NEW ORLEANS, LA – Absent from racing for six months, Gary Broad’s Core Beliefs made a victorious return on Saturday, taking over at the top of the stretch before repelling Silver Dust late to win the New Orleans Handicap (G2) at Fair Grounds.

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Breaking well from the far outside 11 post under Florent Geroux at 9/1, Core Beliefs initially raced four-wide as he passed the judges for the first time before sliding over to run two-wide alongside Bandua in third. Up front, last year’s Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Noble Indy led Mr. Buff through opening fractions of :23.56, :47.26, and 1:12.15. Advancing through the far turn to run three-wide alongside the early pacesetters, Core Beliefs emerged onto the top of the stretch with a slight lead, but Silver Dust was rallying strongly alongside the outside, ready for battle.

The two dug in and fought gamely until mid stretch when Geroux corrected a slightly-wandering Core Beliefs, and the race was over from there. Inching clear late, the Peter Eurton trainee crossed with a 3/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:51.36 for the 1 1/8-mile event over the fast main track.

“I had horse, I was just hoping he’d keep his focus,” Geroux said. “That was my only concern, not whether we had enough horse, but keeping him busy and keeping him focused to the wire. He was trying to wander around and I just needed to keep him occupied.”

Credit: Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir

Silver Dust was unable to repeat the success he experienced here last out in the Mineshaft Handicap (G3) and almost lost second before withstanding a late charge from Lone Sailor down the middle of the track. Bandua flattened out in the stretch to take fourth, while the 2/1 favorite Copper Bullet never factored into the serious running and finished fifth. Noble Indy weakened to sixth ahead of Souper Tapit, with Krewe Chief and a spent Mr. Buff completing the order of finish. Mo Dont No and Noble Commander were scratched.

Core Beliefs’ win was his first since taking the Ohio Derby (G3) by a nostril over Lone Sailor on June 23 and improved his overall record to 9-3-1-3. The 4-year-old son of Quality Road, purchased for $350,000 as a juvenile, has now earned $872,660 in his career.

“He loves the outside so much,” Eurton said. “We saw that in the Ohio Derby. He gets a little bogged down when he gets stuck on the rail.”

Core Beliefs returned $20.20 to win, $9.40 to place, and $6 to show. Silver Dust brought back $7.80 to place and $4.80 to show, while Lone Sailor paid $3.60 to show.