(Silver Dust / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Fair Grounds Media Team:
The three-year-olds may have taken center stage on the “Louisiana Derby Preview Day” at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, but led by Silver Dust, the repeat winner of the Mineshaft (G3), four older stakes winners also put their hoof prints on a memorable Saturday afternoon.
Eyeing a repeat score as the 9-5 favorite in $200,000 Mineshaft Stakes (G3), Tom Durant’s Silver Dust successfully defended his title for trainer Bret Calhoun.
Jockey Brian Hernandez — Silver Dust (1st):
With Silver Dust’s regular rider Jack Gilligan sidelined due to injury, Bret Calhoun gave the leg up to Brian Hernandez, Jr.
“Jack and I had dinner last night and I got as much information as I could,” Hernandez, Jr. said. “This horse is just getting better and better. You just have to trust him. He is a little bit of a quirky horse from what I’ve seen. Jack has done a great job riding him and I was fortunate enough to fill in. I learned from watching replays to stay out of his way and give him the most comfortable trip I can. That’s what we did today. He ran nice and easy early and when we turned for home, he picked it up.”
Owner Tom Durant — Silver Dust:
“We wish he was this good as a three-year-old,” owner Tom Durant said of a horse who at one time was considered an underachiever. “In all seriousness, this is my first six-year-old to race. I have raced a lot of horses and I’ve never raced one this age. He seems to just be getting better and better as we go and I’m hoping he can continue to impress us.”
Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. — Gun It (2nd):
“He improved a lot today,” jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr. said. We changed everything with him. We took him back today and he responded very well. He was aggressive in the first part, but then relaxed and had a nice run. The best horse won today.”
G3 Fair Grounds Stakes:
Eyeing his third consecutive victory in the Fair Grounds (G3) for trainer Mike Stidham, Pin Oak Stable’s 7-5 favorite Synchrony came up a length short as the pacesetting Factor This completed the gate-to-wire voyage for Gaining Ground Racing LLC and trainer Brad Cox.
Trainer Brad Cox — Factor This (1st):
“We were much more confident today as opposed to last time out,” Cox said of a recent third place finish in the Buddy Diliberto Memorial, a race in which Factor This tired a bit after battling a much more taxing pace. “Some key scratches really helped us out today and Shaun (jockey Bridgmohan) did a great job. He was able to let him relax down the backside which was key. You could see him flick his ears up and really settle down and he had plenty left in the tank turning for home.”
Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes:
Dismissed at odds of 16-1, Robert Low and Lawana Low’s She’sonthewarpath scored her second career stakes victory in the $100,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes over 1 1/16th miles of firm turf.
Jockey Chantal Sutherland — She’sonthewarpath (1st):
“Steve (Margolis, the trainer) thought we were going to be forwardly placed and I agreed,” Chantal Sutherland said. “We were on the same page. We had a really good trip and she just exploded today. It was just really exciting to win and I’m so grateful for the connections, Steve and his wife (Sue), and the whole barn have done an amazing job and they have always been so supportive of me.
Colonel Power Stakes:
In the $100,000 Colonel Power Stakes, the first of seven added-money events on the card, Griffin Farms and Michelle Lovell’s 20-1 homebred longshot Just Might made every pole a winning one under Colby Hernandez.
Jockey Colby Hernandez — Just Might (1st):
“Michelle (trainer Lovell) told me if he broke well to let him go,” Hernandez said. “He dug in at the end there for me and really gave me everything he had. I’m really proud of this horse.”