Honest Man tuned up for the N.O. Handicap with a win in the Mineshaft.

Honest Man tuned up for the N.O. Handicap with a win in the Mineshaft.

Lou Hodges Jr.

Honest Man Favored in NO Handicap

Race for older horses drew 14 entries.

(edited press release)

Fox Hill Farms’ Honest Man, winner of the grade III Mineshaft Handicap in his last start, is the 121-pound highweight and 3-1 morning-line favorite for the $500,000, grade II New Orleans Handicap, which is contested at 1 1/8 miles on the dirt as part of the March 14 Louisiana Derby card at Fair Grounds. He drew post No. 10.

Honest Man’s win in the Mineshaft was his second graded stakes win, after a victory in the grade III Iselin at Monmouth last summer. Honest Man breezed five furlongs in :58 4/5 March 9 as trainer Larry Jones got in final works for all of his March 14 stakes starters.

Gabriel Saez has the return mount. He and Jones will also team up with morning-line choice Friesan Fire  in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II).

"He's a very, very talented horse," said Jones. "He had little, minor issues we had to train around before, but physically, he's better than he's ever been (now). He's training exceptionally well. He can really put himself into top contention of older handicap horses."

Edmund Gann’s It's a Bird, winner of the $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic in January at Gulfstream Park, is the early co-second choice at 6-1. Thanks mostly to the $600,000 in earnings from his last start, the Marty Wolfson trainee tops the field with $817,885 in career earnings.

The other 6-1 choice on the morning line is the Barclay Tagg-trained Dry Martini, who was second to It’s a Bird in the Sunshine Millions Classic. Three starts back, Dry Martini won the grade III Stuyvesant Handicap at Aqueduct. Dry Martini got in his final workout for Saturday with a five-furlong drill in a bullet :59 2/5 Monday at Gulfstream Park.
New Orleans Handicap, grade II, $500,000, 1 1/8 miles:
(Post position—Name, jockey, weight, odds)
1--It’s a Bird, Julien Leparoux, 120, 6-1
2--Golden Yank, Jamie Theriot, 118, 12-1
3--Secret Getaway, Kent Desormeaux, 116, 10-1
4--Dry Martini, Edgar Prado, 117, 6-1
5--Brothers Nicholas, James Graham, 116, 20-1
6--Wishful Tomcat, Victor Espinoza, 117, 10-1
7--El Caballo, Corey Lanerie, 115, 30-1
8--Good and Lucky, Patrick Valenzuela, 118, 8-1
9--Slew's Tiznow , Rafael Bejarano, 116, 12-1
10--Honest Man, Gabriel Saez, 121, 3-1
11--Macho Again, Robby Albarado, 116, 12-1
12--Richard’s Kid, Rosie Napravnik, 116, 20-1
13--Star Guitar, Curt Bourque, 116, 20-1
14--My Pal Charlie, John Velazquez, 119, 8-1