Master Command Heads Mineshaft Field

Master Command has been installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite for the Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III) at the Fair Grounds Feb.10. A field of seven horses is expected to compete in the 1 1/16 mile event for 4-year-olds and up.

Michael McCarthy will saddle Master Command for Aaron and Marie Jones. McCarthy is an assistant to Todd Pletcher, who is currently serving a suspension. The 5-year-old son of A.P. Indy won the Meadowlands Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) and William Donald Schaefer Handicap (gr. III) in 2006. The Mineshaft will be his first race of 2007, after finishing last year with a fourth-place effort in the Clark Handicap (gr. I).

Purim, who has been cross-entered in the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III), is the second choice at 5-2. Thomas Proctor trains the 5-year-old son of Dynaformer for E. J. Sukley. In his last start, Purim won the Jan. 13 Colonel E. R. Bradley Handicap.

The Mineshaft was named for the 2003 Horse of the Year, and a New Orleans favorite. Trainer Neil Howard and owner William Farish, who campaigned Mineshaft in partnership, team up again with Patriot Act, another son of A.P. Indy. The 5-year-old horse finished third in his last outing, the Jan. 6 Louisiana Breeders' Cup Handicap, behind Sandburr, who is also expected to run in the Mineshaft.

Well Said, Bureaucratic, and Welcome Again round out the field. Both Well Said and Bureaucratic come into the race off of second place finishes in allowance races at Fair Grounds, while Welcome Again has won in his last two outings in allowance company.

$200,000 Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III), 4 & up, 1 1/16 miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Sandburr, Joseph Talamo, 115, 6-1
2. Purim, Jesus Castanon, 117, 5-2
3. Well Said, James Graham, 114, 9-2
4. Patriot Act, Robby Albarado, 114, 8-1
5. Master Command, John Velazquez, 120, 8-5
6. Bureaucratic, Jesse Campbell, 113, 10-1
7. Welcome Again, Javier Castellano, 114, 12-1