Fordubai Faces Tough Test in Mineshaft
Photo: Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir
Fordubai in the Louisiana Handicap.

Fordubai, winner of the Louisiana Handicap at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots last month, returns to the same 1 1/16-mile distance at the track but will be facing stiffer company in the Feb. 22 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III).

The $150,000 Mineshaft  , named for the Lane's End stallion who won the 2003 New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) at the New Orleans oval, goes as the 12th race on Saturday's card that includes three other graded stakes. The Mineshaft drew a field of nine older horses, all bred in Kentucky.

Trained by Greg Geier for owner-breeder Jim Tafel, Fordubai has won five of his 11 career starts, with earnings of $327,452. In the Louisiana Handicap, jockey Robby Albarado and Fordubai held on for a one-length triumph over Grand Contender and Prayer for Relief, who have also been entered in the Mineshaft.

A 4-year-old colt by E DubaiUnaffordable, by Unrbidled, Fordubai won a listed stakes at Arlington Park and finished second in the Illinois Derby (gr. III) last year. Albarado, Fair Grounds' seven-time leading jockey, and Fordubai will start from the outside 9 post with an impost of 117 pounds. Tafel and Geier have also entered Afford, who gets in at a light 113 pounds.

Grand Contender, a 6-year-old gelded son of Strong Contender  My Twilight Dancer, by Twilight Agenda, is 5-2-4 with earnings of $230,860 in 18 starts. Claimed by trainer Chris Englehart for owner Maggi Moss for $20,000 at Saratoga Race Course in August 2012, Grand Contender won the Delta Mile Stakes at Delta Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel to cap a three-race win streak last year. Trainer Tom Amoss has named James Graham to ride Grand Contender for the first time.

Zayat Stables' Prayer for Relief has extensive stakes success to his credit, as the 6-year-old horse by Jump Start  Sparklin Lil, by Mr. Sparkles, has six stakes wins among his eight career victories, with his five second-place finishes and five thirds all coming in stakes company. The earner of $1,590,913 has grade II wins in the West Virginia Derby and Super Derby, both in 2011, and in the grade III Iowa Derby and Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap.

Prayer for Relief is the 121-pound high weight and will be ridden by Corey Nakatani.

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has the call on Repole Stable's Micromanage, a 4-year-old colt by Medaglia d'Oro  Catnip, by Flying Paster, a New York ship-in for trainer Todd Pletcher. Winner of the Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth Park, Micromanage has also placed in five stakes, including a third in William Hill Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I) last year.

$150,000 Mineshaft Handicap
(gr. III, Race 12, approximate post time 5:55 p.m. CST), 4YO&Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Micromanage (KY), M E Smith, 116, T A Pletcher
2. Grand Contender (KY), J Graham, 117, T M Amoss
3. Afford (KY), B J Hernandez Jr., 113, G Geier
4. Ground Transport (KY), M Guidry, 115, M Stidham
5. Mister Marti Gras (KY), S Bridgmohan, 116, N L Pessin
6. Stephanoatsee (KY), R E Eramia, 112, D M Carroll
7. Prayer for Relief (KY), C S Nakatani, 121, S M Asmussen
8. Bradester (KY), R Napravnik, 114, E Kenneally
9. Fordubai (KY), R Albarado, 117, G Geier
 

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