International Star Facing Only Four Rivals in $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap
Category : News
Tue 16/02/2016 - 08:06 EST
The stakes action will kick off on Saturday at Fair Grounds with the $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap. Scheduled to be run at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track, the Grade 3 event has drawn a compact field of five colts and geldings.
International Star headlines the field as the morning line favorite at odds of 8-5 for trainer Michael Maker. Purchased for $85,000 by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, the four-year-old son of Fusaichi Pegasus has won six of his eleven starts and is a multiple graded stakes winner. Four of those six victories came at Fair Grounds. He made his second start off of an eight-month layoff a winning one last time out in the Louisiana Stakes and will have regular rider Miguel Mena aboard from post position three.
Eagle trying to turn the tables on International Star
Second choice at morning line odds of 2-1 is Eagle for trainer Neil Howard. A four-year-old son of Candy Ride (ARG), he is a homebred for W.S. Farish and has been on the board in eight of his ten starts. He is trying to earn the sixth victory of his career as well as his first graded stakes win. He is coming out of a runner-up effort in the Louisiana Stakes and will break from post position four under jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr.
Point Piper needs to make a step forward
Also in the field at morning line odds of 3-1 is Point Piper for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. A six-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway, he has been on the board in eleven of his nineteen starts and is a four-time winner. He will have to improve after finishing sixth in the San Pasqual Stakes (G2) last time out and is trying to earn his first graded stakes win. Julian Leparoux will be aboard and they will break from post position two.
There will always be Kentucky Derby entrants that would be much better suited to skip the race entirely and find a better spot if not for the gusto of their well-meaning owners, but the Road to the Derby point qualifying system has been remarkably efficient at making the race more of a level-playing field since its inception four years ago.
On Saturday at Keeneland, the featured race is the $250,000 Dixiana Elkhorn Stakes. Scheduled to be run at one mile on the turf, the Grade 2 event has drawn a field of eight colts and geldings.
With a largely underwhelming, and thus far, slow, group of three year-olds set to contest the 2016 Kentucky Derby, logical handicappers searching for a pick outside of the undefeated and likely highly-favored Nyquist may have already begun the hand-wringing process.
On Friday at Oaklawn Park, the featured race is the $600,000 Apple Blossom Stakes. Restricted to fillies and mares, the Grade 1 event will be contested at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track and has drawn a field of six.