06/09/2003 11:00PM

Mineshaft looking razor-sharp for Foster

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Neil Howard climbed out of his car Tuesday morning, having just returned from watching Mineshaft go through his final workout for the Stephen Foster Handicap with Annie Finney aboard.

Howard gave Finney a stern look and said, "I've never seen him work like that. That's the best I've ever seen him work."

Over a fast track, Mineshaft covered five furlongs in 59.60 seconds, with his final quarter-mile coming in 22.80 seconds. Mineshaft, a 4-year-old colt, figures as the favorite Saturday in the Grade 1, $750,000 Foster.

Howard later called the final quarter "phenomenal," adding that "these kinds of horses work like that. It's hard to keep a horse on edge when they're running in these big races, but this horse has really seemed to thrive in his training."

Mineshaft, who most recently posted a sharp victory in the Grade 1 Pimlico Special, is owned by a partnership headed by Will Farish, former chairman of Churchill Downs. The colt is one of at least 10 horses expected for the 1 1/8-mile Foster, one of four stakes scheduled for Saturday.

With weights and known jockey assignments, these are the probable starters for the 22nd running of the Foster: Mineshaft, 123 pounds, Robby Albarado; Aldebaran, 120, Jerry Bailey; Perfect Drift, 115, Pat Day; Proud Citizen, 115, Cornelio Velasquez; Full Mandate, 113, Lonnie Meche; Crafty Shaw, 112, Calvin Borel; Consistency, 112, Mark Guidry; Slider, 112, Carlos Marquez Jr.; Unbridled Vision, 110, Larry Melancon; and Woodmoon, 110, no rider.

The Foster, along with the Brooklyn Handicap from Belmont Park and the Leonard Richards from Delaware Park, will be televised live on CBS Sports on a one-hour show that will begin at 5 p.m. Eastern. The Foster, with a scheduled 5:44 post, will be the last of the three.

The Brooklyn, Foster, and Richards make up the first National Thoroughbred Racing Association Summer Pick Three of this year.

You coming for Fleur de Lis

Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel has decided to send You instead of Sightseek from New York for the richest race on the Foster undercard, the $300,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap.

Frankel said You's experience in longer races was the deciding factor in sending her to the Fleur de Lis, a Grade 2 race at 1 1/8 miles. Sightseek notched her first Grade 1 victory in the seven-furlong Humana Distaff on the May 3 Kentucky Derby undercard.

You, a five-time Grade 1 winner, will carry 119 pounds, making her the co-highweight in the race, assuming Take Charge Lady also runs. Trainer Ken McPeek said he wants to run Take Charge Lady but that he may have to wait for the June 21 Ogden Phipps at Belmont because of concern about a foot bruise Take Charge Lady suffered about six weeks ago.

Another four or five fillies or mares also are likely for the Fleur de Lis, including Printemps, the lone California shipper in the day's four stakes.

Besides Aldebaran and You, Frankel also is sending Personal Legend for the $200,000 Regret Stakes. Bailey will ride all three.

The Regret, a Grade 3 for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf, could have the largest field of the four Saturday stakes. The Churchill turf course limit is 12 starters.

Bailey also will ride Clock Stopper, the probable second or third choice, in the $100,000 Northern Dancer, a one-mile race for 3-year-olds.

Clock Stopper, trained by Dallas Stewart for Overbrook Farm, is 2 for 2 at Churchill, albeit in slightly shorter races. "He's got the right kind of running style, right off the pace," said Stewart.

Champali and During are the other top horses ready for the Northern Dancer.

Day to ride Perfect Drift

Kent Desormeaux rode Perfect Drift in his last two starts, but with Desormeaux now riding in Japan, trainer Murray Johnson on Tuesday confirmed Pat Day as the rider on the 4-year-old gelding.

"I've never ridden Pat before," said Johnson. "I'm excited about it. I've always wanted to put him on a good one in one of these big races."

Day was the winning rider in the Foster five years ago when Awesome Again upset the heavily favored Silver Charm. He also won the 1985 Foster on Vanlandingham.

* After being examined on Tuesday by Dr. Ray Shea, jockey Dean Butler was diagnosed with a deep bruise, and not a separated shoulder, and could be getting on horses in about two weeks, said his agent, Mike "Clarence" McGary.

Butler was injured in a training accident here on Monday morning.

* A $58,900 turf sprint for fillies and mares is one of two allowance races on the 10-race Thursday card at Churchill, when first post is scheduled for 1:15 p.m.