Machen, who is 2 for 2 at the Fair Grounds following another strong victory this past weekend, is now logically being pointed to the Grade 2 Risen Star at the New Orleans oval. One can only believe that the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on March 26 will follow for the relatively inexperienced, but very capable colt.
The Beyer figure for the win on Sunday was only 76, which didn't come close to the 95 he posted in his six furlong debut win on January 2. The Sunday race was one mile and 70 yards, so you might be able to chalk it up to the aforementioned inexperience, especially going around two turns.
Whatever the reason for the slower effort in the second start, Machen has so far earned the right to be the most exciting thing in New Orleans since the Saints were winning the Super Bowl about this time last year. Now, whether he goes on to improve from here is a question that trainer Neil Howard and jockey Jamie Theriot will have to address. I am certainly thinking he will be the favorite in the Risen Star and deservedly so.
Of course, he will have to come through in both the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby if he is to take the next step after that, which would be the Kentucky Derby on May 7. The sad fact, though, is that only two horses have won the Louisiana Derby and then added the Roses afterward (Black Gold in 1924 and Grindstone in 1996). Maybe Machen will be the horse to make it a Triple Crown of Louisiana Derby winners to win the big one on the First Saturday In May.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!