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New Orleans Trivia

blakeview: Risen Star


With Tom and Gayle Benson making news this week with their  horses — Tom's Ready and Mo Tom — racing in the Kentucky Derby, we remember a previous Louisiana entrant: Risen Star, son of the legendary Triple Crown winner Secretariat. Risen Star was co-owned by auto dealer Ronnie Lamarque and businessman Louis Roussel III. Roussel also is a horse trainer and former owner of the Fair Grounds Race Track & Slots. According to Bob Roesler's book, The Fair Grounds: Big Shots & Long Shots, Roussel named the horse after attending Christmas Mass. Risen Star's rise to fame started slowly, with the horse winning the 1988 Louisiana Derby and the Lexington Stakes. Ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Eddie Delahoussaye, Risen Star finished third in the Kentucky Derby. Even so, the horse made headlines, as did Lamarque, who famously penned songs about the thoroughbred (to the tune of "New York, New York" and "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans") and sang them on television. Risen Star went on to win the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. Roussel, a deeply religious man, believed in the power of prayer and had the help of the Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of nuns to whom Roussel promised 10 percent of Risen Star's winnings. The horse died in 1998 but is memorialized by the annual Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds Race Course.

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