Happy American (outside) takes the G3 Louisiana over Mr. Wireless (center) Jan. 21 (Hodges Photography)
Fair Grounds Press Release
NEW ORLEANS— With a competitive field of nine signed on, Lothenbach Stables’ Happy American and Jon Lapczenski and JIL Stable’s Mr. Wireless are set for another rematch in Saturday’s 38th running of the $250,000 Mineshaft Stakes (G3) presented by Relyne GI by Hagyard.
The 1 1/16-mile Mineshaft will go as Race 10 of 14 with a post time of 4:37 p.m. CT. It is the second leg of the “All Stakes Late Pick Five” with a low 15% takeout and a guaranteed pool of $500,000.
Saturday’s stellar program features six stakes events headlined by the 51st running of the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) presented by Lamarque Ford-Lincoln. The supporting stakes on the card are the $300,000 Rachel Alexandra (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton, the $150,000 Fair Grounds Stakes (G3) presented by Horse Racing Nation, the $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial (Listed) and the $100,000 Colonel Power Stakes.
In last month’s $150,000 Louisiana Stakes (G3), the local prep for the Mineshaft, Happy American stormed home from off the pace to nail Mr. Wireless in the final stages of the 1 1/16-mile race. Trained by Neil Pessin, Happy American began his meet at Fair Grounds on Dec. 26 with a 2 3/4-length score in the $100,000 Tenacious Stakes, beating out Mr. Wireless there as well. The 5-year-old son of Runhappy has recorded five wins from 16 starts and the local record is 9-2-1-2—$201,350.
“When he came back from winning the Tenacious he was dragging us around the barn,” Pessin said. “After the Louisiana, we gave him a week off, but then he got right back at it. (On Friday Feb. 10) he worked 5/8ths in 1:02.04 and he came back acting like he didn’t do anything. We’ll need to give him a break at some point but right now, he’s sharp. He’s doing good. When they’re good, you run them.”
Jockey James Graham will be back in the saddle for the Mineshaft and break from post No. 6.
Mr. Wireless will attempt to avenge his back-to-back defeats at the hooves of Happy American in Saturday’s Mineshaft. Trained by Bret Calhoun, Mr. Wireless recorded two Grade 3 victories as a 3-year-old in the $300,000 Indiana Derby and the $500,000 West Virginia Derby. Mr. Wireless returned as a 4-year-old and scored a two-length win in the $100,000 Schaefer Memorial at Horseshoe Indianapolis and a determined head victory in a $150,000 allowance event at Churchill Downs.
“Even though they gave him a lower number (speed figure), I thought his last race (The Louisiana) was a better race than he ran in the Tenacious,” Calhoun said. “I think he moved forward a little bit (in the Louisiana). He’s a consistent hard-knocking horse. He’s going to win his share, and he’s gotten close the last couple times. He’s gotten good trips and there’s been no excuses really. He just needs to continue to work out those kind of trips and try to turn the tables on him. I think this race will definitely be a tougher race than the previous two.”
The six-time winning son of Dialed In will be ridden by Deshawn Parker from post No. 8.
Along with Happy American and Mr. Wireless, the Mineshaft field features a deep cast of older horses including Peachtree Stable’s multiple Grade III winner Tawny Port, who is making his 4-year-old debut. Trained by Brad Cox, Tawny Port earned his way into the Kentucky Derby 148 starting gates winning the Lexington (G3) going 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland.
“He’s been breezing well and he looks really good physically,” Cox said. “It’s a good spot to get him started back. It’s definitely a solid race. I’m hopeful that he’ll get a good run, a good performance and a good finish. We’ll see about next steps, but we’re looking for a big year from him. He doesn’t have a ton of speed, he just grinds it out. He doesn’t come out of the gates and put himself up in the mix very early.”
Rounding out the field of nine are Sumaya U.S. Stables’ multiple graded stakes placed Pioneer of Medina, Dream Team One Racing Stable’s Grade I placed Hoist the Gold and Silverton Hill’s recent Fair Grounds allowance winner Big Blue Line, trained by Paul McGee.
“There’s some nice horses in there, but my horse is doing really well,” McGee said. “He showed a new dimension the other day (winning an allowance on Jan. 14) and won from off the pace. His other two wins were wire-to-wire. He’s getting better, but I’ve really liked him all along. Some of those 3-year-old stakes he ran in were salty races. Ain’t Life Grand who beat him in the Iowa Derby came back to win at Saratoga. My horse had dirt kicked in his face all the way around. Then it was Rattle N Roll in the St. Louis Derby. He’s seen some good horses.”
Here is the complete field for the Mineshaft from the rail out (with jockey, trainer, and morning line):1. Hoist the Gold (Brian Hernandez Jr. Dallas Stewart, 6-1); 2. Run Classic (Rey Gutierrez, Bret Calhoun, 10-1); 3. Tawny Port (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 4-1); 4. Farmington Road (Tyler Gaffalione, Cherie DeVaux, 15-1); 5. Big Blue Line (Corey Lanerie, Paul McGee, 8-1); 6. Happy American (Graham, Pessin, 7-2); 7. Pioneer of Medina (Luis Saez, Todd Pletcher, 9-2); 8. Mr. Wireless (Parker, Calhoun, 5-1); 9. King Fury (Mitchell Murrill, Kenny McPeek, 10-1).