In what can mostly be described as a maintenance move, the Windy Hill Farm-owned son of Mineshaft was ridden by jockey James Graham, who was pinch-hitting for the out-of-town E.T. Baird.
According to Arlington clockers, Nates Mineshaft went the five-eighths with the dogs up in 1:06 4/5, with his last eighth in :12 2/5.
"James was helping E.T. today while he was out of town," said trainer Anne P. Smith. "The owners would like to keep E.T. on him in the race. I got him in 1:06. The plan was to go easy and just ask for a little bit of a finish. I'm still processing (the work). I'm happy, though."
The $1 million Arlington Million (gr. IT) Aug. 17 is on the radar for the Arlington-based ridgling, who won the 2012 Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III), New Orleans Handicap (gr. II), and Mineshaft Handicap (gr. III), all on dirt. The marquee turf event will come only three weeks after his allowance win and will be his fourth start of 2013.
As far as Smith's plan, it's simple—"get him to the race and try to win," the trainer said. The Million has been the focus of the Illinois-based owners since they sent Nates Mineshaft to be trained at Arlington this spring.
Nates Mineshaft will have to compete against a class of grass horses of the likes he's never faced, as well as run a quarter-mile farther than he ever has on the turf.
"We have an extra quarter to work on, that's for sure. We thought about playing the theme song to 'Rocky' out of the barn every day," an optimistic Smith laughed.