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HORSE RACING

Mineshaft Isn't Resting for the Classic

September 06, 2003|Bill Christine | Times Staff Writer

DEL MAR — Their paths to the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Oct. 25 could not be more diverse. While Mineshaft runs twice in Grade I races at Belmont Park, Candy Ride will not run at all.

There will be two months between Candy Ride's solid win in the Pacific Classic here and his Santa Anita start. None of the 19 previous Breeders' Cup winners have come into the race after such a long layoff.

Mineshaft, considered the best Breeders' Cup Classic contender based in the East, has already had his breather, a two-month respite that ends today when he faces four rivals in the $500,000 Woodward in New York. Mineshaft's final prep, the $1-million Jockey Club Gold Cup, will be run Sept. 27.

"It will be very difficult to win all three of these races," said Neil Howard, who trains Mineshaft. "But this is a unique colt. He's the kind that comes along only once in a great while."

Mineshaft, a son of A.P. Indy, the 1992 Classic winner, began his career unimpressively in England with trainer John Gosden. After Mineshaft won only one of seven starts on grass, Gosden suggested to Will Farish, one of the colt's owners and the U.S. ambassador to Britain, that the horse might do better on dirt over here.

"Mineshaft had been the apple of Mr. Farish's eye since the day he was born on his farm in Kentucky," Howard said.

Now Mineshaft has the glittering record to go with his looks. In nine starts under Howard, since November of last year, the 4-year-old has won seven and finished second twice.

Robby Albarado, who has ridden Mineshaft in all his U.S. races, will be aboard in the Woodward. Mineshaft drew the No. 2 post, just outside Puzzlement. The rest of the lineup comprises Northern Rock, Thompson Rouge and Hold That Tiger.

Two other significant Breeders' Cup preps are on today's Belmont card: the $500,000 Man o' War for grass horses and the $250,000 Gazelle Handicap for 3-year-old fillies on dirt.

The nine-horse Man o' War field includes Whitmore's Conn, winner of the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, and Evening Attire, who will run only if rain forces the stake off the grass.

The high weights in the Gazelle are Island Fashion at 122 pounds and Lady Tak and Spoken Fur, at 121 pounds apiece.

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Gary Stevens, riding for the first time since suffering a collapsed lung and other injuries in the Arlington Million on Aug. 16, finished second Friday night in the El Cajon Stakes at Del Mar aboard Fly to the Wire, who was unable to overtake Excess Summer in the stretch.

Excess Summer, ridden by Julie Krone, paid $4 as the favorite in the one-mile grass race.

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Ryan Fogelsonger's Del Mar debut was delayed until today. Last year's Eclipse Award winning apprentice's only mount on the Friday card was scratched.

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In a $50,000 match race here Sunday, Pat Valenzuela will ride Chester's Choice, and in a blind draw, Krone wound up with Woke Up Dreamin. Valenzuela and Krone are the leading riders with four racing days left in the season.

Wake Up Dreamin is the 2-5 morning-line favorite; Chester's Choice is even money. There will be win betting on the 1 1/16-mile race, which will be the fourth of 10 races on the card.

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Perfect Moon, winner of the Hollywood Juvenile and the Best Pal Stakes and probable favorite for the Del Mar Futurity next Wednesday, has been sold and will be saddled by his new trainer, Doug O'Neill, in the track's closing-day feature.

Perfect Moon, a gelding, has been trained by Mel Stute, who bought him at a Maryland yearling sale last year for $4,700. The day Perfect Moon broke his maiden, at Hollywood Park, he could have been claimed for $40,000, but there were no takers.

Annabelle Stute, Mel Stute's wife, and The Hat Ranch sold Perfect Moon for a price reported to be in the $500,000 range. The new owner is Royce Jaime. Pat Valenzuela will ride Perfect Moon in the Futurity, O'Neill said.

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Azeri's prep for the Breeders' Cup Distaff, which she won last year at Arlington Park, will be the Lady's Secret Handicap at Santa Anita on Sept. 28.

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