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. Mineshaft solidified his standing Saturday with a dominating 4 1/4-length victory in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. He has won three consecutive grade I races convincingly (including the Woodward and Suburban), all at Belmont Park."So far, knock wood, everything looks good," trainer Neil Howard responded when asked how the son of 1992 Horse of the Year A. P. Indy colt came out of the race. "I would have to say at this point-Mr. (William) Farish wants me to be very conservative with this right now. I'm not by any means saying we're not running (in the Breeders' Cup). I always defer to Mr. Farish on this kind of stuff. I don't think anyone's going to be down on Mineshaft if he goes out there and finishes third."The major issue for Mineshaft's connections is that they do not seem completely comfortable shipping to Santa Anita for the Classic."It's not really a sticking point, but it's another degree of difficulty that you worry about," Howard said. "He's a good shipper and he's done everything well, but it's not like packing up your trunk and shipping from here to The Meadowlands. "Going out there is a little different. You're talking about going out there and running against Medaglia d'Oro (who worked six furlongs in 1:15 today at Hollywood Park) and (Travers winner) Ten Most Wanted, horses that are already out there. They're good horses at the top of their game and they have that all-important acclimation problem behind them. You can't give an edge to those kinds of horses. "There's a lot to think about and I don't doubt blame Mr. Farish for his concerns. This is one of the biggest things that has ever happened to a man that has put every ounce of sweat he's had into this business. This is the ultimate reward and he wants to make sure we don't do anything we're going to feel sorry about afterwards. He just wants to cherish every moment of it and do it the right way."Mineshaft is scheduled to fly to Kentucky Wednesday and there could be a decision on his fate in the Breeders' Cup later this week.
"We'll probably take him back to our home base in Louisville and I'm thinking that I'll train him there and then fly out Tuesday or Wednesday the week of the Breeders' Cup if he does run," Howard said. "I don't think Mr. Farish is going to want to drag this thing out too long, but he does want me to get him home and look him over. We'll get him back to the track a couple days and go from there."