Mr. Misunderstood will ride a five-race win streak into Saturday’s $150,000 Fair Grounds H. (G3), feature among the four stakes for older horses on Louisiana Derby Preview Day.
The Brad Cox trainee has won nine of 13 overall, but has proved most adept on the turf, over which he is eight-for-eight. Three of those scores have come over the Fair Grounds lawn, including the $75,000 Woodchopper when last seen December 30.
While expected to be the favorite in the about 1 1/8-mile test, Mr. Misunderstood has not yet faced a field comprised of horses older than himself. All five of his stakes wins last season occurred against fellow three-year-olds.
“He couldn’t be doing any better,” Cox said. “He looks amazing, he’s happy and he’s doing great mentally and physically.”
Galton, second five times in eight Fair Grounds turf appearances, was second to Tower of Texas in last month’s $125,000 Colonel E.R. Bradley H. and returns from his base in Florida. Trainer Mike Maker also saddles Granny’s Kitten, seventh in his Bradley title defense following a layoff of more than nine months.
Other intriguing entries include Pin Oak homebred Synchrony, an allowance winner here in his turf debut last March and subsequently Grade 3-placed in the Red Bank at Monmouth. Catcho En Die, a Group 1 winner in Argentina in just his third career start in early 2016, made a positive impression in his U.S. debut at Gulfstream in late December, rallying for second in an allowance. It was the Bill Mott trainee’s first start in more than 22 months.
Cedartown, a convincing scorer over graded stakes winners in the $200,000 Zia Park Derby and $75,000 Louisiana in his last two starts, will seek a first graded victory of his own in the $150,000 Mineshaft H. (G3) over 1 1/16 miles.
The two-length triumph over Scuba in the January 13 Louisiana was the third straight for the Godolphin-owned colt, who has never been worse than second in seven starts for trainer Mike Stidham.
Among those re-opposing is Scuba, a multiple graded winner who took the Hawthorne Gold Cup (G3) two back, and Fayette (G2) hero The Player, a disappointing fourth in the Louisiana as the 4-5 favorite.
The $75,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial, for fillies and mares at about 1 1/16 miles on the turf, looks very much like last month’s Marie Krantz Memorial. Moms On Strike and Giada Vegas, separated by a half-length at the finish of that one, return for the Stall as do several Krantz also-rans.
Adding more intrigue are Hallie Belle, who took the $74,000 Pago Hop in late December; Malibu Bonnie, victorious in three of her last four starts at Woodbine for Mark Casse; and Florida shipper I’m Betty G, who was multiple Grade 3-placed last season.
An interesting edition of the $50,000 Colonel Power for older horses at about 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf features the return of Holding Gold, winner last year of the Shakertown (G3) at Keeneland and beaten less than two lengths in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) last time.
Will Call, winner of his two course-and-distance tries this meet, faces stakes company for the first time. Imma Bling captured the $74,000 Bonapaw at these conditions in December, while Partly Mocha was recently re-claimed by Mike Maker, who trained the veteran to a pair of turf sprint stakes wins in early 2017.
Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash (G3) hero Chublicious was also entered, perhaps in the event of a surface switch, after runner-up finishes in the Thanksgiving H. and Duncan F. Kenner on the main track behind Yockey’s Warrior.