A couple of longshots worth a second look is Steve Asmussen’s Proud Strike and Gennadi Dorochenko’s Bethel. Yes, they’re on the extreme ends of longshot with Proud Strike at 8-1 on the morning line and Bethel at 50-1, but both are lightly raced and include a person of interest among their connections.
Proud Strike exits a 7 ½ length maiden victory over an off-track Jan. 12 at the Fair Grounds. Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens will be aboard to help this son of Smart Strike get on the Kentucky Derby points board. Stevens returned to racing Jan. 6 after a nearly eight-year retirement and has already grabbed a stakes win. In his last attempt at the Risen Star in 2005, he nailed down a victory aboard Scipion.
Bethel’s only win came at the distance and on the track in a $30,000 maiden claimer Jan. 27. In his four lifetime starts, he’s had three trainers and will get his fourth new jockey, Iram Diego, on Saturday. There’s not much that stands out in Bethel’s past performances to think he’ll have a shot in this field. However, his trainer is the same Fair Grounds-based trainer that shocked the world last year when he saddled Louisiana Derby longshot winner Hero of Order. Not that Dorochenko can strike gold again, but it warrants a mention.
The remainder of the field includes Bob Baffert’s Code West, Joe McAnally’s Agent, LeComte runner-up Golden Soul, Tom Amoss’s Mylute, David Bank’s Hardrock Eleven, fourth-place finisher in the LeComte Ive Struck a Nerve, He’s Had Enough who’ll likely scratch in favor of the Fountain of Youth, Bashford Manor winner Circle Unbroken, and Al Stall’s duo Departing and Sunbean.
The race is the 10th on Fair Ground’s Saturday card with a scheduled post time of 5:57 p.m. It can be seen on HRTV and TVG. Free PPs for both the Fountain of Youth and Risen Star stakes are provided by Brisnet.
Photo: Courtesy Fair Grounds Race Course