July 18, 2024

Rivalries continue in Mineshaft, Fair Grounds on Louisiana Derby Preview Day

Happy American with jockey James Graham wins Louisiana Stakes (Photo by Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir)

The undercard on Saturday’s Louisiana Derby Preview Day at Fair Grounds will feature several rematches from stakes held at the New Orleans track on Jan. 21.

Gentle Soul and Two Emmys, separated by a half-length at the finish of the Colonel E.R. Bradley S., will square off again in the $150,000 Fair Grounds (G3), which immediately precedes the program’s three-year-old features. The Bradley was the first stakes win for Gentle Soul, while Grade 1 veteran Two Emmys was having his first outing since June.

Also turning up in the entries for the about nine-furlong test on the grass is Cavalry Charge, who upset the 2022 renewal of the Fair Grounds at 35-1. Multiple graded stakes winner Tiz the Bomb returns from a spell dating to August, while the Godolphin-owned Pixelate has won or placed in four of five starts over the local turf. Grade 3 winner Corelli makes his second start off a long layoff, and Bay Street Money enters his stakes debut with a 2-for-3 record since joining the Mike Maker barn.

The $150,000 Mineshaft (G3), at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, will mark the third meeting of the Fair Grounds meet between Happy American and Mr. Wireless. Happy American has had the upper hand so far, taking the Dec. 26 Tenacious S. by 2 3/4 lengths, though the margin was only a neck in the Jan. 21 Louisiana (G3).

The field also includes Tawny Port, last year’s Ohio Derby (G3) and Lexington (G3) winner who missed by only two lengths to champion Epicenter in the Jim Dandy (G2) two back, which was followed by a clunker in the Pennsylvania Derby (G1). Pioneer of Medina, who placed in last season’s Louisiana Derby (G2), enters off a second-place effort in the Harlan’s Holiday (G3) at Gulfstream.

The $100,000 Colonel Power S., like last month’s Duncan F. Kenner S., could prove a stronger race if it happens to be switched to the main track. Scheduled for about 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, the Colonel Power is headlined by Surveillance, who’s won all three main track sprint stakes this winter, though his limited turf form is acceptable enough to warrant a start if the race stays on the grass.

Phoenix (G2) winner Manny Wah finished third in the Duncan Kenner, while 2022 Colonel Power winner Pyron, Ice Chocolat, and All in Sync are others that merit consideration on the turf.

The stakes action Saturday kicks off with the $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial for fillies and mares at about 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Likely contenders include Lake Lucerne, My Philly Twirl, and Island Hideaway.