Leading sire Tapit was responsible for an early graded double on Louisiana Derby Preview Day at Fair Grounds Saturday. His classy turf performer Synchrony repeated as the even-money favorite in the Fair Grounds H. (G3), and Silver Dust scored a breakthrough in the $150,000 Mineshaft H. (G3) on the main track.
Pin Oak Stable’s homebred Synchrony, third in the November 24 Seabiscuit (G2) at Del Mar when last seen, was characteristically unhurried early by jockey Joe Bravo. Up front, Great Wide Open carved out fractions of :23.18, :47.37, and 1:11.34 on the firm turf. His pace attendant First Premio put his head in front briefly between calls, but both faded as the closers played their hands.
The 35-1 Bandua rallied smartly in the stretch and forged ahead, only to find Synchrony bearing down inside the final furlong. The favorite took the overland route after having to steady momentarily, and once in the clear, swooped fast to win going away. By finishing 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.09, Synchrony racked up his fifth career stakes victory.
Markitoff got up to take third at 23-1, and Great Wide Open edged First Premio for fourth. Next came Tiz a Slam, dead-heaters Sir Dudley Digges and Combatant, and Big Changes, who lugged out on the clubhouse turn. Sun Lover was withdrawn along with Long on Luck, who ran in the Mineshaft instead.
Synchrony’s resume reads 19-8-3-5, $733,052. The Mike Stidham charge had a breakout 2018, turning the Fair Grounds ‘Cap/Mervin H. Muniz Memorial (G2) double and adding the Oceanport (G3) and Red Bank (G3) at Monmouth. His seven career stakes placings include the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day.
The Kentucky-bred was produced by Grade 3-winning near-millionaire Brownie Points. An admirably versatile daughter of Forest Wildcat, Brownie Points is also responsible for stakes victress and Laurel turf record-setter Points System and stakes-placed Chocolate Kisses.
One race earlier in the Mineshaft, Tom R. Durant’s Silver Dust seized command at the top of the stretch and stayed on determinedly for a new career high. The Bret Calhoun veteran was turning the tables on Harlan Punch, who’d outdueled him in the Louisiana H. in their prior start.
Silver Dust was well placed early by jockey Jack Gilligan, the 5-1 chance moving up to track comebacker Flameaway through splits of :25.93 and :50.74 on the fast main track. Harlan Punch was reserved off the pace this time, and the race shape was also unhelpful for 2-1 favorite Lone Sailor, biding his time at the back.
After six furlongs in 1:14.82, Gilligan sent Silver Dust to the front in a bold stroke to put the race away. Flameaway, as gutsy as in his sophomore campaign, tried to fight back on the inside. Silver Dust wandered around down the lane, but had enough momentum to maintain a 2 1/4-length margin at the wire.
Harlan Punch made headway to snatch second from Flameaway. Unfortunately, Harlan Punch was vanned off the track in the aftermath. Third Day rounded out the superfecta, followed by Phat Man, the belated Lone Sailor, Long on Luck, Krewe Chief, Ballard High, and Mo Dont No. Quip, Imperative, and Thirstforlife were scratched.
Silver Dust completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:45.46 and paid $13.40 to win, and the five-year-old gelding advanced his scorecard to 19-4-4-2, $354,607. Silver Dust tried a handful of stakes at three but failed to gain black-type, his best results being a pair of fourths in the 2017 Southwest (G3) and Iowa Derby (G3). He turned the corner last fall with back-to-back allowance wins at Churchill and Fair Grounds and came close in the January 19 Louisiana ‘Cap.
Bred by Don Alberto Corp. in Kentucky, Silver Dust was twice sold at public auction. The gray fetched $270,000 as a Keeneland September yearling and went to Durant for $510,000 as a juvenile at OBS March. He is out of the Grade 3-placed stakes victress Filare l’Oro, a Hard Spun half-sister to multiple Grade 3 winner Gouldings Green and Korean champion Cheongdam Dokki. This is also the family of multiple Grade 1 heroine Stop Traffic, dam of Grade 1 winner and hot young sire Cross Traffic.
Stakes debutante Mitchell Road, the half-sister to Risen Star (G2) runner-up Country House, gave his same connections a chance to celebrate earlier on the card in the $75,000 Albert M. Stall Memorial. Owned by Mrs. J.V. Shields Jr. and E.J.M McFadden Jr., the Bill Mott pupil pounced from a stalking position. The 4-5 favorite Beau Recall gained in deep stretch, but the 5-2 Mitchell Road kept finding more to hold her safe by three-quarters of a length. Luis Saez guided the English Channel filly as she negotiated about 1 1/16 miles, appropriately on the Stall-Wilson turf, in 1:41.32.
Now the winner of three straight after capturing allowances at Aqueduct and Gulfstream, Mitchell Road has earned $154,570 from her 6-4-2-0 record. Her dam, the winning War Chant mare Quake Lake, is herself a half to Grade 3 hero and multiple Grade 1-placed Breaking Lucky (by Country House’s sire, Lookin at Lucky).
Also making a successful stakes debut was Marc Detampel and Sunshine State Racing’s Chaos Theory, who surged late in the $75,000 Colonel Power to spring the 9-1 upset. Trained by Brendan Walsh and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, Chaos Theory mowed down Savage Battle and Latent Revenge in 1:03.07 for about 5 1/2 grassy furlongs. The Curlin gelding advanced his line to 6-3-0-0, $98,690. All three of his wins have come at this course and distance, including an entry-level allowance last out.