The immortal Triple Crown winner Secretariat was somewhat of a disappointment at stud, but he did manage to sire a few impressive progeny. One of them was Risen Star, who won the 1988 Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
In the 1988 Kentucky Derby, he went off at odds of 5-1, the third choice behind eventual Winning Colors and Private Terms, who were the co-favorites at 7/2. He finished third in that race beaten three lengths but he had a very wide trip throughout, and if he had gotten a more ideal ground saving trip, we might have seen our 12th Triple Crown winner. It is difficult to say, however, as Winning Colors was very strong that day. His trainer Louie Roussel believes he could have won the Triple Crown with just a little more racing luck in the Derby.
It was no surprise that in the Preakness Stakes, Winning Colors was made the favorite. Risen Star went off at 6-1 this time, but an early speed duel between Winning Colors and Forty Niner, the Derby runner up, compromised their chances, which set the race up for Risen Star who ran Winning Colors down, and ended up winning the race by a driving 1 ¼ lengths. Winning Colors finished faded to third.
Three weeks later, in a performance reminiscent of his sire, Risen Star drew away from the field of 5 others powerfully to win by 14 3/4 lengths, stopping the clock in a time of 2:26 2/5 under Eddie Delahoussaye, which up to that time was the second fastest Belmont Stakes ever run, the fastest being that of his father, Secretariat who ran it in 2:24 flat.
He suffered an injury in the Belmont and was retired, but he was given the Eclipse Award for the top three-year-old colt of 1988.
Risen Star won 8 of 11 career starts, including 5 of his last 6, his only loss in that stretch coming in the 1988 Kentucky Derby to Winning Colors who was in peak form that day. He never finished out of the money in his career. He retired with over $2 million in earnings.
Risen Star died on March 13, 1998, at Walmac International. The Risen Star Stakes for 3-year-olds is named in his honor and is an important prep race for the Kentucky Derby. The race is held every year at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.
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