By Ray Paulick -- The 20th running of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships had everything a racing fan could ask for: heart-pounding finishes; championship performances, boxcar mutuels, and human interest stories.
Even though Pleasantly Perfect's upset win in Saturday's $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) puts trainer Neil Howard's retired colt Mineshaft securely in the driver's seat for Horse of the Year honors, the conditioner wasn't accepting congratulations Sunday morning.
By Lenny Shulman -- Remember the good old days when only injuries kept horses from running in the Breeders' Cup?
Mineshaft, the leading handicap horse in the country, was retired Friday due to what trainer Neil Howard said was a small chip in his right front ankle.
With the announcement of Mineshaft's retirement, the questions will persist as to how he would have run in the Breeders' Cup, and where he will be ranked on the list of the top horses of the past decade.
Mineshaft, winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) and Woodward (gr. I), arrived at trainer Neil Howard's barn at Churchill Downs at 8 p.m. Wednesday after his flight was delayed, and walked the shed Thursday morning.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- Mineshaft has little to lose if he contests the Breeders' Cup Classic and doesn't win.
Volponi, who used the Meadowlands Cup (gr. III) as a springboard to victory in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), breezed a half mile in :49 2/5 at Belmont for Friday night's running of the 1 1/8-mile event.
With the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) in a state of confusion, this is as good a time as any to predict how this year's Classic picture will unfold.
Despite Mineshaft's status as the top handicap horse in the country, the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita on Oct. 25 will by no means be a definite start for the four-time grade I winner and leading Horse of the Year candidate.
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel thinks the connections for Mineshaft could hurt their Horse of the Year aspirations by skipping the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) Oct. 25 at Santa Anita.
With the greatest of ease, Mineshaft won his third consecutive grade I race since July and made his case for 2003 Horse of the Year by trouncing an overmatched field in Saturday's $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park.
William Farish's Mineshaft, considered the top handicap horse in North America with three grade I scores this year, will be challenged by Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) winner Moon Ballad in the 85th running of the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Saturday at Belmont Park.
With Empire Maker withdrawn from Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I), several trainers who had no plans to run are now reconsidering and will see how the field shapes up before deciding whether to enter on Thursday.
Laura de Seroux, trainer of Azeri, said Tuesday that in the wake of the defections of Candy Ride and Perfect Drift, she will keep her options open regarding the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
Move over Vindication. There's a new leader among the stallions entering stud in 2004. Mineshaft, the leader on the NTRA poll, will begin his stallion career in 2004 for $100,000, twice that of Vindication, last year's champion juvenile male.
- By Steve Haskin
With all signs pointing to Candy Ride being put away for the year, and with Perfect Drift all but certain to bypass the Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I), America's richest race likely has lost two of its biggest stars, and there is some uncertainty regarding Mineshaft.
Mineshaft, impressive winner of the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) in his last start, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 Monday morning in preparation for Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
Although no decision has been made regarding Candy Ride's status in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), trainer Ron McAnally said after meeting with co-owner Sid Craig that they may decide to put the horse away until next year.
Mineshaft, who tops the NTRA poll, will enter stud in 2004 at William S. Farish's Lane's End Farm near Versailles, Ky.
Godolphin's Moon Ballad, who scored a brilliant victory in the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) earlier in the year, is heading to Belmont Park for the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) on Sept. 27.
Immediately after Mineshaft's incredible victory in Saturday's Woodward Stakes (gr. I), the talk began about the impending showdown with California sensation Candy Ride in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
Mineshaft, clearly the class of the field, shook off a stubborn Hold That Tiger in the stretch to draw away to an easy 4 1/4-length triumph in the $500,000 Woodward at Belmont Park Saturday.
With Saratoga still fresh in everyone's mind, Belmont's first big "Fall Preview" weekend is already here. On paper, Mineshaft looks virtually unbeatable in the $500,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I), but pay very close attention to Northern Rock, who should be rolling along on an uncontested lead.
William Farish's Mineshaft will be the marquee attraction on Saturday's Belmont Park card that will feature three grade I events. The 4-year-old colt will go for his third straight grade I win against four rivals in the $500,000 Woodward Stakes over 1 1/8 miles.
Will Farish's Mineshaft moved one step closer to next Saturday's $500,000 Woodward (gr. I) at Belmont Park with a six-furlong work that went in an impressive 1:11 2/5 over the Saratoga Race Course main track Thursday morning for trainer Neil Howard.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has set the fields for this weekend's Period 2 of the Breeders' Cup Future Bet. Mineshaft, impressive winner of the Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park in July, has been listed as the morning line favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic at 5-1 odds.
Neil Howard, trainer of top older horse Mineshaft, watched the Travers (gr. I) with interest. He is likely to meet up with Ten Most Wanted later in the fall at the Breeders' Cup.
