El Padrino wins Risen Star Stakes

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Favorite El Padrino edged Mark Valeski in a close finish to win the Grade-2 $300,000 Risen Star Stakes on Saturday, the final prep for the Louisiana Derby.

Neither horse was separated by more than a neck for most of the final stretch, leaving the rest of the field of 11 up the track.

El Padrino, trained by Todd Pletcher, paid $3.60, $2.80 and $2.20. It was his third win in five career races and his first in a graded race. He went off as the 3-5 favorite, and jockey Javier Castellano coaxed just enough out of him to justify those odds.

Mark Valeski, part of a dual entry by trainer Larry Jones, paid $3.20 and $2.40. Z Dager took third and paid $3.20 to show.

The Louisiana Derby is April 1, five weeks before the Kentucky Derby.