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.
"This morning Dr. Foster Northrop, Mineshaft's vet, his owner, Mr. William Farish, and I had a discussion and made the decision to retire Mineshaft due to a minor problem in his ankle that we have been managing," said Howard. "A small, nondisplaced chip was found after the Suburban, and we monitored the situation closely.
"After the Jockey Club Gold Cup last week his post-race x-rays revealed the chip had broken off and was displaced, or floating. Dr. Northrop also discovered deterioration in the third carpal bone in a knee and a small nondisplaced chip in the left front ankle. We had no alternative but to retire the horse at this point, although he was exhibiting no discomfort."
"We thought it was in the best interest of the horse at this point," Northrop added. "All three injuries were minor but could put the horse at risk."
Mineshaft is owned by his breeders, Farish, James Elkins, and Temple Webber Jr., who had announced several weeks ago that Mineshaft would be retired to stand at stud for the 2004 season at Farish's Lane's End Farm near Midway, Ky. It was assumed he would run in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge before being retired, however. Farish is a founding member of the Breeders' Cup and served many years as chairman of its executive committee. The connections began hedging on running Mineshaft before his Jockey Club Gold Cup victory, and before the discovery of the chip becoming displaced. Mineshaft was said by his connections to have come out of the Jockey Club Gold Cup in fine condition, and was on the track jogging 1 3/8 miles two days later.
Mineshaft retires with earnings of $2,283,402 and won 10 of his 18 lifetime starts. He began his racing career in Europe, where it was found that the son of A.P. Indy did not act well on the turf. Returned to the U.S. late in 2002, he won both his starts here last year, and ran up seven victories in nine trips to post this season. In addition to the Jockey Club Gold Cup, he won grade I contests in the Pimlico Special, Suburban Handicap, and Woodward Stakes. He also took the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II) and the Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III).
Mineshaft is out of the Mr. Prospector mare Prospectors Delite, and is slated to stand for a stud fee of $100,000.