Mineshaft Handicap Picks and Preview

Mo Tom and Dazzling Gem Ones to Watch in Mineshaft at Fair Grounds

The 32nd running of the $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap (G3) at the Fair Grounds is set for race 8 on Saturday, Feb. 25. Five stakes races are part of the big day of racing at the Fair Grounds starting with the Daisy Devine.

Eight older horses will go to post in this year’s competitive Mineshaft, and fan favorite Mo Tom is sure to get plenty of betting interest at 5-1 on the morning line. G M B Racing suffered through some tough luck last year as Mo Tom had troubled trips down the lane in both the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. Trainer Tom Amoss has also entered a rabbit to run up front in Rise Up (10/1), so Mo Tom should benefit along with leading rider Florent Geroux hopping aboard.

Mo Tom winning the Ohio Derby

The Mineshaft Handicap has been the plan all along for Amoss, who recently said Mo Tom “has really put on weight and looks like a phenomenal horse”. We feel Mo Tom will be a much better 4–year-old this year and we’re expecting big things from him in upcoming graded stakes races. One thing for sure is he’s a stone cold late closer and that’s been his dismay in quite a few races. He needs pace help up front and also has to navigate around the front runners that are backing up down the lane. We see Geroux making a huge sweeping move out in the middle of the track and it will be hard to deny him at the wire if he can carve out a clean trip.

Mo Tom’s work over the Fair Grounds Race Course this winter has signaled that he’s ready to fire a career effort in the Mineshaft. It’s often much easier for closers to come off the bench and fire right away rather than front runners. When a closer breaks, he’s taken back and is in an open gallop as he’s not engaged with any other runner on the front end. This way they can establish a very nice breathing pattern and have plenty of energy left once the real running starts down the lane. On the other hand, the pressers break hard and are running strong from the first jump with their ears pinned and usually have plenty of company on the front end. This can cause much more stress on a presser coming off a layoff as they are exerting all their energy at fist asking.

We don’t anticipate getting anything close to morning line on Mo Tom (5/1) as he may well be the post time favorite when the gates open. The other runner that will give Mo Tom a run for his money down the lane is Dazzling Gem (5/1), who was scratched at Oaklawn on Presidents Day as his connections choose to stay home and duck Gun Runner for this spot.  The son of Misrembered, Dazzling Gem has quality to him, but he just seems to be that type of enigma horse. He’ll give you a huge effort and you’re expecting his next out to be better and for some reason he’ll run flat down the lane. He ran 2nd last out to Hawaakom in the Louisiana Stakes, and Hawaakom returned on Presidents Day to run 2nd to Gun Runner at Oaklawn.

Note too that Dazzling Gem worked a very strong 4 furlongs in 47.3 on Feb. 19, which was the second-best of 102 works that day. He tipped his hand with that work as you don’t see many 4 furlongs in 47 and change breezing over the deep Fair Grounds surface in the morning. With race favorite Eagle (5/2) along with International Star (4/1) and Dalmore (6/1) also big names in this competitive field, there should be a pretty good price on Dazzling Gem with others taking money at the windows.

Our suggested wagering strategy would be to use both Mo Tom and Dazzling Gem in all rolling wagers and make a win and place wager on Mo Tom.

The Mineshaft Handicap is race 8 and also is the first leg for the .50 Black Gold 5 with a post time of 3:39 p.m. Central at the Fair Grounds Race Course.

Kenny Schmitt contributed to this article. Follow him on Twitter @FBWinners.

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