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.
The son of A.P. Indy skipped over a "muddy" track under exercise rider Annie Finney in 1:13.60. The 1 3/16-mile race will mark the the colt's debut in Grade I stakes company.
"He went good," said trainer Neil Howard. "He went :23 flat the last quarter, which was beautiful. He did it nice and galloped out in (a minute) 27-and-two or three (fifths). He went well."
Mineshaft started his career for trainer John Gosden in England, but Gosden thought he would be more effective on dirt and advised Farish to take him to the United States. He launched his U.S. career with an allowance win last fall at Churchill Downs and has won five of six races since he arrived in Howard's barn.
"The horse was a baked cake when I got him," said Howard. "He was ready to go and it's been fabulous. You always hope it goes that well, but he just acts like a good horse. They act different."
Howard said a good effort in the Pimlico Special would probably lead to a start by Mineshaft in the $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I) on June 14 at Churchill Downs. Strong efforts in both races would validate Howard's opinion that the 4-year-old ranks among the top older horses in the United States.
"He obviously has to prove it," said Howard, "but I think he's done enough so far that he definitely deserves the chance."
Mineshaft has a overall career record of 6-2-1 in 13 races with earnings of $512,044.