04/28/2012 1:01PM

Churchill Downs notes: Moquett may enter two in the Kentucky Oaks


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Ron Moquett pulled one of the biggest upsets in Churchill Downs history when he sent out Seek Gold to win the Grade  1 Stephen Foster Handicap in 2006 at 91-1. Amie’s Dini won’t be such a monster price when Moquett saddles her Friday for the 138th Kentucky Oaks at Churchill, but Moquett would like to shock a few people nonetheless.

“The Stephen Foster with Seek Gold, that was fun,” said Moquett, who said Saturday he also is “seriously considering” entering Livi Makenzie in what figures to be an oversubscribed field for the $1  million Oaks. “I’d love to do something like that again, sure.”

Moquett, a 41-year-old Arkansas native, said he believes Amie’s Dini belongs “in the 10-1 to 12-1 range” among the 14 betting interests in the Oaks. Indeed, as consistent as she has been, Amie’s Dini will get a share of respect among the 100,000-plus fans expected on hand. Owned by Mike Walker, Amie’s Dini has 3 wins and 3 seconds from 7 lifetime starts and really came to hand at the recent Oaklawn Park meet when never worse than second in four straight stakes attempts, ending with her runner-up finish to the speedy Mamma Kimbo in the April  11 Fantasy Stakes.

Meanwhile, Livi Makenzie became a consideration for the Oaks with the defection earlier in the week of Mamma Kimbo. “When that speed came out of there, I thought maybe we should go,” said Moquett. Livi Makenzie, a distant third in the recent Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland, figures on or near the lead at big odds, and “that’s okay with me,” said Moquett.

Entries will be drawn Tuesday for the Oaks, and besides the full-gate maximum of 14 3-year-old fillies, a few also-eligibles also are likely. Grace Hall, who was scheduled to work Sunday at the Palm Meadows training center before being flown here Tuesday, is a likely lukewarm favorite over other major contenders such as On Fire Baby, Believe You Can, Karlovy Vary, Summer Applause, and Hard Not to Like.

Nate’s Mineshaft stuns clockers

On a Saturday morning when the ordinarily quiet Churchill Downs Trackside training center was buzzing with media to watch Hansen breeze before the Kentucky Derby, another top-class horse, Nate’s Mineshaft, did his best to grab some of the spotlight.

In his third breeze since winning the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds April 1, Nate’s Mineshaft blitzed four furlongs in 45.40 seconds – the fastest half-mile breeze longtime Trackside clocker Richard McCreery said he recalls ever seeing there.

“He worked good; he did it all in hand,” said trainer Austin Smith. “I had him track another horse, about five, six, seven off ‘em, and I just told the rider, my wife Ann, to come with him to the quarter pole and finish up good. It was a little quick, but he’s a fast horse.”

Nate’s Mineshaft is that, having run 1 1/8 miles in the New Orleans Handicap in 1:47.64, earning a career-best 113 Beyer Speed Figure. He also typically rolls in the mornings, too; Saturday’s breeze being his six straight bullet work.

A former $25,000 claimer, he has won four straight races since being transferred to Smith five starts ago. He is scheduled to run in the Grade  2, $300,000 Alysheba Stakes on the Kentucky Oaks undercard May 4, Smith said.

– additional reporting by Byron King