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. Mineshaft opened the first quarter in :25 1/5 before taking the half in :47 3/5. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25 and a mile in 1:41 2/5."He looked really good out there," Howard said. "I wanted to go a nice, three quarters of a mile. But I did not want to ask for his life. It was just a follow up to his other works."Mineshaft has not raced since winning the Suburban Handicap (gr. I) during the Fourth of July weekend when he defeated Breeders' Cup Classic champion Volponi by 2 ½ lengths. The 4-year-old son of A.P. Indy has won five of seven starts this year with two seconds. Plans call for him to resume his campaign in the handicap division with the Woodward. After winning the Woodward, Howard was considering running Mineshaft in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga in the beginning of August, which was won by Medaglia d'Oro. Now, Howard is glad he decided to give Mineshaft some time off for the fall campaign."We had to give him a race off, especially when we had not missed any race for him this year," Howard said. "He cannot run in every race. I don't want him to come up flat for a race where he will run second or third, or get tired out. That's why he needed the break. It is like a busman's holiday before the real running begins."Mineshaft is scheduled to head back to Belmont Friday and could be given a "light breeze" either next Tuesday or Wednesday before running in the Woodward.
He is the 5-1 early favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) for this weekend's National Thoroughbred Racing Association's Breeders' Cup Future Bet pool two, which begins Friday.