A couple of weeks ago this column featured Pyro, a Triple Crown prospect by A.P. Indy’s son Pulpit. This week it is the turn of Cool Coal Man, another likely contender in the spring classics, from the first crop of A.P. Indy’s son Mineshaft .
There has been a degree of market ambivalence regarding Mineshaft in the last few months, and his fee for 2008 is advertised at $75,000, a drop from the $100,000 for which he had stood the previous four years. That, however, reflects the volatility of the market more than any real dichotomy between achievement and reasonable expectation at this stage of Mineshaft’s stud career.
Indeed, Mineshaft himself didn’t make his first start until April 20 of his 3-year-old career. That debut came in a one-mile maiden event on turf, at Newbury in England. A promising fourth there, he returned to take a similar event at Newmarket the following month. Mineshaft ran five more times in Europe without winning, although he did take third in the Prix Daphnis (Fr-III). At this point, his connections wisely decided that Mineshaft might be more comfortable on U.S. dirt, and shipped him home in time for him to end his 3-year-old season with wins in allowance events at Churchill Downs and the Fair Grounds. Mineshaft kicked off his 4-year-old campaign with a nose win in the Diplomat Way Handicap, but was then beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Balto Star in the Whirlaway Handicap (gr. III). From that point, Mineshaft improved rapidly, and after wins in the New Orleans Handicap (gr. II), which he took by 3 1/2 lengths, the Ben Ali Stakes (gr. III), by nine lengths, and the Pimlico Special (gr. I), by 3 3/4 lengths, he was widely regarded as having a lock on the division. Looking to confirm that impression in the Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I), Mineshaft took command of the race early, but this time, rather than drawing off, he was caught close home by that tough customer Perfect Drift, going down by a head. If the defeat raised the hopes among the connections of the handicap division contenders, Mineshaft soon crushed them. His next three outings saw him add the Suburban Handicap, Woodward Stakes, and Jockey Club Gold Cup (all gr. I), all by decisive margins. That effort proved to be Mineshaft’s farewell, as citing some minor wear and tear, Mineshaft’s connections elected to retire their charge and skip the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I). Still, Mineshaft’s four grade I victories, achieved by an average margin of 3 3/4 lengths, proved sufficient for the voters to elect him champion older horse and Horse of the Year.
Exactly how good Mineshaft might have been at 3 is somewhat obscured by the fact that he spent most of his time at that age on turf, which was almost certainly not his optimal surface. He improved substantially through the course of his 4-year-old season, so it is going to be hard to fairly judge his first crop until they have had the opportunity to do the same, a fact that should be borne in mind when reviewing his current statistics. Those figures reveal that so far, Mineshaft has been represented by 37 first-crop starters and 10 individual winners. Those winners are headed by Cool Coal Man, who stamped himself as a one of the leading Kentucky Derby (gr. I) hopefuls with a win in the Feb. 24 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II); La Mina, a two-time stakes winner at 2; Highest Class, a good third to Indian Blessing and Proud Spell in the Silverbulletday Stakes (gr. III); the Arlington-Washington Lassie Stakes (gr. III) third, Minewander; and Coal Play, runner-up last year in the What a Pleasure Stakes. At the weekend, another Mineshaft 3-year-old, Casino Drive – a half-brother to Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winners Jazil and Rags to Riches – won by 11 1/2 lengths on his debut at Kyoto, Japan, and is reportedly being pointed to the Belmont. Given that, at this point in his own career, Mineshaft had yet to make a start, this seems a pretty creditable group.
Cool Coal Man was a $200,000 Keeneland September yearling, and was later retained by owner Robert LaPenta as an $850,000 RNA at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Calder 2-year-olds in training sale. The pedigree has improved considerably since then, with Cool Coal Man being preceded as a stakes winner by his half-sister Kathleens Reel, winner of the Prime Rewards Stakes at Delta Downs. Kathleens Reel, who cost just $5,000 as a yearling, is by the Mr. Prospector-line Lemon Drop Kid and out of a half-sister to A.P. Indy (so having a reversed pedigree cross to Mineshaft).
Coral Sea, the dam of Cool Coal Man and Kathleens Reel, was a useful performer, winning a maiden special weight at Gulfstream Park and allowance events at Churchill Downs (twice) and Saratoga. By champion sprinter, Rubiano, Coral Sea is a half-sister to Signal Tap (by Rubiano’s sire, Fappiano), a horse who did his best work as a middle-distance turf stayer, winning the Bougainvillea Handicap and Hialeah Turf Cup (both gr. III), and finishing third in the Man o’ War Stakes (gr. I). Coral Sea’s dam, South Sea Dancer, won at 4 and 5, and was twice stakes-placed at Golden Gate. By Northern Dancer out of the Canadian Oaks winner South Ocean, South Sea Dancer was a sister to two far more significant runners in Northernette, champion 2- and 3-year-old filly in Canada, and Storm Bird, champion 2-year-old in England and Ireland. South Sea Dancer’s half-sister Ocean’s Answer (by Northern Answer, a son of Northern Dancer) won the Natalma Stakes, and is granddam of Green Tune, Pas de Reponse, and Warrior Queen, all highweights or champions in Europe. Warrior Queen is dam of the A.P. Indy grade II winner A.P. Warrior, and since both she and Coral Sea are by sons of Fappiano, A.P. Warrior and Cool Coal Man have similar backgrounds.
Cool Coal Man is an A++ rated TrueNicks horse, and he is preceded as a graded stakes winner bred on the A.P. Indy/Rubiano cross by Teammate (by A.P. Indy) and Ecclesiastic (by Pulpit). A.P. Indy has sired six stakes winners out of mares by Fappiano and his sons, including champion 3-year-old Bernardini and grade I winner A.P. Adventure. Of course, Mineshaft is out of a mare by Fappiano’s sire, Mr. Prospector, which means that Cool Coal Man is inbred 3 x 4 to Mr. Prospector. It’s worth noting that both Pulpit and Malibu Moon – who would rate as A.P. Indy’s most successful stallion sons to date – are also out of Mr. Prospector-line mares. Pulpit not only has the previously mentioned Ecclesiastic, but also grade I winner Tapit (out of an Unbridled mare), out of Fappiano-line mares, and Malibu Moon has stakes winners out of mares by Fappiano’s sons Press Card and Pentelicus, so the inbreeding looks a very effective one.