Mineshaft ran his American record to five wins in six starts with a nine-length victory over three overmatched foes in the Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland on Friday, and the 4-year-old colt by A.P. Indy now takes aim at his first grade I contest, the Pimlico Special in Baltimore on May 16, Preakness eve.
The Ben Ali, a nine-furlong event being run for the 73rd time, attracted a field of eight older horses, but the field was reduced to just four starters because of scratches.
Robbie Albarado settled Mineshaft into third position early as California invader Metatron (third in the 2001 Lanes End Breeders' Futurity, gr. II at Keeneland in his only start there) assumed the role of pacesetter. American Style tried to make a run at the leader going into the far turn, but Mineshaft zoomed past both horses quickly, opening up a lengthy lead down the stretch under a hand ride from Albarado. American Style finished second, with Metatron third. X Country trailed throughout.
Mineshaft, who began his career with trainer John Gosden in England, where he won just one of seven starts, joined Neil Howard's barn last fall, winning once at Churchill Downs and three times this winter at Fair Grounds.
"He's a lovely colt, and ran well," Howard said after the Ben Ali. "The plan was to use this as a prep for the Pimlico Special. Hopefully he'll come out well and we'll go on to Pimlico with him."
Produced from the Mr. Prospector mare Prospectors Delite, whose grade I successes included the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, Mineshaft races for the owner/breeder partnership of James Elkins, W. Temple Webber Jr., and William S. Farish, the United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James and owner of Lane's End Farm, where A.P. Indy stands at stud.