A collection of familiar faces to Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots will line up Feb. 7 in the Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III), which is part of the six-stakes “Louisiana Derby Preview Day” card scheduled for the New Orleans-area track.
Eight horses are entered in the Mineshaft, which is for horses 4-years-olds and up at 1 1/16-miles on the main dirt track. Seven of the entrants have Fair Grounds' victories on their resumes, including the 2008 winner of the Mineshaft, and the top three finishers of the Jan. 10 Louisiana Handicap.
Defending Mineshaft winner Grasshopper , who tops the field with $820,352 in earnings and has a 4-6-2 record in 14 lifetime starts, is owned by W.S. Farish, Edward Hudson Jr., and Inwood Stable. Trained by Neil Howard, the 5-year-old son of Dixie Union will be ridden by regular rider Robby Albarado, who was aboard Grasshopper when he finished second to Street Sense in the 2007 Travers Stakes (gr. I).
Reigning Super Derby (gr. II) winner My Pal Charlie is making his 2009 debut after closing out last year with a fourth in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile won by Albertus Maximus. The 4-year-old son of Indian Charlie, who is owned by B. Wayne Hughes and trained by Albert Stall Jr., will carry a high weight of 121 pounds under jockey Curt C. Bourque.
Also in the field are the 1-2-3 finishers in this year’s Louisiana Handicap: James and Alice Sapara's Good and Lucky, Sand and Cee Stables' Secret Getaway, and Fox Hill Farm's grade III winner Honest Man.
Good and Lucky, a 6-year-old gelded son of Wild Rush, scored a one-length victory under Patrick Valenzuela over Secret Getaway in the 1 11/16-miles Louisiana Handicap, with Honest Man another 11/4-lengths back. Valenzuela gets the return mount on Good and Lucky, who is trained by Josie Carroll.
Honest Man, who is trained by Larry Jones and will be ridden by Gabriel Saez, joins Grasshopper, My Pal Charlie, and Jim Tafel’s Coragil Cat as graded-stakes winners entered in the Mineshaft. Honest Man, a 5-year-old son of Unbridled's Song, won last year's Philip H. Iselin Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park, while Coragil Cat, a 5-year-old son of Forest Wildcat trained by Greg Geier, won the 2008 edition of the Hanshin Cup Handicap (gr. III) at Arlington Park.
Rounding out the field are Northwestern Stables’ Smokeyjonessutton and Stephanie Clark’s Brothers Nicholas, who will be ridden by Jamie Theriot and Edgar Prado, respectively.
$125,000 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. IIII, Race 6, 2:55 p.m. CST), 4 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight
1. Secret Getaway, James Graham, 119
2. Good and Lucky, Patrick A. Valenzuela, 120
3. Smokeyjonessutton, Jamie Theriot, 112
4. Grasshopper , Robby Albarado, 119
5. My Pal Charlie, Curt C. Bourque, 121
6. Coragil Cat, Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr., 114
7. Brothers Nicholas, Edgar S. Prado, 116
8. Honest Man, Gabriel Saez, 119