05/14/2008 11:00PM

Miner's Claim has an excuse

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The promising Miner's Claim will take center stage Saturday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Marine Stakes. The 1 1/16-mile route for 3-year-olds is a prep for the June 22 Queen's Plate, for which Miner's Claim is ineligible because he was bred in the United States.

Miner's Claim won both of his 2-year-old outings convincingly, and was second in the Rushaway Stakes at Turfway when he came off the sidelines March 22.

Most recently in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, Miner's Claim finished a deceptively good sixth under Patrick Husbands, despite having a shoe problem, according to trainer Mark Casse.

"There was no speed in the race, so our plan was to get a good position," Casse said. "He broke good, but then he stumbled after four strides. Patrick gathered him up, and he stumbled again. He was concerned that he hurt himself. He was last, and nobody wanted to be on the rail, but we were so far out of our game plan that Patrick felt the only chance he had was to duck to the inside.

"He rallied, and turning for home he was only about two lengths off the lead, but then he flattened out, and the [leaders] never quit. When we got back to the barn, we found out that he grabbed his shoe when he stumbled, and pulled it half off. He had bent his shoe, and was running with it half off."

Casse also entered Bonanza, who took the April 25 Wando Stakes here in his first start since finishing ninth in the Grade 3 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds.

"He had trained really well before the Risen Star," Casse said. "He had a tough trip in there."

Giquere and Kesagami are the two Plate nominees in the Grade 3 Marine.

Giquere pressed the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Wando before weakening to second.

"He was a little sharper than I wanted him to be, but it was his first time going two turns," said trainer Mike DePaulo. "Maybe there will be more speed in this race and he can sit off it a little."

DePaulo said the Marine will be Giquere's final Plate prep. "We want to give him some time between his last race and the Plate," he said.

Kesagami, the 2007 Coronation Futurity winner, was never a factor after breaking awkwardly in his season debut in the Queenston Stakes.