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Stakes Advances: Grade III Mineshaft Handicap & Duncan F. Kenner Stakes

GRADE I WINNER MAJESTIC HARBOR HEADLINES MINESHAFT HANDICAP

Grade I winner Majestic Harbor returns to the scene of his first career win in Saturday’s Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots as part of Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford. The Mineshaft will be run at 1 1/16-miles on the main track and is carded as the eighth race on a 12-race card – the first leg of a 50-cent All-Stakes Pick-4.

Majestic Harbor, owned by Gallant Stable, was based in the Midwest early in his career and has found recent success since moving to Southern California, winning a pair of graded stakes races including the Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita last June while under the care of trainer Sean McCarthy. Returning to the barn of Paul McGee for this local start, the 7-year-old son of Rockport Harbor will be making his third stakes start at Fair Grounds, having finished ninth in the 2011 Grade II Louisiana Derby and sixth in the 2013 Grade II New Orleans Handicap. The two-time local winner will be ridden again by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith from post three.

WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing’s Red Rifle enters the Mineshaft in top form after taking down the Grade II Hawthorne Gold Cup last November. Away since that score, the five-time winner who has won on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces will make his seasonal debut in the Mineshaft. Todd Pletcher trains the speedy 5-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway and has named Rafael Bejarano to ride from post six.

Dreamchaser Thorobreds’ Hard Aces, winner of the Louisiana Handicap locally in January for trainer Larry Jones, drew the rail in the field of 12. The 5-year-old son of Hard Spun is coming off the best performance of his career in that designed prep for the Mineshaft and will look to win his fourth career race over the Fair Grounds main track. Jose Riquelme, who was aboard for the Louisiana victory, gets the return call.

Multiple graded stakes winner Nates Mineshaft will look for his second victory in the Mineshaft, a race he also won in 2012. The swift son of the Mineshaft’s namesake is trained by Anne Smith for Windy Hill Farm and is cross-entered in the six-furlong Duncan F. Kenner Stakes earlier in the card. Miguel Mena has been named to ride the 8-year-old who is capable of showing speed should his connections elect to run him from post seven in the Mineshaft.

Donegal Racing’s Irish You Well is slated to make his 2015 debut in the Mineshaft, having been away from the races since a fourth-place effort in the Grade I Haskell Invitational behind eventual Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Bayern. The multiple graded stakes-placed son of Broken Vow is trained by Wayne Catalano and will have Florent Geroux in the irons from post five.

Fordubai (Robby Albarado, post two), Mystery Train (Francisco Torres, post four), Cougar Ridge (Shaun Bridgmohan, post eight), Street Babe (Kerwin Clark, post nine), Class Leader (James Graham, post 10), Quadrivium (Forest Boyce, post 11), and Knights Nation (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post 12) complete the field in the Mineshaft.
 

DELAUNAY SEEKS THIRD STRAIGHT IN KENNER

Earlier in the card, graded stakes winner Delaunay will seek his third stakes score of the meet in the $60,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes at six furlongs on the main track. Owned by Maggi Moss and trained by Tom Amoss, the 8-year-old son of Smoke Glacken has been beaten just once in seven lifetime tries on the Fair Grounds main track – in last year’s Duncan F. Kenner. He followed a romping win in the Thanksgiving Handicap earlier in the season with a neck score in the off-the-turf Bonapaw Stakes in January. The 18-time winner will again be ridden by James Graham from post four.

Capable of providing a challenge to the favorite is the Hugh Robertson-owned and -trained Bet Seattle. Third to Delaunay in the Bonapaw, the son of Seattle Fitz returned to easily win a salty allowance optional claiming race 15 days later. A winner of his last four starts at the Kenner’s six-furlong distance, the two-time stakes winner will be ridden by Francisco Torres from post six.

William J. Deckwa Jr.’s 6-year-old Mutakddim gelding Too Dim, beaten a length by Bet Seattle in late January, aims for his third win at the meet. The Eddie Johnston trainee secured his first career stakes win with a flashy last-to-first tally in the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint in December. Miguel Mena will again partner with the 10-time winner from post five.

Completing the field for the Duncan F. Kenner are Nates Mineshaft (Brian Hernandez, Jr., post one), Bellarmine (Kent Desormeaux, post two), Take It Like a Man (Richard Eramia, post three), and Jasizzle (Willie Martinez, post seven).

First post Saturday is 12:30 p.m.