2016 Holly Bull Stakes is still in the process of being declared, but Mohaymen will enter as the odds on favourite.

The most famous winner of the Holly Bull Stakes is Barbaro, who would also go on to win the 2006 Kentucky Derby. Barbaro is remembered in Preakness Stakes history for breaking his leg in 20 places at the end of the race. If not for the quick thinking of jockey Edgar Prado, Barbaro’s life would’ve ended there. The 2006 Holly Bull Stakes winner is honoured on Preakness Day with the Barbaro Stakes.