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Stakes Advance: Fordubai Faces Stronger Field in Grade III Mineshaft Handicap

Jim Tafel’sFordubai, who captured the $100,000 Louisiana Handicap on Jan. 18 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, is expected to face a stiffer challenge when he takes on eight other older horses in Saturday’s Grade III Mineshaft Handicap during  the local oval’s Louisiana Derby Preview Day presented by Lamarque Ford.

The Mineshaft is Fair Grounds final designed tune-up in advance of the Grade II New Orleans Handicap onLouisiana Derby Day March 29.

Fordubai, runner-up in the Grade II Illinois Derby last spring, won Arlington’s $65,000 Straight Line Stakes last summer.  Greg Geier trains the homebred son of E. Dubai who will be ridden once again by Fair Grounds’ seven-time jockey champion Robby Albarado who will make up most of the 117 pounds assigned.

Shouldering the top impost of 121 pounds in Saturday’s $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap is Zayat Stables’ Prayer for Relief, who finished third beaten 1 ¼-lengths by Fordubai in the Louisiana ‘Cap but captured Fair Grounds’ $75,000 Tenacious Handicap by 6 ¼-lengths last December 21.  Prayer for Relief, who also won Remington’s $175,000 Governor’s Cup last August, is conditioned by 13-time Fair Grounds trainer champion Steve Asmussen andwill be ridden by jockey Corey Nakatani.

Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher is shipping Repole Stable’s Micromanage to New Orleans for the Mineshaft Handicap after the son of Medaglia d’Oro finished third in Aqueduct’s Grade III Discovery Handicap and was then second in two $100,000 stakes tests at the Queens oval in December.  Micromanage gets in with 116 pounds including Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.

Maggi Moss’s Grand Contender, trained by New Orleans native Tom Amoss, was runner-up to Fordubai in the Louisiana Handicap but won three straight last year, including the $150,000 Delta Mile.  James Graham is slated for the saddle and will make up most of the 117 pounds.

Completing the field for the Mineshaft, with jockeys and weights assigned, is Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras, Shaun Bridgmohan (116); West Point Thoroughbreds’ et al.’s Ground Transport, Mark Guidry (115); Joseph Sutton’s Bradester, Rosie Napravnik (114); Jim Tafel’s Afford, Brian Hernandez Jr. (113); and My Meadowview Farm’s Stephanoatsee, Richard Eramia (112).