Saratoga Notebook: Harlan's Holiday Update; Fur OK, but Frankel Unhappy; Volponi Battled; Mineshaft Breezes; Bailey Hurting
According to trainer Todd Pletcher, Harlan's Holiday is likely to retired after damaging a suspensory ligament during the running of the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II).
The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation raised more than $500,000 at its annual gala, held Monday. Aug. 4, at the Saratoga Golf & Polo Club. The bulk of the money, a record amount for the event, was raised through separate live auctions, one for season options to breed to select stallions, the other for "unique experiences."
Saratoga Notebook: Howard Watch; Stakes Trifecta Rule Changes; Lady Tak's Breather; Sights Lowered for Wonder Again; Pletcher On Fire
Mineshaft's trainer Neil Howard will be paying close attention Saturday when the Whitney Handicap (gr.I) is run at Saratoga Race Course.
Mineshaft showed he is still a force to be reckoned with in the handicap ranks with an impressive victory over Volponi and Dollar Bill in the $500,000 Suburban Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park on Saturday.
Trainer Neil Howard hopes that he will be able to dub Saturday as "Brothers Day" as he sends the regally bred Rock Slide out in search of his first graded stakes victory in the $250,000-added Firecracker Breeders' Cup (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs.
Belmont Park will celebrate the Fourth of July holiday weekend by offering six graded stakes worth more than $1.35 million. The weekend action gets underway with Friday's running of the Prioress Stakes (gr. I) and also includes the Suburban Handicap (gr. I).
Mineshaft turned in brilliant six-furlong workout for trainer Neil Howard Sunday at Churchill Downs.
William S. Farish, Temple Webber, Jr. and James Elkins' Mineshaft turned in an easy four furlong breeze on Monday at Churchill Downs, his first work since his narrow loss to Perfect Drift in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) on June 14.
Farish, Elkins & Webber's Rock Slide edged favored Miesque's Approval in a head bobbing finish by a nose in Sunday's $160,650 Sea o'Erin Breeders' Cup Mile at Arlington Park before a Father's Day crowd of 26,101.
Turns out Perfect Drift was carrying just a tad more than his assigned 115 pounds at Churchill Downs June 14 in the $856,500 Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I). Tucked under the saddlecloth beneath Pat Day was a six-inch braid of hair made from John Henry's tail.
Mineshaft's attempt at a fourth straight graded stakes win will begin from post 12 in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs.
Grade I winners Aldebaran and Mineshaft expected to headline Saturday's contest at Churchill Downs, while Pat Day now has the mount on Perfect Drift.
Expected Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) favorite Mineshaft turned in a spectacular work Tuesday, breezing five furlongs in :59.60 over a fast Churchill Downs track. The move under exercise rider Annie Finney came just after the regular break for track maintenance and was the fastest of 31 at that distance.
Robert Baker, David Cornstein and William Mack's Proud Citizen, the runner-up to War Emblem in the 2002 Kentucky Derby, breezed five furlongs Monday in a quick :59.20 in his final prep for Saturday's Stephen Foster Handicap.
William S. Farish's homebred Mineshaft, winner of the Pimlico Special (gr. I), and Flaxman Holdings' Aldebaran, winner of the Churchill Downs Handicap (gr. II) and Metropolitan Handicap (gr. I) in his last two races, top the list of likely starters from a star-studded group of 32 horses nominated for Churchill Downs' $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I).
Mineshaft, the likely favorite for the $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) on June 14, worked a strong six furlongs over a wet track Tuesday at Churchill Downs. The homebred son of A.P. Indy covered the distance over "sloppy" footing in 1:14 under exercise rider Annie Finney.
William S. Farish's Mineshaft, an impressive winner of the Pimlico Special (gr. I) in his most recent start, breezed four furlongs at Churchill Downs on Tuesday as trainer Neil Howard prepares the colt for a run in the $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) on June 14.
Trainer Neil Howard has been affectionately dubbed "Nervous Neil" by his friends and colleagues at Churchill Downs, but he was cool and confident as he accepted congratulations Sunday morning on his return to his home track.
Neil Howard may saddle a longshot Saturday in the Preakness (gr. I), but he sent out a favorite to win the $600,000 Pimlico Special (gr. I) Friday. Mineshaft and Robby Albarado won the Pimlico Special over Western Pride and longshot Judge's Case.
Mineshaft, a winner of five of six starts since moving stateside, is the 121 topweight and 8-5 morning-line favorite for Friday's Pimlico Special (gr. I).
William S. Farish's Mineshaft, winner of the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) at the Fair Grounds and the Ben Ali (gr. III) at Keeneland, tuned up for a run in Friday's $600,000 Pimlico Special (gr. I) with a sharp six-furlong breeze on Sunday at Churchill Downs.
William S. Farish's Midway Road is scheduled for a Monday breeze at Churchill Downs that could help trainer Neil Howard to decide whether the colt will be a definite starter in the Preakness (gr. I) May 17.
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