NEW ORLEANS, LA – Tom Durant’s Silver Dust grabbed the lead off of the far turn and took off strongly down the stretch, digging up a golden ticket for his connections in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Mineshaft Handicap at Fair Grounds.
Breaking from post 4 under Jack Gilligan at 5/1 odds, Silver Dust settled into mid-pack while Flameaway was allowed to lead through slow fractions of :25.93, :50.74, and 1:14.82. Making a three-wide bid in the far turn, Silver Dust charged to the front and held a slim lead as he straightened for home. Put to a drive from that point, the Bret Calhoun trainee drifted in and out at various points, but he was still much best the best and crossed with a 2 1/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:45.46 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“I was hoping to be third or fourth in the first turn, but we were able to move up when they slowed it down,” Gilligan said. “He took me around there beautifully on the last turn. I just had to keep him busy down the lane.”
Harlan Punch came rallying late to take second, but shortly after crossing the finish line, he was pulled up and vanned off. Initial reports were that a splint was being placed on his left-front leg, but later in the day, DRF’s Marcus Hersh reported that the x-ray came back negative, indicating a soft tissue injury.
Flameaway weakened in the stretch run but had just enough left to neck out Third Day for third. Phat Man necked out the 2/1 favorite Lone Sailor for fifth, with Long On Luck yet another neck back in seventh. Krewe Chief, Ballard High, and Mo Dont No completed the order of finish. Imperative, Quip, and Thirstforlife all scratched.
Silver Dust’s win was his first in a graded stakes event and his third in his last four starts, with his lone loss coming here behind Harlan Punch in the $72,000 Louisiana Stakes on January 19. The 5-year-old gelded son of Tapit now sports a record of 19-4-4-2 with $354,607 in earnings.
Silver Dust returned $13.40 to win, $5.60 to place, and $4 to show. Harlan Punch brought back $4.20 to place and $3 to show, while Flameaway paid $4.20 to show.