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Rogue Romance third in Risen Star for seasonal debut

After battling jockey Julien Leparoux in the early stages, Rogue Romance found his best stride late and rallied from seventh to gain third in the $300,000 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at the Fair Grounds on February 19 as he took his first steps on the classic trail.

Fans sent the Runnymede-bred son of Smarty Jones off as the 2.10-to-1 favorite in his first race since the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), and while he may have lost his chance when rank on the backstretch, he finished well and seems sure to improve off the effort.

Rogue Romance flashed under the wire 2 ¾ lengths behind winner Mucho Macho Man with Santiva second. Time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:43.98 following a pedestrian pace of :24.67, :49.24 and 1:13.65 that favored frontrunners including Mucho Macho Man, who had gained the lead through six furlongs after rating in second during the first half-mile.

“We are disappointed that he didn’t win, but Rogue Romance was very rank early on, throwing his head and fighting with the rider,” said Runnymede General Manager Martin O’Dowd, who traveled to New Orleans for the Risen Star while representing farm Chairman Catesby W. Clay, who races Rogue Romance.

“Third is all right,” O’Dowd said, adding that the chestnut son of Smarty Jones returned to test barn bucking and playing as if he had not raced. “He seems to have come back OK and there will be other races.”

The $30,000 third-place prize increased Rogue Romance’s career earnings to $321,150. He has won two of five starts and finished third twice, with his other third coming in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. His only other effort was a fourth-place finish in his debut last year.