Fox Hill Farms’ Honest Man stayed close to a slow pace, passed My Pal Charlie in upper stretch, and easily pulled away for a 4 1/4-length score in the $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) (VIDEO) – the first of four graded stakes at Fair Grounds Feb. 7.
Ridden patiently by Gabriel Saez, Honest Man followed Grasshopper and My Pal Charlie through pedestrian fractions of :25.52 and :49.19 before making his winning move around the late stages of the final turn. By the time they reached the quarter-pole, Honest Man had nearly drawn even with My Pal Charlie and Curt Bourque. It wasn't long before the son of Unbridled's Song went right by them and drew clear to record his second graded stakes victory. The final time for 1 1/16 on a ‘fast’ main track was 1:44.16.
“Everything was comfortable,” said Saez. “We were letting (My Pal Charlie) go and I was sitting behind him, and it was very comfortable after that.”
Good and Lucky settled for second under Pat Valenzuela, 1 1/2 lengths in front of third-place finisher Brothers Nicholas. My Pal Charlie was fourth in a field of eight older horses.
Sent off as the favorite, Honest Man paid $6, $4, and $3.40. The exacta (8-2) returned $41.60, and the trifecta (8-2-7) was worth $393.80.
Honest Man, a 5-year-old Kentucky-bred, was making the second start of his 2009 campaign. He placed third in the Jan. 10 Louisiana Handicap at Fair Grounds when he was beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Good and Lucky. The dark bay or brown horse earned his first graded stakes victory last August in the Philip H. Iselin Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park.
Trained by Larry Jones and bred by Racehorse Management, Honest Man is out of the grade I-winning Known Fact mare Oath. He is now 7-1-2 from 13 lifetime starts with earnings of $461,450.