When the field was drawn for Saturday's $400,000 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course, trainer Al Stall Jr. was obviously hoping his two 3-year-olds would get in with good post positions.
The two colts, Departing and Sunbean, both got into the race, but with less than desirable posts. Departing drew post 14 and Sunbean was placed as the also eligible as the 15th horse in the field. Both colts are 12-1 in the morning line.
However, with just 14 horses allowed to run, Sunbean would have been left out of the starting gate if not for the fact that He's Had Enough was also entered in Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Doug O'Neill, trainer of He's Had Enough, sent the colt to Gulfstream for the Fountain of Youth leaving both of Stall's 3-year-olds in the Risen Star field. If both colts start they will be next to each other in the starting gate.
"We don't want to run two horses from the 13- and 14-holes. I don't know what to do with Departing, as far as if there's one scratch or two. We'll just ride things out. We're not going to train the horses any different. We'll talk about running Saturday morning, I guess," Stall said Wednesday.
Sunbean was also entered in Saturday's $60,000 Gentilly Stakes at Fair Grounds, a mile grass race restricted to Louisiana-bred 3-year-olds and is the 3-1 morning line favorite.
"I probably would think (trainer) Al (Stall Jr.) would prefer to run Sunbean in the Gentilly," owner Evelyn Benoit said. "One of the reasons I wanted to run Sunbean in the Risen Star was because the race was right outside our door, but so is the Gentilly. I'm just happy the horse is not going to be sitting in the barn on such a big day. If he runs well in the Gentilly, maybe I can bring him back and run him in the Louisiana Derby (March 30)."
The probability of less than 14 horses running in the Risen Star pleases Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell who has Palace Malice in the race. The lightly raced colt drew post 6 and is 8-1 in the program with local jockey Rosie Napravnik slated to ride.
"I'd rather not have all the traffic problems (Palace Malice) might have with a field full, so for us, the fewer horses we face the better," Campbell said Wednesday from South Carolina. "Of course, a lot of times you can end up with traffic problems in a five-horse field. Sometimes it works out that way, as well. But we're all looking forward to coming down there Friday. I look forward to seeing all my friends at Fair Grounds and I always look forward to coming back to New Orleans."
Here is the field for the Risen Star in post position order: Proud Strike, Gary Stevens, 8-1; Code West, Martin Garcia, 6-1; Agent, Richard Eramia, 30-1; Golden Soul, Miguel Mena, 20-1; Mylute, Shaun Bridgmohan, 6-1; Palace Malice, Rosie Napravnik, 8-1; Hardrock Eleven, Jamie Theriot, 50-1; Ive Struck a Nerve, James Graham, 30-1; Normandy Invasion, Jose Lezcano, 5-2; Oxbow, Jon Court, 5-1; Bethel, Iram Diego, 50-1; He's Had Enough, Mario Gutierrez, 10-1; Circle Unbroken, Leandro Goncalves, 20-1; Departing, Brian Hernandez Jr., 12-1 and Sunbean, Colby Hernandez, 12-1.