MINESHAFT HANDICAP | PURSE: $125,000 | 4-YEAR-OLDS & UP | GRADE 3 | 1 1/16 MILES
NEW ORLEANS -- Nates Mineshaft, the longest shot in a race named for his sire, pulled off a front-running, upset victory in the Grade 3, $125,000 Mineshaft Handicap for older horses on Saturday at Fair Grounds, a race marred a serious injury suffered by Thiskyhasnolimit, who broke down going to the half-mile pole.
Nates Mineshaft ($29.60) took the lead leaving the gate under jockey Jesse Campbell and was not pressured by his five rivals, whose riders apparently thought he was overmatched. He got away with fractions of 25.30 seconds for the opening quarter-mile, 49.35 seconds for a half-mile, and 1:13.59 for six furlongs before a fourth quarter in 23.12 seconds en route to a final time of 1:43.01 for 1 1/16 miles on the fast main track.
Fast Alex came on for second, beaten by 2 3/4 lengths, with Alma d'Oro another 1 1/2 lengths back in third.
Thiskyhasnolimit, who won the Louisiana Handicap, a prep for the Mineshaft, last month, suffered an apparent injury to his right front cannon bone, according to the state veterinarian, Dr. Nancy Bonhoff. Roy Wood, one of the stewards at Fair Grounds, said Thiskyhasnolimit had a fracture and was vanned back to the barn of his trainer, Steve Asmussen.
Only six went to the post following the scratches of Cool Blue Red Hot, Gladding, and Pants On Fire. Nates Mineshaft was the least accomplished in the field, and was risked for claiming prices of $25,000 and $40,000 in his prior two starts, but he took advantage of the pace over a track he dearly loves. He is now 4 for 4 at Fair Grounds.
"If you saw his last race, you knew it was worth the chance," said Austin Smith, who trains Nates Mineshaft for the Reiman family's Windy Hill Farm.
Nates Mineshaft, 5, has now won five times in 12 starts, but this was his first stakes win. The Mineshaft is a prep for the New Orleans Handicap, whose favorite likely will be Nehro based on his powerful allowance victory earlier on Saturday's card.