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Majestic Harbor Calls on Class in Grade III Mineshaft Handicap; Cinco Charlie Sharp in Duncan F. Kenner

In what figured to be a rematch clash of the top-two finishers in last month’s Louisiana Stakes between International Star and Eagle, it was the back class of Gallant Stable’s Grade I winner Majestic Harbor that proved best in Saturday’s Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots as part of Louisiana Derby Preview Day presented by Veterans Ford.

Majestic Harbor, who set the early tempo before fading in the aforementioned Louisiana Stakes, again was sent to the front by jockey Corey Lanerie and was permitted to set reasonable splits of 24.29, 48.09 and 1:12.30 while under only token spying pressure from California invader Point Piper. Shaking clear of that rival into the stretch, the Paul McGee-trained son of Rockport Harbor was able to hold Eagle by a determined neck at the wire, completing the 1 1/16-miles on the main track in 1:42.86.

“I figured I was the only speed, but he did break a little slow today and it took him a few strides to get himself together,” said winning jockey Corey Lanerie. “I just let him do his thing.”

Trainer Paul McGee was convinced to give his 8-year-old pupil another chance after a series of encouraging morning works.

“With as bad of a trip as he had last time, I was worried, but he breezed so well out of that race,” McGee said. “He’s been touting himself the last couple weeks, so we figured we would come back in this race.”

W.S. Farish’s Eagle, under Brian Hernandez for trainer Neil Howard, settled at the tail of the compact field of four, launched a bid on the far turn and nearly drew even with the winner before settling for second while two lengths clear of Jerry Hollendorfer, et al’s Point Piper.

“We had a good trip. I wish we hadn’t had to break from the outside, but that was the card we were dealt,” Hernandez said. “Turning for home I thought we were on the best horse and after he switched leads I thought for sure he’d run down that horse, but that other horse was just gritty. Tough old horse and a Grade I winner, but our horse ran his race.”

Favored International Star, sent to post at 0.70-1 with his unbeaten local record intact, never picked up and faded to last.

Majestic Harbor won for the ninth time in 39 career races and earned $82,500 to boost his career bankroll to $990,254, returning $15.00 and $5.80. Eagle returned $3.20 to place. Show and superfecta wagering were cancelled after the scratch of Jessica’s Star.

Two races later in the card, William and Corinne Heiligbrodt’s Cinco Charlie rebounded from a poor Oaklawn comeback race to blitz six other rivals on the front end in the $60,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Breaking fastest from the inside under rider Florent Geroux, Cinco Charlie quickly established an open-lengths lead through splits of 21.80 and 45.01, maintained that edge though a five-furlong split of 56.74, and cruised home 2¾ lengths the best in a final time of 1:09.39 for the six-furlong trip on the main track.

“He broke fast and is very professional, he knows what to do,” said Geroux. “I didn’t want to push him but also didn’t want to take him back so I just nursed him along.”

Cinco Charlie earned his eighth lifetime and seventh stakes win from just 14 starts while earning $37,200 to increase his career earnings to $556,670.

L. T. B. Inc. and Miles Childers’ Bernie Flint-trained Vigorous Titan, Cinco Charlie’s closest pursuer throughout, turned in a gritty effort at 29-1 to hold off Robert Persons and Earl Conrad Sanderson’s Joe Sharp-trained Officer Griffin for second by 1½ lengths.

Brittlyn Stable’s Clearly Now, the Kenner’s even-money favorite, broke slowly and never threatened, trailing home last of seven.

Cinco Charlie returned $5.80, $3.80 and $3.20 as the second choice, with Vigorous Titan returning $19 and $7, and Officer Griffin paying $3.60.

Too Dim, Shotgun Kowboy, County Corrections and Clearly Now completed the order of finish.