In a surprising upset, Ive Struck A Nerve, at odds of 135-1, took down a field of 12 to win Saturday’s $400,000 Grade II Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans, La. The win landed the colt atop the Kentucky Derby Road to the Derby points board with a total of 51 points. Ive Struck A Nerve earned 50 points for the win which combined with the one point he earned for his fourth-place finish in the LeComte Stakes Jan. 19.
Going into the stretch, D. Wayne Lukas’s Oxbow had a narrow lead over Todd Pletcher’s Palace Malice, but Code West and Ive Struck A Nerve quickly closed in on the pair. Ive Struck A Nerve powered home on the outside and took victory from Code West by a nose. Palace Malice and Oxbow were noses apart a half- length behind the winner. Favorite Normandy Invasion was another length back in fifth.
Ive Struck A Nerve is a son of Yankee Gentleman by Ranaway and was bred in Kentucky by former Kentucky governor Brereton Jones. According to Equibase data charts, winning owner Matt Bryan and Big Chief Racing LLC, have only made six starts, all coming this year, and have now won two races.
“I called my wife and told her to get fitted for a Derby hat,” said Bryan. “As long as I live I will re-live this race over and over. We have been waiting for a clean trip and we got it today. Once he got free on the outside we went absolutely crazy.”
The win was the first stakes win for trainer Keith Desormeaux, brother to Kentucky Derby winning jockey Kent Desormeaux, who has been training horses since 1991.
“Every time this horse has gone a distance he’s had some kind of trouble,” said Desormeaux. “We have talked about it several times, Matt Bryan and I, and we just wanted a clean trip at a distance and if he got beat 14 lengths again we’d quit trying, but we have had trouble every trip and James rode him perfectly and obviously he proved what Matt and I knew that he is a nice horse.”
Ive Struck A Nerve returned $272.40, $110.60, and $42.40. Code West paid $8.80 and $5.60 and completed the $2 exacta for $2,295. Palace Malice paid $4.60 and completed the $2 trifecta for $17,787.60. Oxbow completed the $2 superfecta for $70,662.40. The final time for the 1 1/16 mile race over the fast dirt was 1:44:52.
Photo: Courtesy Fair Grounds Race Course