Despite a bump at the start and a wide trip around both turns, Honorable Duty proved himself a horse on the rise by taking the $122,500 Mineshaft H. (G3), a prep for the April 1 New Orleans H. (G2), by a diminishing half-length over International Star on Saturday at Fair Grounds.
Winner of the $75,000 Tenacious when last seen on December 17, Honorable Duty was sent away the fifth choice in a field of seven, albeit at 5-1 in a wide-open betting race. Racing in the clear mid-pack as Rise Up held a long lead through splits of :23.69 and :46.79, Honorable Duty advanced around the turn, seized control in upper stretch, and lasted as International Star attempted to split the winner and Dazzling Gem late.
Owned by DAARS Inc. and trained by Brendan Walsh, Honorable Duty paid $12.40 after completing 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.03. Grade 3 winner Eagle, making his first start since July, finished fourth ahead of narrow 3-1 choice December Seven.
A belated maiden winner at Keeneland over 1 1/4 miles last April, Honorable Duty followed up with two allowance wins at Churchill, but went unplaced in his first two stakes outings. However, he turned the tables with a game score in the Tenacious. The five-year-old by Distorted Humor has now earned $261,276 from a line of 11-5-2-1.
Trainer Mike Maker had the top three betting choices in the $122,500 Fair Grounds H. (G3), but captured the about 1 1/8-mile grass stakes with the longest price of the trio, Enterprising, who scored at 3-1 under Julien Leparoux.
A tracking second behind stablemate and 13-10 favorite Oscar Nominated, Enterprising wore down that long-time leader in deep stretch and prevailed by three parts of a length in a time of 1:48.80 on firm ground. The Maxis Stable color bearer paid $8.
Oscar Nominated held second by a length over One Mean Man. Granny’s Kitten, the Maker-trained second choice, finished fifth in the field of seven.
A six-year-old gelded son of Elusive Quality, Enterprising is a six-time stakes winner. His previous high mark was a win in the 2014 La Jolla H. (G3) at Del Mar when he was owned by breeder Glen Hill Farm and trained by Tom Proctor. The Florida-bred joined his present connections last summer and has won or placed in six consecutive stakes. His record now stands at 28-8-4-5, $594,040.
The Fair Grounds H. is a prep for the Muniz Memorial (G3) on the Louisiana Derby (G2) undercard on April 1.
Two turf course records were set earlier in the program, one of which occurred in the $72,000 Daisy Devine for fillies and mares. Believe in Bertie, the lone speed in a field reduced from eight to five due to scratches, held off Kitten’s Roar by a half-length to score her third win of the meet in a time of 1:40.31 for about 1 1/16 miles.
Owned by Richard and Bert Klein and ridden here by Shaun Bridgmohan, Believe in Bertie paid $3.20. Second choice Cambodia was a neck farther back in third.
A homebred daughter of Langfuhr bred in Louisiana, Believe in Bertie was a state-bred stakes winner at Evangeline Downs last July. She kicked off the current Fair Grounds session with back-to-back wins, by a combined 13 1/2 lengths, in a state-bred allowance and the $75,000 Pago Hop on New Year’s Eve.
A four-year-old trained by Brad Cox, Believe in Bertie has now earned $298,882 from a mark of 10-5-3-0.
In the $50,000 Colonel Power overnight stakes, second choice Hogy ($7.60) rated much closer to the pace than usual under Florent Geroux and was rewarded with a one-length victory over 9-10 favorite Green Mask in a time of 1:01.56 for about 5 1/2 furlongs.
Owned by Bill Stiritz and trained by Scott Becker, Hogy has won six times in stakes company, his signature win having come in the 2013 Hanshin Cup (G3) at Arlington.
An eight-year-old son of Offlee Wild, Hogy has now earned $848,727 from a line of 41-16-10-5.