Overcoming a three-race case of “seconditis” at the Crescent City oval, Brereton Jones’s Mark Valeski
broke out of it with a hard-earned one-length win in Saturday’s Grade II Mineshaft Handicap
on Louisiana Derby Preview Day Presented by Lamarque Ford
at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
“I think everybody had some anxious moments there, including myself,” said winning rider Rosie Napravnik.
“We were really boxed in and I know I was sitting behind a couple of
horses that were going to make a run and they just weren’t running fast
enough, so I was finally able to tip to the outside and, I mean, he just
took off and he was much the best today.”
Mark Valeski had won Belmont’s Grade II Peter Pan last
summer, but was beaten three-quarters of a length in Fair Grounds’
Louisiana Handicap Jan. 19 in his first race since that New York score.
Last year he was second by a nose in Fair Grounds’ Grade II Risen Star Stakes and then beaten a half-length in the Grade II Louisiana Derby, but had been training sharply for conditioner Larry Jones in
recent weeks. The 4-year-old son of Proud Citizen was well placed early
in the Mineshaft, encountered traffic problems in mid-stretch but
proved best once he had clear running room.
Mark Valeski returned mutuels of $3.80, $2.60 and $2.10, accomplished
the 1 1/16-mile distance in 1:44.82 and increased his career earnings
to $540,952 with his fourth career win in eight lifetime starts.
Winning trainer Jones discussed Mark Valeski’s future campaign.
“We are going to plan to stay here for the (Grade II) New Orleans Handicap,”Jones said. “It’s a big-dollar race and we are going to have a lot of competition with Graydar and Bourbon Courage coming in. So we are going to get a shot to really see what they got in their hands here.”
Tenth Street Stables’ Cool Street finished second in the Mineshaft, paying $7.60 and $3.60 while a neck in front of Magic City Thoroughbred Partners’ Golden Ticket, who returned $2.40.