03/20/2008 12:00AM

Miner's Claim ready to go in Rushaway


FLORENCE, Ky. - A last-place finish by favored Briarwood Circle wasn't the only disappointment that trainer Mark Casse received three weeks ago regarding the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes at Turfway Park.

Along with Briarwood Circle, Casse had also wanted to run Miner's Claim, but a mild fever at an inopportune time precluded the colt from being entered.

"It was just a little something minor, but it was enough for the colt to miss a few days of training and keep him out of the race," said Casse.

Miner's Claim has fully recovered and now is prepared to put his perfect record on the line Saturday in the $100,000 Rushaway Stakes on the Lane's End undercard at Turfway. Patrick Husbands will be aboard this Mineshaft colt, breaking from post 4 in a field of nine 3-year-olds entered in the 1 1/16-mile Rushaway.

Miner's Claim has won his only two starts, both last fall at Woodbine, rolling from just off the pace. Casse has held out high hopes for the colt, who he said has trained extremely well over the synthetic surface in place at the Ocala Training Center in Florida.

Miner's Claim figures to vie for favoritism with another colt making his stakes debut with a 2-for-2 record: Icabad Crane (post 8), a New York-bred with Edgar Prado named to ride by trainer Graham Motion.

"I just thought this was the logical progression," said Motion. "He's only been beating New York-breds to this point, so this will kind of throw him in there against the open company."

Other contenders in the Rushaway are Holidaze (post 3, Julien Leparoux), winner of a two-back allowance at Aqueduct, and Big Glen (post 7, Rene Douglas), winner of the WEBN Stakes at Turfway in early February.

The rest of the field is Acting Out, Tejanos Eliminator, Targe, Cape of Storms, and My Sea of Fire.

The Rushaway is supposed to meekly blend into the Lane's End background, but that hasn't been the case in some recent runnings. The ungraded race was won in 2004 by Brass Hat, who since has become a $1.7 million earner, and last year by Dominican, who in his next race won the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes over the eventual Kentucky Derby winner, Street Sense.

The Rushaway directly precedes the Lane's End and will be part of a live ESPN broadcast that begins at 6 p.m. Eastern.