Midway Road will make his 4-year-old bow Thursday at Fair Grounds in the ninth race, the featured $34,000 allowance/optional-claiming event. The Neil Howard trainee has not raced for nearly nine months.
Last year the son of Jade Hunter
finished second in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) behind Funny Cide. Following that performance, he ran third in the grade II Ohio Derby after encountering significant traffic trouble. Midway Road came out of that effort with a small fracture in a hind ankle didn't require surgery but forced him to miss the remainder of a promising 3-year-old campaign.
"Unfortunately, he came out of the Ohio Derby with a small fracture in his hind ankle," said Howard. "We're just now getting him back again, and (the allowance race) is the first step back."
Midway Road shows a series of quick works for his comeback, which includes a sharp six-furlong move in 1:12 4/5 on Mar. 9. "He's been training well," said Howard. "He is still eligible for the condition, so we're going to take advantage of it."
Midway Road has won three of nine lifetime starts, with earnings better than $323,000 for owner and breeder William S. Farish.
Howard said if all goes well in New Orleans, he is considering the April 22 Ben Ali Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland for the colt. Regular rider Robby Albarado will be aboard Midway Road on Thursday.
Howard also said that his trio of top 3-year-olds, Breakaway
(by Silver Deputy
) and Gradepoint
, (by A.P. Indy
who finished fourth and eighth in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II), respectively, and Shadow Cast
, (by Smart Strike
) who finished third in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), all returned from those efforts in good order. Definite plans are still up in the air, but Breakaway is being considered for the grade I $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and the grade I $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, both to be run April 10. Gradepoint could make the switch over to turf for his next start in the $100,000 Forerunner Stakes on Apr. 15 at Keeneland. Shadow Cast is being considered for the $200,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. II) at Oaklawn Park on Apr. 9.