Like a fine wine, Silver Dust has improved with age. On Saturday at Fair Grounds, the 6-year-old son of Tapit battled to a tenacious victory in the $200,000 Mineshaft (G3), securing the fourth graded stakes triumph of his increasingly decorated career.
Silver Dust has shown an affinity for Fair Grounds, winning the Louisiana (G3) on Jan. 18, and the Bret Calhoun-trained gelding kept his momentum going in the Mineshaft. With jockey Brian Hernandez filling in for the injured Jack Gilligan, Silver Dust settled three lengths off the pace as Pirate’s Punch forged out increasingly testing fractions of :24.41, :47.25, and 1:11.42.
Silver Dust made his move into the teeth of the third quarter-mile, racing up alongside the pacesetter and gradually edging clear early in the long homestretch. Down the lane, 30-1 shot Gun It made a bold effort to catch Silver Dust, but the 18-10 favorite proved resilient under urging from Hernandez, digging deep to prevail by three-quarters of a length.
Bred by Don Alberto Corp. and owned by Tom R. Durant, Silver Dust stopped the timer for 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.40. Pirates Punch held for third place, followed by Captivating Moon, Cutting Humor, Sleepy Eyes Todd, Hofburg, Winning Number, and Mocito Rojo.
Silver Dust’s rise through the ranks is impressive when you consider he lost 14 of his first 15 starts. Maturity has done wonders for the gray gelding, who secured his first graded stakes triumph in the 2019 Mineshaft. With six victories from his last 11 starts, Silver Dust has pushed his earnings to $822,277.
The Mineshaft was one of seven stakes races contested on Saturday at Fair Grounds. The three grass events produced a trio of rail-skimming winners led by 8-1 shot Factor This in the $150,000 Fair Grounds (G3). Given a bold front-running ride by Shaun Bridgmohan, Factor This opened up a 2 1/2-length lead in midstretch and refused to yield in the final furlong, stemming off a late challenge from favored Synchrony to win by a length. Trained by Brad Cox, Factor clocked 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.29 over a firm course.
Identical front-running tactics worked wonders for 20-1 longshot Just Might in the $100,000 Colonel Power S. sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs. Left alone on an uncontested lead. Just Might got away with a modest :22.01 opening quarter and stubbornly resisted the final surge of favored Chaos Theory to score by a neck in 1:02.15. Colby Hernandez guided the son of Justin Phillip for trainer Michelle Lovell.
Similar to Factor This and Just Might, 16-1 outsider She’sonthewarpath employed ground-saving tactics to claim the $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial S. Reserved in midpack for much of the race by jockey Chantal Sutherland, She’sonthewarpath slipped outside in the homestretch and kicked clear impressively to defeat 13-10 favorite Mitchell Road by two lengths. Steve Margolis conditions the daughter of Declaration of War, who stopped the timer of 1:42.25.