Updated on 09/17/2011 11:22AM

Mineshaft win raises hopes


LEXINGTON, Ky. - The sharp ascendency of Mineshaft continued in Friday's $106,991 Bel Ali Stakes at Keeneland, a performance that amounted to little more than a lucrative workout for him.

Ridden by Robby Albarado, Mineshaft stalked pacesetter Metatron to the final turn, took the lead in early stretch, and pulled away for a nine-length win.

American Style finished second, followed by Metatron and X Country. Crafty Shaw, El Gran Papa, Horrible Evening, and Malmaison all were scratched from the race early on Friday.

Mineshaft, the 120-pound highweight, ran the 1 1/8 miles on dirt in 1:48.52. The race was a prep for the Pimlico Special on May 16.

"Obviously, he will run against tougher next time so he had to get something out of this race," Albarado said. "He couldn't have done it any better."

A 4-year-old by A.P. Indy, Mineshaft has won 5 of 6 starts since arriving from England last fall, a sequence that includes victories in the Diplomat Way and $500,000 New Orleans handicaps at Fair Grounds.

The win in the Grade 3 Ben Ali improved his career record to six wins in 13 starts and earnings of $512,004.

"Hopefully, he can show he's a Grade 1 horse," Howard said, looking to the future.

Mineshaft is owned by William Farish, Temple Webber, Jr., and James Elkins. Farish, the United States ambassador to Great Britain, attended the race. To commemorate his 14th stakes win at Keeneland, Farish was awarded a gold pitcher, a local tradition.

Mineshaft began his career in England where he had one win in seven starts. Farish said the switch to dirt was the difference in reviving Mineshaft's career.

"He is not a grass horse," Farish said. "He showed the potential and ability in England, but the soft turf courses weren't for him."

Following Mineshaft's win in the New Orleans Handicap on March 2, the Oaklawn Handicap on April 5, was considered, Howard said. He described the start in the Ben Ali as "paramount" to remain on schedule for the Pimlico Special.

"It took a little self-control not to run in the Oaklawn Handicap," he said.

Mcdynamo wins Royal Chase

Earlier, Mcdynamo, the top novice steeplechaser in the United States last year, made a successful transition to the more difficult open class with a convincing win in the $159,625 Royal Chase.

Making his first start since November, Mcdynamo rallied from sixth in the final half-mile to win the Grade 1 Royal Chase by 7 1/2 lengths over Shamrock Isle. Mcdynamo ($11.20) finished about 2 1/2 miles in 4:44.37.

Praise the Prince, an Eclipse Award finalist in 2001, closed late to finish third, followed by All Gong and Al Skywalker. Three starters did not finish: Turkish Corner was distanced in the stretch, Anofferucantrefuse was pulled up in the final half-mile, and Quel Senor fell.

Track officials reported that Cyril Murphy, who rode Quel Senor, was not injured even though he was taken from the turf course via ambulance.

After the race, All Gong, who won the steeplechase Eclipse Award in 2000, died on the racetrack while returning to be unsaddled, track officials said. Shamrock Isle was reported to be unsound in his left foreleg.

Mcdynamo was at the back of the field for the first two miles, well behind pacesetter Al Skywalker, who had a commanding lead for the first mile. The field drew closer to the leader on the final circuit.

Shamrock Isle took over from Al Skywalker on the final turn, but was quickly challenged when jockey Craig Thornton moved with Mcdynamo. Mcdynamo and Shamrock Isle were in the air together at the second-last fence in early stretch, with Mcdynamo pulling away before reaching the last fence.

Mcdynamo has won 8 of 17 starts and $355,069 for owner Michael Moran.

Trainer Sanna Hendriks said Mcdynamo may not start until the New York Turf Writers' Steeplechase Handicap at Saratoga in August or the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase in New Jersey in October.

"At home, working him, he's as good as any horse I've ever had," she said.

- Keeneland finished its 15-day spring meeting on Friday.

D. Wayne Lukas led trainers with nine wins, while Albarado topped the jockey standings with 17 wins.

The average attendance of 14,137 marked a decline of less than 1 percent over the corresponding meeting in 2002.