Preludes for the New Orleans H. (G2) and Muniz Memorial (G2) at the end of the meet will take place on Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Preview Day program at Fair Grounds.
The leading lights of the $125,000 Mineshaft H. (G3), at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, are Eagle, International Star, and Mo Tom, all of whom are making their 2017 debuts in the leading prep for the New Orleans.
Out of action since running fourth in the Suburban H. (G2) last July, Eagle missed winning the 2016 Mineshaft by a head before his elevation to third in the New Orleans. The Will Farish homebred later captured the Ben Ali (G3) at Keeneland before runner-up finishes in the Alysheba (G2) and Stephen Foster H. (G1), both at Churchill Downs.
International Star, who swept Fair Grounds’ three classic preps in 2015, ran fourth in the Mineshaft and second in the New Orleans a year ago before ending his season prematurely on a down note with unplaced efforts in the Charles Town Classic (G2) and Stephen Foster. Mo Tom, the youngest of the trio, captured the Lecomte (G3) and Ohio Derby last season, but has not run since a dull fifth in the Super Derby (G3) in September.
Grade 3 winner and Super Derby runner-up Dalmore invades from California for Keith Desormeaux following a sixth in the San Antonio (G2), while the locally-based contenders Honorable Duty, Dazzling Gem, and the speedy Rise Up will attempt to step up and make their presence felt.
The $125,000 Fair Grounds H. (G3), an about nine-furlong prep for the Muniz on the Stall-Wilson turf course, brings together many of the same faces that featured in two grass stakes earlier in the meet. Granny’s Kitten narrowly edged Western Reserve in the Colonel E.R. Bradley H. (G3) last month over soft ground, but is well-versed on firm going which, if the forecast holds, is the expected footing on Saturday.
Two starts back, Western Reserve had won a three-horse photo with Greengrassofyoming and Granny’s Kitten in the $75,000 Diliberto Memorial. The latter two are half of a quartet trained by Mike Maker, the others being Grade 3 scorer and last-out John B. Connally Turf Cup (G3) second Oscar Nominated and the Sunshine Millions Turf runner-up Enterprising.
One Mean Man, who might not have handled the boggy going in the Bradley, could rebound here for Bernie Flint. The Mizzen Mast colt won four stakes last season from Minnesota to Louisiana, including the American Derby (G3) at Arlington.
Believe in Bertie, impressive winner of the Pago Hop on New Year’s Eve by 7 3/4 lengths, will take on older rivals in the $75,000 Daisy Devine for fillies and mares at about 1 1/16 miles on the turf. The field also includes the top three from the Marie Krantz Memorial on January 21: Kitten’s Roar, Prado’s Sweet Ride, and Cambodia.
The $50,000 Colonel Power, an about 5 1/2-furlong overnight stakes for grass sprinters, features a rematch of the top three from the Bonapaw on December 17: Green Mask, Latent Revenge, and Hogy.