Bradester comes home strong to win the Mineshaft Handicap.<br><a target="blank" href="!i=3088532518&k=MHvDQG6">Order This Photo</a>

Bradester comes home strong to win the Mineshaft Handicap.
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Hodges Photography/Lou Hodges, Jr.

Bradester Digs Deep for First Stakes Tally

Consistent Lion Heart colt rewarded with 1 1/4-length triumph in Mineshaft Handicap.

Bradester  collared pacesetter Grand Contender mid-stretch and proved best in the drive for the wire to register his first stakes win in the $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) Feb. 22 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots (VIDEO).

The race, which concluded the Louisiana Derby Preview Day stakes card at the New Orleans oval, produced a 13-2 upset with Rosie Naprvanik in the saddle for trainer Eddie Kenneally. Bradester defeated Grand Contender by 1 1/4 lengths, with Fordubai third in the field of nine older horses. The final time for the 1/16-mile test was 1:43.80 on a fast track.

Joseph W. Sutton owns Bradester, a 4-year-old Lion Heart colt out of the Grand Slam mare Grandestofall. Bred in Kentucky by Doug Branham, the bay sold for $195,000 as a 2-year-old at the Fasig-Tipton Florida sale in March 2012.

"We sat in a great position," said Napravnik, "and he wanted to wait, so it took some urging to get him to go past, but he's just a classy horse."

Coming off a 2 1/4-length win over second level allowance/optional claiming foes at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 17 at Gulfstream Park, Bradester was making just his second stakes appearance. He was second to Power Broker on a sloppy track in the Indiana Derby (gr. II) last October.

In the Mineshaft, Bradester was a little wide into the first turn while settling in third behind Grand Contender, who opened a two-length edge early for jockey James Graham. Ground Transport tracked in second and those three maintained those positions for six furlongs while clipping off even quarter-mile fractions of :24.08, :48.31, and 1:12.31.

Napravnik gave Bradester his cue near the quarter pole and he bid for the lead in upper stretch. Under steady encouragement as he reached the furlong mark narrowly in front, Bradester edged away in deep stretch to win handily. Grand Contender was 1 3/4 lengths in front of third-place finisher Fordubai, who rallied from fifth on the far turn but flattened out late under Robby Albarado.

Prayer for Relief , the 2-1 choice and 121-pound highweight, was in contention most of the way before fading to sixth.

The consistent Bradester ran his career line to 4-3-1 in nine starts with earnings of $305,054. Sent off as the fifth choice, he paid $15.40, $6.60, and $5.40 under 116 pounds. He keyed a $98.80 exacta with Grand Contender, who returned $6 and $3.80. Fordubai was $3.80 to show.

Ground Transport ran fourth, followed by Afford, Prayer for Relief, Micromanage , Stephanoatsee , and Mister Marti Gras.