05/29/2012 2:12PM

Lone Star Park notes: Nates Mineshaft proving to be the real deal

Reed Palmer Photography
Nates Mineshaft, with Jesse Campbell riding, wins the Lone Star Park Handicap.

Nates Mineshaft turned heads in April when he won the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap with a Beyer Speed Figure of 113. He backed the number up on Monday, when he was assigned a 107 for his 7 1/4-length win in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap.

“I thought he ran really well,” said Austin Smith, who trains Nates Mineshaft for Windy Hill Farm. “I was very happy, and he ran a good number. I’m tickled to death for the win, happy for the horse and happy for the owners.”

Nates Mineshaft left Lone Star early Tuesday morning, headed for Churchill Downs, where Smith will watch him train before the horse’s next start is determined. The Lone Star was Nates Mineshaft’s third graded stakes win in his last four starts. His stakes streak started in February, when he won the Grade 3 Mineshaft at Fair Grounds by 2 3/4 lengths, earning a Beyer Figure of 98.

Nates Mineshaft advanced to the New Orleans Handicap, and after winning off by 7 1/4 lengths earned what up to Monday’s Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile ranked as the year’s best dirt Beyer. Nates Mineshaft was then a well-beaten sixth in the Grade 2 Alysheba at Churchill Downs before recapturing his best form in the Lone Star.

He dictated the pace in the 1 1/16-mile race Monday, then won in hand under regular rider Jesse Campbell.

“He cooled out well, was a little playful,” Smith said Tuesday. “He left early this morning and is headed back to Churchill.

“I’ll give him at least a couple of days off and take him out, and see where we are with him [before making plans].”

Nates Mineshaft is a 5-year-old ridgling by Mineshaft and a half-brother to nine-time stakes winner Mr. Trieste. He was the 121-pound highweight in the Lone Star, which was the richest race of the meet. Lone Star drew a crowd of 10,673, while more than $1.3 million was bet on the 10-race card from all sources Monday.

There is no program Thursday night at Lone Star because of the holiday card Monday. The track resumes racing Friday night.