Mineshaft improved to a perfect 3-for-3 in the United States and posted his first stakes victory stateside in the $75,000 Diplomat Way Handicap Sunday at Fair Grounds. Ridden by Robby Albarado, Mineshaft looked clear in the stretch, but needed the finish line in time to hold a charging Learned on the outside. A thrilling finish in the 1 1/16-mile test for older horses produced a nose victory for the regally bred son of A.P. Indy. "He ran a very good race," said trainer Neil Howard, who also trains Mineshaft's full brother, Rock Slide. "He lost his concentration a little in the lane where the starting gate was. There could be some improvement in his running style." Mineshaft's running style was near a rapid pace set by Freon Flier, who pushed the envelope through fractions of 24.28 seconds for the quarter mile and 47.55 for the half. Mineshaft shook clear of Discreet Hero in the stretch, but never felt the danger to his outside as the wire approached. "Down the backside I had to weave him out a few times, which might have cost him," said Learned's jockey Calvin Borel. "I kept him a little late until I felt he was ready. I may have waited a little too long." Mineshaft finished in 1:43.88. "I knew it was fairly close," said Albarado, who has been aboard in each of the colt's three wins in the United States. "Maybe we'll have it down pat in the big race. I feel like he was looking to his inside and was being distracted (in the lane). He really played a lot down the stretch. He'll get better in time with more racing experience." Owned and bred by William S. Farish, Temple Webber, and James Elkins, Mineshaft returned $4.00, $2.80, and $2.10. (Chart, Equibase)Mineshaft eclipsed the $100,000 mark in earnings with his fourth win from 10 starts.
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