Multiple graded stakes winner Nates Mineshaft highlights the lineup for this year's $150,000 Hanshin Cup (gr. III) at Arlington Park May 25, making his first appearance for owner Windy Hill Farm in more than 11 months.
The front-running 6-year-old ridgling by 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft has not raced since finishing third in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) June 16 while drifting out twice on the lead at Churchill Downs.
Nates Mineshaft had been entered in the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) last October but was scratched by trainer Austin Smith in what was described then as a dispute between the trainer and owners Peter and Peter Scott Reiman over whether he was fit enough for the 1 1/4-mile race. He runs Saturday with Anne Smith training.
"We have been waiting a long time to run him. He was never injured, he just had time off, and he's fit and happy right now," Smith from her Arlington barn. "The timing of the race is perfect. We want to see if, at age 6, he still wants to be competitive. We'll know more about where he is after the race."
The Hanshin, in its 19th year as an exchange race between Arlington and the Japan Racing Association, is one of three graded stakes on the Arlington program Saturday. The ninth race with a 5:08 p.m. CDT scheduled post, the one-mile Polytrack test attracted a field of 10.
Nates Mineshaft clicked off consecutive stakes win last year in the Mineshaft (gr. III) and New Orleans (gr. II) handicaps at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, then later captured the Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III) by 7 1/4 lengths prior to the Foster. In that race, he was defeated by three-quarters of a length by Ron the Greek and eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan.
Bred in Kentucky by Cobra Farm out of the Silver Deputy mare Angel's Tearlet, Nates Mineshaft was an $8,000 purchase from the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky fall yearling sale in 2008. He has earned $635,214, with a 7-1-2 record from 16 starts.
Making his initial start at Arlington and just his second try on a synthetic track, he'll be ridden by E.T. Baird from post 6.
"He's training like we're doing the right thing by entering," said Smith, who believes Nates Mineshaft should handle the Polytrack. "He doesn't seem to train super fast, but he definitely is fast in his race. He's had some easy works and I like how relaxed he is."
Lothenbach Stables’ Mister Marti Gras, a career earner of $811,754, ran second in the Washington Park Handicap (gr. III) last fall in his most recent appearance at Arlington. The 6-year-old Belong to Me gelding, trained by Chris Block, concluded last season with two wins at Hawthorne Race Course.
In his lone start this year, Mister Marti Gras was second in an allowance try on the Keeneland grass April 14. He will be reunited with regular rider Eduardo Perez.
Also in the field are stakes winners Seruni, Hammers Terror, Night Party, Patrioticandproud, and Hogy.
$150,000 Hanshin Cup Stakes (gr. III, Race 9, 5:08 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile (All Weather)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Seruni (KY), M E Smith, 116, P J Oliver
2. All Stormy (KY), K J Desormeaux, 116, G Geier
3. Scatman (KY), J Rocco Jr., 116, W I Mott
4. Hattaash (KY), F Geroux, 116, C L Bettis
5. Hammers Terror (KY), J Graham, 116, M Stidham
6. Nates Mineshaft (KY), E T Baird, 116, A P Smith
7. Night Party (KY), S J Sellers, 116, P Huffman
8. Patrioticandproud (PA), G K Gomez, 116, M E Casse
9. Mister Marti Gras (KY), E E Perez, 116, C M Block
10. Hogy (KY), C A Emigh, 116, S Becker