Tom Durant's Silver Dust looks to add yet another graded stakes victory to his resume while at the same time defending his title when he faces ten others in the $200,000 Mineshaft (G3), to be run at 1 1/16th miles on Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course. The Mineshaft is carded as race nine of the 13 on “Louisiana Derby Preview Day” card with an estimated post time of 4:01 pm (CT).
There are seven total stakes on the 13-race “Louisiana Derby Preview Day” card, including split divisions of the Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln and the Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton.
Following his win in the 2019 edition of the Mineshaft (G3), Silver Dust would later capture the West Virginia Governors Cup (G3) at Mountaineer for trainer Bret Calhoun. He capped off his five-year-old campaign with a near miss in the Lukas Classic (G3) at Churchill Downs, losing by a neck to Mocito Rojo, whom he will take on again in the Mineshaft.
Last seen winning the locally run Louisiana Stakes (G3), a race in which he was second in last year in advance of his Mineshaft victory, Silver Dust sat just off a slow early pace and drew off impressively, winning by 4 1/4th lengths with plenty left in the tank.
“I have a lot more confidence going into this race this year than I did last year,” trainer Bret Calhoun said. “He's gotten so consistent now. Last year I knew he was a very talented horse and could pop in a huge race, it was just whether or not he was going to do it. In the past he was the kind of horse you couldn't always trust in the afternoon, with how he's been recently, I certainly do have a ton of confidence and trust in him. He has the potential to be an even better horse this year now that he's putting it all together.”
With regular rider Jack Gilligan sidelined by injury, Calhoun was forced to make a jockey change on the 6-year-old son of Tapit.
“Brian Hernandez Jr. is going to ride him,” Calhoun explained. “He's worked him a few times now and is getting the feel for the type of horse he is. I miss having Jack (Gilligan) on him because he has such a good rapport with this horse, but I think Brian is a good fit for him and will have as much success with him as Jack has.”
Listed as Mike Diliberto's 5-2 morning line favorite, Silver Dust will break from post four.
Breaking from post six with Joel Rosario aboard as the 4-1 second choice in the morning line, Juddmonte Farms Inc's Hofburg looks to return to his winning ways in his five-year-old debut. Third behind the Triple Crown winner Justify in the 2018 Belmont Stakes (G1), the son of Tapit ran only once last year, winning a July allowance at Saratoga. The Mineshaft will be his first start in seven months.
“After his win at Saratoga in July we were thinking of trying him in the Woodward (G1),” Riley Mott, assistant trainer to his father Bill Mott, said. “Unfortunately, he had a small bone bruise coming out of the race and it was the right thing to do to stop on him and give him some time.”
“He looks fantastic now,” Mott continued. “He was at Juddmonte for a few months and has come back great. Running in the stake off a layoff doesn't worry us to much given the fact he ran so well last time off the layoff. He's been working steadily and has gotten pretty fit so we're hoping he can run back to, or even improve over that run he had at Saratoga.”
A potential upset candidate is Gulliver Racing LLC, Craig Drager, and Dan Legan's Pirate's Punch who will break from post 11 with jockey Robby Albarado aboard (10-1 ML) He exits an 11 ½ length romp in a locally run second-level allowance on January 16.
“When you're running in a graded stake anywhere in the country against older horses, you're going to have to be ready,” trainer Grant Forester said of his rapidly improving four-year-old son of Shanghai Bobby. “I think he's ready to take on this challenge. With his speed, we think this is a horse we can have some serious fun with this year. We're hoping the Mineshaft is a step in his progression for the rest of his campaign.”
Rounding out the field (with post position, jockey/trainer and morning line odds) will be Wayne T. Davis' 17-time winner Mocito Rojo (post one, F. Rodriguez/S. Wilson at 8-1), David Cobb's Sleepy Eyes Todd (post two, Beschizza/A. Silva at 10-1), Whisper Hill Farms and Three Chimney's Farm's Gun It (post three, Santana, Jr./Asmussen at 10-1), James and Mary Durlacher's Roiland (post five, Graham/Amoss at 20-1), Sayjay Racing LLC, Greg Hall and Brooke Hubbard's Blended Citizen (post seven, Geroux/Cox at 6-1), James D. Spry's Winning Number (post eight, Martin, Jr./House at 20-1), Lothenbach Stables Inc.'s Captivating Moon (post nine, Leparoux/Block at 12-1) and Starlight Racing's Cutting Humor (post ten, Castellano/Pletcher at 8-1).
The winner of the two editions of the $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes (G3), Pin Oak Stable's seven-year-old Synchrony will shoot for the hat trick when he lines up against 13 others in Saturday's 1 1/8 miles turf event.
Off four months, the multiple graded stakes winning son of Tapit was last seen finishing a troubled eighth, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths, in the the City of Hope Mile (G2) at Santa Anita in October. Synchrony (post two) will be reunited with jockey Joe Bravo, who is five for nine aboard the Mike Stidham trainee, including both Fair Grounds Stakes tallies.
“At the end of last year, there was a question as to whether or not we were going to bring him back for his seven-year old year,” Stidham said. “Because of his health and desire for racing, we decided to give him a little break and then bring him back to Fair Grounds, which is his favorite track. “His level of enthusiasm is the same as when we first got him in years ago. Getting him over a million dollars in earnings is a goal, but we are also still chasing that elusive grade one, and we think he's still capable of getting that done.”
“In his last work (February 6), Synchrony broke off and was just doing his thing nice and easy, when a gray horse came up beside him,” Stidham said. “That horse happened to be (Mineshaft favorite) Silver Dust. He ran by us on the turn, but then Synchrony showed his grit came back at him and almost got him at the wire. They galloped out together. You would never plan something like that with those two horses, but it was just really cool to see.”
Set to oppose Synchrony (with post position, jockey/trainer and morning line odds) are Matt Nelson's Wound Tight (post one, Desormeaux/Hess at 6-1), Bentley Combs' Botswana (post three Morales/Combs at 30-1), Gaining Ground Racing LLC's Factor This (post four, Bridgmohan/Cox at 8-1), AJ Suited Racing Stable's Dontblamerocket, the recent winner of the Colonel E. R. Bradley (post five, Leparoux/N. Case at 9-2), Mrs. JV Shields, Jr. and EJM McFadden, Jr.'s Classic Covey (post six, Junior Alvarado/Mott at 6/1), Stonecrest Farms' Honovi (post seven, C. Hernandez/Walsh at 30-1), L and N Racing's Tone Broke (post eight, Santana, Jr./Asmussen at 20-1), Lothenbach Stables Inc's Captivating Moon (post nine, B. Hernandez, Jr./Block at 10-1), Hootie Racing LLC and Michael M. Hui's Space Mountain (post ten, Geroux/Maker at 20-1), Louie Rousel III's Sailing Solo (post 11, Murrill/Roussel III at 20-1), Bella Cavello Stables' Midnight Tea Time (post 12, Rosario/Sharp), Candie A. Baker's Spectacular Gem (post 13, Graham/Baker at 20-1) and Haras Firmamento's The Great Day (ARG) (post 14, Lanerie/Correas at 15-1).
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2020 Paulick Report.