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Jockey Miguel Mena smiles as he and Stonehouse return after winning the Mineshaft Handicap
In addition to the two races for 3-year-olds on Louisiana Derby Preview Day, there were two other stakes races contested over the Fair Grounds main track. The last stakes race of the card was the $100,000 Mineshaft Handicap (G3) featuring a field of 5 older horses going 1 1/16 miles. Last year's Louisiana Derby winner Friesan Fire was sent off as the 3-5 favorite exiting a win in the Louisiana Handicap. In to challenge him included 5-2 second choice General Quarters, second in the Louisiana Handicap last out, and 9-2 third choice Giant Oak, unraced since finishing fourth in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Stonehouse (inside) and General Quarters battle down the stretch.
Jockey Shaun Bridgmohan sent Friesan Fire to the lead immediately and he was joined by General Quarters to his inside. The pair battled for the lead for the first 7 furlongs through fractions of 24.73, 48.20, and 1:12.17. Entering the stretch, 17-1 longest shot Stonehouse, who had stalked the pace in third the whole way under new jockey Miguel Mena, came out wide to pass Friesan Fire at the 1/8 pole. Friesan Fire faded from the pace duel but General Quarters continued to rally on the inside. Stonehouse held him off in the final strides to get the win by a neck in 1:44.09. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to Giant Oak third, and 3 3/4 more to favorite Friesan Fire fourth.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 4 Stonehouse Mena 35.60 9.20 27.60 1 General Quarters Albarado 3.60 8.40 5 Giant Oak Graham 13.60 Winning Time: 1:44.09 $2 Exacta 4-1 128.20 $2 Trifecta 4-1-5 422.20
Left: Stonehouse in the winner's circle. His trainer Joseph "Spanky" Broussard said, "This old horse can run. (Stonehouse) is a nice horse and he's already proved it. He'd already won over half a million dollars. He's raced everywhere. When he sees the truck he jumps right in. 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."
Right: Stonehouse in the post parade. His jockey Miguel Mena said, "My boss told me to take him back. General Quarters put pressure on us in the first turn and in the second turn we were good and it looked like Friesan Fire was galloping and putting pressure on us and he didn't like that."
Left: Trainer and owner Tom McCarthy gives Robby Albarado a leg up on second place finisher General Quarters in the paddock. McCarthy said, "We'll just have to try again. 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. We fell back a little bit and he caught his breath and then he came right on again. He ran a winning race."
Right: Third place finisher Giant Oak in the post parade. His jockey James Graham said, "He kept running through the wire. I'm very pleased. I think he's much better on dirt and I'm looking forward to his next start."
Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Friesan Fire leads as they pass by for the first time. The 3-5 favorite looked very strong in the paddock and post parade, but was passed by the eventual winner at the 1/8 pole and faded in the final 1/16. The Steve Asmussen trainee has a record to 5 wins, 1 second, and 2 thirds in 12 starts, earning $657,765 for owners Vinery Stables and Fox Hill Farms.
The field of the Pan Zareta in the stretch run.
Simplify went to the front down the backstretch under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, and was joined on the turn by Double Espresso to her outside through fractions of 22.96 and 46.70. Through the stretch, Simplify tired and faded to past, as Double Espresso opened a short lead on favorite Dubai Majesty at the 1/8 pole through 5/8 in 58.43. Dubai Majesty put in a rally but Double Espresso was up to the challenge, holding her off by a head in 1:10.82. It was a long 4 3/4 lengths back to Coy Cat third, and another 5 1/2 to Simplify last.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 6 Double Espresso Graham 14.20 3.80 - 5 Dubai Majesty Theriot 2.20 - 1 Coy Cat Valenzuela - Winning Time: 1:10.82 $2 Exacta 6-5 32.80
Left: Double Espresso in the winner's circle with trainer Tom Amoss at her hip. Amoss said, "She's a big filly. She's easily 17 hands. Like a lot of horses that big, she's gotten better with time. Today was one of her best races. I'm a little bit tempted to see how far she can go and obviously that means (the New Orleans Ladies) running against (Rachel Alexandra). We'll see how that plays out."
Right: Double Espresso returns after the race. The 4-year-old daughter of Medaglia d'Oro improved her record to 5 wins, 1 second, and 3 thirds in 10 starts, earning $161,933 for owner Goldmark LLC.
Left: Second place finisher Dubai Majesty in the paddock. Her trainer Bret Calhoun said, "It just makes me sick, absolutely sick. She gets away tardy and I think it costs us the race. I thought she was several lengths the best horse today and if she gets away I think she wins by herself. It's just one of those unlucky things."
Right: Third place finisher Coy Cat returns after the race. The 3-1 second choice raced last on the inside early under jockey Patrick Valenzuela, came three wide into the lane to get third beaten 4 3/4 lengths. The Paul McGee trainee improved her record to 5 wins, 7 seconds, and 3 thirds in 24 starts, earning $245,355 for owner Jay Em Ess Stable.
Left: Retired Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day places a wreath of flowers on the grave of Pan Zareta in the infield after the race. He was at the Fair Grounds signing autographs to raise money for the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.
Right: The grave of 1924 Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby winner Black Gold in the infield which is near Pan Zareta's grave. Tradtionally, a wreath of flowers is placed on the marker each year, usually by the winning jockey. The Black Gold Stakes was held last week so the roses are a bit wilted now.
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