The predicted duel between last winter’s Grade II Louisiana
Derby winner and last spring’s Grade I Blue Grass Stakes winner got shot
down Saturday when Richard Rudolph and Michael Vranich’s Stonehouse snuck
up to steal the gold medal in the Grade III Mineshaft Handicap.
Vinery Stable and Fox Hill Farm’s Friesan Fire, who
swept Fair Grounds’ sophomore series last year and won this year’s Louisiana
Handicap, made the pace as expected in Saturday’s final major preview for the
upcoming Grade II New Orleans Handicap March 27, but on Saturday General
Quarters, who was the Louisiana Handicap runner-up, and is owned and
trained by Tom McCarthy, pressed that pace. What happened? Friesan Fire
faded to fourth late and General Quarters marched on to gain the second spot,
but it was Stonehouse who swept to the front at the furlong grounds and then
withstood a late-second rally by “The General” to win by a neck.
“This old horse can run,” said Spanky Broussard, a
native New Orleanian who turned 69-years-old on Super Bowl Sunday watching his
beloved New Orleans Saints win that game, and then enjoyed “the birthday
that keeps on giving” by tapping the vein that led to the winner’s circle in
the Mineshaft. “(Stonehouse) is a nice horse and he’s already proved it. He’d
already won over half a million dollars. I thought he’d run good, and when he
caught up to those speed horses turning for home I knew he was going to win it.”
Stonehouse also proved to be a gold mine in the Mineshaft
for punters, returning mutuels of $35.60, $9.20 and $27.60. The 6-year-old son
of 2000 Arlington Million winner Chester House increased his career
earnings to $612,522 with his 10th win in 38 lifetime starts and got the 1
1/16-mile distance over the main track in 1:44.09.
General Quarters, who dropped back to third in upper
stretch but came again gallantly to be clearly second best, paid $3.60 and
$8.40 while finishing 1 3/4-lengths in front of Virginia Tarra’s Giant Oak,
who paid $13.60.
“We’ll just have to try again,” said McCarthy, who at 76
years of age is seven years senior to Broussard. “Today we beat Friesan
Fire but we set it up for somebody else. I was very pleased with the way my
horse fought back today. He ran a winning race.”
Friesan Fire set early fractions of 24.73 and 48.20 before
weakening in the lane.
Blues Street Drills Rivals in Fair Grounds Handicap
Antsu Stables’ Blues Street paved the way for
happier times in the Todd Pletcher barn at Fair Grounds by capturing
Saturday’s Grade III Fair Grounds Handicap by 2 1/4-lengths one race
after Glencrest Farm’s Devil May Care disappointed as the favorite in
the Grade III Silverbulletday Stakes.
One race after Blues
Street’s stepping stone
score, Paul Robsham’s Discreetly Mine made things better yet for the Pletcher
barn by winning the Grade II Risen Star Stakes.
“You lose some, you win some,” said Pletcher’s assistant
trainer Ginny DePasquale immediately after the Fair Grounds Handicap. “I
thought the filly (Devil May Care) had the best chance of all of our horses,
but this horse has always been a very dependable honest horse. I think
he’s getting better as he gets older.”
Blues Street, a 6-year-old gelding by Street Cry, was
allowed to settle early by rider Javier Castellano, rallied boldly when
set down for the drive and wore down David Holloway Racing’s Dubious Miss
in the final furlong. The winner returned mutuels of $5.80, $3.60 and $3,
accomplished the about nine furlong distance over a Stall-Wilson turf
course rated firm in 1:51.71, and increased his career earnings to $307,178
with his seventh victory in 21 career starts.
“It felt great,” said Castellano, who also was aboard the
winning Discreetly Mine in the Risen Star. “I really liked the way the race
developed. I was very satisfied. I’d never got on this horse before. I
appreciate Todd Pletcher giving me the opportunity to get on this horse.”
Dubious Miss, always well placed in the Fair Grounds ‘Cap,
gained a clear advantage at the furlong grounds, could not withstand the winner
late but was easily second best, finishing 4 1/2 lengths to the good of Kaygar
Stables and Robert Gerczak’s Baltimore Bob, who lacked the needed
Dubious Miss paid $9.80 and $6.60, and Baltimore Bob
returned $4.40 in the show spot.
William Don Bennett and Carl Bowling’s Acting Zippy
made the early pace with fractions of 24.97 and 49.99 over the grass before
fading to eighth. The Fair Grounds Handicap is the final local designed prep
for Fair Grounds’ Grade II Mervin Muniz Memorial Handicap March 27.
Wins Colonel Power
In Saturday’s $60,000 Colonel Power Stakes for older
horses at about 5 1/2 furlongs over the Stall-Wilson turf course, even-money
choice Chamberlain Bridge, owned by Carl Moore, won the local grass dash
for the second straight year. The smallish 6-year-old gelding broke a bid
tardily but gradually settled just behind the early pace, took command in the
stretch run and withstood runner-up Country Day by three-quarters of a
length. Chamberlain Bridge, trained by Bret Calhoun and ridden by Jamie
Theriot, paid $4, $2.40 and $2.10, toured the distance in 1:04.29 over firm
going and increased his career earnings to $679,054 with his 12th win in 24
Country Day paid $3.80 and $3, while 2 1/4-lengths farther
back was Wise River, who paid $4.60 to show. Turfiste made the
pace in the Colonel Power with splits of 22.59 and 46.38 before tiring to
In Saturday’s $56,400 Pan Zareta Stakes for fillies
and mares at six furlongs, Gold Mark Farm’s Double Espresso
pressed the early pace, took command in upper stretch and then withstood the
late bid of the odds-on Dubai Majesty to hold on by a head at the wire.
Trained by Tom Amoss and ridden by the meet’s
leading rider James Graham, Double Espresso paid $14.20 and $3.80 with
no show wagering in the four-horse field. She toured the three-quarters
in 1:10.82 and increased her career earnings to $161, 433 with her fifth
victory in 10 lifetime starts.
Dubai Majesty broke tardily, recovered steadily to
challenge the winner in the final furlong but could not get by. She paid
$2.20 to place while suffering her second tough defeat in a row after missing
by a nose in Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint Jan. 30. Coy Cat
finished third, 4 3/4-lengths farther back, while pace setter Simplify
tired after setting early splits of 22.96 and 46.70