After Rogue Romance was made the 3-1 morning line favorite while drawing the inside post for the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at the Fair Grounds on February 19, trainer Ken McPeek expressed strong confidence in the Runnymede-bred colt.
“We’re just as confident in (Rogue Romance) as we were with Repent,” McPeek said, referring to his 2002 Risen Star and Louisiana Derby (G2) winner.
Rogue Romance, known around Runnymede as “The Rogue,” will take on nine rivals in the 1 1/16-mile Risen Star and will carry 120 pounds under conditions of the race, giving seven rivals four pounds. Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) winner Santiva will carry high weight of 122 pounds and Delta Downs stakes winner Decisive Moment also will shoulder 120 pounds.
While Rogue Romance earned early success on turf, winning two starts on grass as a two-year-old prior to his third-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in his first start on dirt, McPeek said he is a versatile runner and should not be categorized as a turf horse.
“He doesn’t have a turf foot, he doesn’t have a turf pedigree, he doesn’t have turf conformation,” McPeek pointed out in an interview with the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “I just gave him turf races to get two-turn experience. There are no two-turn dirt preps for the Breeders’ Cup. I’m more comfortable focusing my horses to go two turns. If a horse has talent, they're going to run on grass or dirt or synthetic or whatever. They're going to run good.”
Rogue Romance, bred in partnership with Runnymede Chairman Catesby W. Clay, runs in Clay’s name. The colt by Smarty Jones will be making his first start of 2011 and has been pleasing McPeek in his training, sparking the trainer to say that he has grown stronger and faster over the winter.
“It’s going to take an awful good horse to beat him,” McPeek declared.
Following is the field for the Risen Star (post time approximately 5:46 EST):
Post Position Runner Jockey Trainer ML Odds
1 Rogue Romance Leparoux McPeek 3-1
2 Liondrive Sutherland Ice 50-1
3 Decisive Moment Clark Arias 9-2
4 Pants on Fire Bravo Breen 6-1
5 Much Macho Man Coa Ritvo 4-1
6 Machen Theriot Howard 6-1
7 Santiva Smith Kenneally 6-1
8 Action Ready Napravnik Calhoun 12-1
9 Justin Phillip Bridgmohan Asmussen 8-1
10 Sorgho Martin Bennett 30-1