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

Antsu Stables’ Street Babe, making his stakes debut in just his third lifetime start, pressed the pace and took control late to capture the Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap by three-quarters of a length Saturday as part of Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford at Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots.

An easy winner of his career debut at Aqueduct Nov. 20, the Michael Dilger-trained 4-year-old Street Sense gelding entered the Mineshaft off a runner-up effort in allowance company at 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 21. Sent off as the second-longest shot in the field at 21-1, Street Babe rewarded his backers with mutuels of $44.80, $25.00, and $12.60, completing the trip in 1:43.58. The $75,000 winner’s share boosted his career bankroll to $118,700 as he won for the second time in three lifetime starts.

Winning jockey Kerwin Clark saw promise in the lightly raced charge, saying, “You’re going to see a lot of this horse – he was just playing around. When the horse came up on the outside, I thought we were beat, but he cut away. When he got to the front, he was playing around again or he would have won easily.”

Trainer Dilger agreed. “He is a late starter, but we still don’t know how good he is.”

Argentine-bred Mystery Train set the early splits under jockey Francisco Torres, leading through fractions of :23.18, :46.97 and 1:11.90 before succumbing late while still holding second by two and a half lengths from 8-5 favorite Red Rifle. Trained by Darrell Vienna, the 5-year old son of Not for Sale turned in his best performance in four North American starts and returned $18.60 and $8.80.

Jockey Torres was pleased with his mount’s performance. “He tugged, but that’s his style. He actually settled a little bit for me and went on in the stretch.”

Winstar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing’s Red Rifle raced from off the pace under Rafael Bejarano and entered the stretch wide but could not reach the top pair. The Todd Pletcher trainee returned $3.20 to show.

Cougar Ridge, Class Leader, Irish You Well, Majestic Harbor, Fordubai, Knights Nation and Nates Mineshaft completed the order of finish.

Earlier in the card, Hugh Robertson’s 5-2 second choice Bet Seattle turned back Maggi Moss’ 2-5 favorite Delaunay in the 62nd running of the $60,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes over six furlongs for older horses in an impressive 1:09.83. 

Under a confident Francisco Torres, the son of Seattle Fitz popped out of the gate ahead of a trio of challengers and won by three-quarters of a length over Delaunay after setting fractions of :21.80 and :45.16.  The victory was his second of the meet, following a workmanlike allowance victory on Jan. 18 at the same trip.  The dark bay gelding had finished third in a muddy renewal of the $60,000 Bonapaw Stakes behind Delaunay on Jan. 3 to kick off his 6-year-old season and is now two-for-three on the year.

“They’ve been pointing this horse for this race for a while and he was sharp,” Torres said.  “For as big as he is, he is light on his feet and left there running.  I was just along for the ride.  The mud had a lot to do with it (when he lost to Delaunay).  My horse didn’t like it too much that day and Delaunay seemed to enjoy it.  The tables were turned today.”

Bet Seattle won the 11th race of his career from 28 starts and the $36,000 from the winner’s portion of the purse increased his career earnings to $401,383.  Purchased for by owner/trainer Robertson for only $1,500 at Keeneland’s January Sale in 2010, the Kentucky-bred annexed his third stakes win from seven added-money attempts.

William Deckwa’s Too Dim, who reared badly at the start and spotted the field nearly five lengths, closed resolutely to finish a good third, beaten three lengths under Miguel Mena at odds of 4-1.

“He ran well,” Mena said.  “He was on the rail, but I gave away too much ground early at the break.  We only got beat a couple lengths and gave away about three-to-four lengths at the start.  He gets fussy waiting in the gate and it cost us.”

James Graham, the rider of Delaunay, refused comment.  The quartet of sprinters was completed by Roger Braugh, Jr.’s Take It Like a Man, who finished 11 lengths astern Too Dim.  Nates Mineshaft, Bellarmine and Jasizzle were scratched.