02/24/2010 1:00AM

Four from Mineshaft target New Orleans Cap


Expect the first four finishers from the Mineshaft Handicap last Saturday to return in the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap on March 27.

That quartet includes upset winner Stonehouse, a horse who really wasn't even supposed to have raced in the Mineshaft. Trainer Spanky Broussard said his original plan had called for Stonehouse to use a Fair Grounds turf sprint as a prep face for the Gulf Coast Classic at Delta Downs, after which Stonehouse would have gone on to a stakes race at Oaklawn, then back to Chicago. But when Delta canceled Broussard's intended target, Broussard altered Stonehouse's agenda.

"I changed my plans, and I changed my training on him," Broussard said Wednesday morning.

Broussard said that if Stonehouse, who at age 6 was winning his first graded stakes, trained to his satisfaction, the horse would return for the New Orleans Handicap.

Getting back on to the racetrack Wednesday morning was beaten Mineshaft favorite Friesan Fire, who checked in fourth after contesting a moderate early pace, but also is likely to run back in the New Orleans Handicap. Closing third-place Mineshaft finisher Giant Oak got in a useful 2010 debut, and his connections have targeted the New Orleans Handicap all winter. So, too, with General Quarters, who won the early battle with Friesan Fire, only to be passed late in the Mineshaft by Stonehouse.

"He came out of the race marvelous," owner-trainer Tom McCarthy said of General Quarters. "We took him back to the track today, and he went very, very well. As a matter of fact, he galloped a little stronger than I wanted him to."

Jody Slew likely to stay for Oaks

The connections of Jody Slew nominated the 3-year-old filly to the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, but operating off the principle of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," they are more likely to start Jody Slew in the March 26 Fair Grounds Oaks than await the Keeneland spot.

Jody Slew was purchased last fall as a turf prospect, but now has swept the first two legs of Fair Grounds series of dirt-route stakes for 3-year-old fillies. After scoring a half-length victory in the Jan. 23 Tiffany Lass, Jody Slew nipped Quiet Temper to win the Grade 3 Silverbulletday last Saturday.

"We nommed to Ashland just because, but I think we'd be a fool to try something different at this point," said trainer Bret Calhoun. "I still think she might be better on turf, so I was thinking synthetic at Keeneland, but I'm 99 percent sure she'll be back here."

Keeneland, however, is the likely next stop for turf-sprinter Chamberlain Bridge, who looked good winning the Colonel Power Stakes last Saturday in his 2010 debut. Calhoun said Chamberlain Bridge, for lack of a Fair Grounds option, would be pointed to the Shakertown on April 10 at Keeneland.