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Contact: Michael Adolphson, Staff Writer/Media Specialist, 504.948.1255,Michael.Adolphson@fgno.com





NEW ORLEANS (February 14, 2016) – Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s International Star may be a horse-for-course to the favor of Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, or may just be a good horse, in general, whose best efforts coincidentally have occurred at the New Orleans oval – either way, the scrappy and diminutive son of Fusaichi Pegasus will shoot for a fifth Fair Grounds stakes victory in the Grade III $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap on Feb. 20. Named after the 2003 Horse of the Year who won three of four races during the 2002-03 Fair Grounds season, the Mineshaft will be contested at 1 1/16 miles over the main track and attracted a compact quintet; all stakes winners.


Trained by Mike Maker, International Star kicked off his 4-year-old campaign with a stylish victory in the Listed $75,000 Louisiana Stakes on Jan. 16 over the same course and distance. The effort was his sixth career victory and made the bay colt a perfect 4-for-4 at Fair Grounds after sweeping the graded series of Kentucky Derby preps in 2015 – the Grade III Lecomte, Grade II Risen Star and Grade II Louisiana Derby. Miguel Mena, who has yet to lose when teaming up with the earner of $1,066,629, retains the mount from post three.


If looking for an angle when it comes to the Mineshaft, William S. Farish’s Neil Howard-trained Eagle provides more than enough class. Owned and trained by Mineshaft’s connections, Eagle is also a grandson of the great champion and exhibited a great deal of grit last out in the Louisiana when re-rallying after being passed by International Star in mid-stretch to lose by 1½ lengths. Brian Hernandez, Jr., the only rider to ever be atop the chestnut son of Candy Ride, rides the minor stakes winner again from post four.


Seventh of 10 in last year’s Mineshaft, Gallant Stable’s Grade I winner Majestic Harbor breaks from the rail with Corey Lanerie for trainer Paul McGee and will be attempting to win for the first time since taking a rained-off April allowance at this distance at Churchill Downs. Winner of the 2014 Grade I Gold Cup at Santa Anita at 1¼ miles, the son of Rockport Harbor seems to be at his best at trips beyond this and showed scant interest when fading to fifth in the Louisiana after setting the tempo.


Mark Breen’s Grade III winner Jessica’s Star will make his first start since June for leading trainer Mike Stidham. The 5-year-old gelded son of Magna Graduate has three stakes victories to his credit, including the 2014 Grade III Iowa Derby, and has been training exceptionally over the Fair Grounds surface, including a five-furlong move in 59.80 on Feb. 11. Leading rider Florent Geroux picks up the mount from the outside post five.


Jose Luis Espinoza’s Point Piper ships in for top California-based conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. A minor stakes winner last August at Del Mar, the son of Giant’s Causeway and multiple European classic winner Imagine gets a bit of class relief after being beaten 6½ lengths in sixth last out by 2014 Horse of the Year California Chrome in the Grade II San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita. A return to the form that saw him gamely go down in defeat to Dortmund – finishing second by less than two lengths – in the $70,000 Big Bear Stakes in October could give this 6-year-old bay horse a chance. Julien Leparoux rides from post two.


Two races after the Mineshaft, Race 7, the best local older sprinters take the stage in the $60,000 Duncan F. Kenner Stakes over six furlongs on the main track. Multiple graded stakes winner Clearly Now, purchased privately this fall by Brittlyn Stable and turned over to Ron Faucheux, will try to follow up his visually impressive victory over three stakes winners in salty allowance company last out at this trip. The dark bay son of Horse Greeley breaks from post six of seven and carries Jose Valdivia, Jr.


Corrine and William Heiligbrodt’s Cinco Charlie will go for his seventh career stakes victory when he breaks from the rail under Florent Geroux for trainer Steve Asmussen. The son of Indian Charlie was a winner over this trip two Decembers ago when taking the $50,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes to close out his 2-year-old campaign. After a strong but abbreviated sophomore season that saw him win two stakes and lose the Grade II Woody Stephens at Belmont by a nose, he returned in a salty Oaklawn allowance on Jan. 15, finishing an even sixth.


C. R. Trout’s Shotgun Kowboy shortens up for trainer Bret Calhoun and makes his first start since a seventh-place finish in the Grade I Clark Handicap at nine furlongs on Nov. 27. A four-time stakes winner of $590,044, the dark bay gelding has proven versatile in his nine-race career, winning from six furlongs to 1 1/8 miles – including a half-length victory in the Grade III Oklahoma Derby. Robby Albarado rides the son of Kodiak Kowboy from the outside post seven.


The remainder of the Kenner field is comprised of course and distance allowance winners County Corrections (Mitchell Murrill, post two) and Vigorous Titan (Jesus Castanon, post three), as well as minor stakes winners Officer Griffin (Corey Lanerie, post four) and Too Dim (Miguel Mena, post five).