Saturday’s Mineshaft Handicap, the first of four graded stakes on a loaded Saturday card at Fair Grounds, which also features the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (GII) and Risen Star Stakes (GII), drew a field of eight older horses, led by dual Grade II winner International Star.
Eagle, on the strength of his hard-luck 2016 campaign, which saw him finish second four times in seven starts, including the Grade I Stephen Foster, has been made the 5-2 morning line favorite as he makes his 5-year-old debut for trainer Neil Howard.
I think he’s very vulnerable.
With a slow projected pace, I think Paul Van Doren’s Rise Up could prove elusive. The son of Rockport Harbor is 8-for-14 lifetime when leading at the first call and his recent speed figures are the tops in the field.
Should Rise Up fail to rise to the occasion, Dalmore might just be in position to pick up the pieces. After two sharp efforts in the Zia Park Derby and San Pasqual Stakes (GII), the wheels fell off in the San Antonio Stakes (GII) on Feb. 4, when the Keith Desormeaux trainee finished a well-beaten sixth.
Still, his stalking style and past speed and pace figures make him a contender this weekend.
Those seeking a young, up-and-comer should take a long look at December Seven. The son of Street Sense has just five starts under his belt, but looked fantastic in each of his last two. He gets tested for class on Saturday, but his figures say he belongs.