Gallant Stable's Majestic Harbor prevailed in Saturday's Grade 3 Mineshaft Handicap at the Fair Grounds, taking the lead out of the gate and never looking back. The 8-year-old son of Rockport Harbor stopped the clock in the 1 1/16 mile contest in 1:42.86, holding off the fast-closing Eagle to win by a head for trainer Paul McGee.
“With as bad of a trip as he had last time, I was worried,” said McGee, “but he breezed so well out of that race. He's been touting himself the last couple weeks, so we figured we would come back in this race.”
Corey Lanerie may have broken the slowest aboard Majestic Harbor, but he never panicked, allowed the horse to find his stride and take himself into the lead before the first turn. By the first quarter, Majestic Harbor was comfortably 1 1/2 lengths in front of the field, where he led through splits of :24.29, :48.09, and 1:12.30. Point Piper tracked him from second, while International Star and Eagle were another two lengths back in third and fourth, respectively.
Rounding the turn for home, Eagle ranged up the outside while the favored International Star dropped down to the rail to make his rally. Eagle put away Point Piper and made it to Majestic Harbor's flank, but Lanerie had left just enough in reserve to hold off the challenger and keep his mount's head in front at the wire. Eagle was second, while Point Piper settled for third in front of a fading International Star.
“I figured I was the only speed, but he did break a little slow today and it took him a few strides to get himself together,” said Lanerie. “I just let him do his thing. Once he got up front he was comfortable and he get me what he had. He has a great deal of heart and was very gutsy.”
“We had a good trip,” said Brian Hernandez aboard Eagle. “I wish we hadn't had to break from the outside, but that was the card we were dealt. Turning for home I thought we were on the best horse and after he switched leads I thought for sure he'd run down that horse, but that other horse was just gritty. Tough old horse and a Grade I winner, but our horse ran his race.”
Bred in Kentucky by Liberation Farm and Brandywine Farm, Majestic Harbor is out of the stakes-placed French Deputy mare Champagne Royale. He was a $20,000 purchase the the Keeneland September Yearling sale, and has gone on to win nine races from 38 starts, including the 2014 Grade 1 Santa Anita Gold Cup. This race boosts his career earnings to just over $980,000.
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