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Mineshaft Would Add Luster to Breeders' Cup

September 28, 2003|Bill Christine | Times Staff Writer

The good news for horse racing's year-end star search was that Mineshaft had won again, with conviction. Better news would have been if Mineshaft's owner and trainer had declared that the 4-year-old colt was coming to Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup, but they stopped well short of that.

With Candy Ride, Empire Maker, Funny Cide and Perfect Drift on the sidelines, the Breeders' Cup Classic on Oct. 25 could use the pizazz that Mineshaft would bring. Will Farish, the U.S. ambassador to Britain and co-owner and co-breeder of Mineshaft, is a board member of the Breeders' Cup, but it remains to be seen how much allegiance that will buy.

"I'm not ruling anything out," Farish said Saturday after Mineshaft notched a 4 1/4-length win in the $1-million Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park in New York. "This horse has run once a month for the last 12 months, and that's been a tremendous campaign. The [Gold Cup] had been our primary goal, and now that he's won that, he has nothing more to prove. We'll see in the next couple of days how the horse is doing, then sit down and make a decision."

Without Mineshaft, the main contenders in the Classic would be Ten Most Wanted, Medaglia d'Oro and Congaree. None has the luster of Mineshaft, and Volponi, the upset winner of last year's Classic, is winless this year. Should Mineshaft be retired to Farish's Kentucky farm, where his stud fee would be $100,000 per mare next year, it's possible that the mare Azeri, last year's horse of the year, might jump from the Breeders' Cup Distaff to the Classic.

Mineshaft's latest win at Belmont was his seventh in nine starts this year, and his fourth victory in a Grade I race. That's a horse-of-the-year record, although voters could look for another option -- Azeri, say -- if a horse bypasses the Breeders' Cup.

"I'm just a passenger -- I just hang on and guide him," jockey Robby Albarado said after Mineshaft ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:00 1/5. Trained by Neil Howard, Mineshaft paid $2.80 to win.

The disappointment in the race was Moon Ballad, the Dubai World Cup winner, who was supposed to set the pace. Instead, Moon Ballad trailed Quest while Mineshaft tracked the two of them until he made his move on the far turn.

Moon Ballad was eased by Jerry Bailey through the stretch, and now his plans are uncertain.

"He didn't break," Bailey said. "He was just flat. I got no response."

Quest finished second, followed across the finish line by Evening Attir and State Shinto.

Moon Ballad races for Dubai's Sheik Mohammed, who in the race before the Gold Cup won the $750,000 Turf Classic with Sulamani, who is expected to go on to the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

Sulamani was ridden by Bailey, who won his 21st Grade I of the year, breaking the record set by Mike Smith in 1994. Sulamani, trying to rally at the head of the stretch, clipped the heels of Sabiango, ridden by David Flores, and bobbled badly. But the 4-year-old Irish-bred recovered and won by 2 3/4 lengths.

Entrymates Deeliteful Irving and Balto Star ran second and third.

In other races at Belmont that will affect the Breeders' Cup, the sprinter Ghostzapper, 14 lengths behind and in last place early, beat the 63-1 shot Aggadan by 1 1/2 lengths in the $500,000 Vosburgh, and Dimitrova, the American Oaks winner at Hollywood Park, was a one-length winner for Bailey in the $750,000 Flower Bowl for fillies and mares on grass.

Walzerkoenigin nipped favored Heat Haze for second place. Heat Haze carried 123 pounds, nine more than Dimitrova, who paid $9.40.

Ghostzapper, trained by Bobby Frankel and ridden by Javier Castellano, paid $8.60 and ran 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14 3/5, one-fifth of a second slower than the track record. Posse was third and favored Gygistar was fourth.


Besides Sulamani, another European contender for the Breeders' Cup Turf is Falbrav, who dropped back to a mile to win the $535,000 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in suburban London. The filly Russian Rhythm was second, Tillerman ran third and Dubai Destination was last in an eight-horse field riddled by scratches because of the hard, patchy ground. After the race, Coral, the British bookmaker, made Falbrav the 7-4 favorite for the Turf. The 5-year-old must be supplemented for $180,000 to run at Santa Anita. Julie Krone, riding at Fairplex Park for the first time, rode Excess Summer to victory in the Pomona Derby.... Martin Pedroza, Fairplex's leading rider, returned to the races after being arrested Friday by Temple City police on a battery warrant. Pedroza was released Friday night after posting $26,000 bail.

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