Updated on 09/17/2011 11:54AM

A one-sided Suburban

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Horsephotos
Mineshaft (far right) and Volponi (center) were close entering the stretch. But when Robby Albarado gave the signal, Mineshaft quickly drew off.

ELMONT, N.Y. - There was five-sixteenths of a mile left in the 117th running of the at Belmont Park and Mineshaft had cruised to the lead. But, just to his outside, poised to pounce, was Volponi, winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Classic.

What looked like a match race in the making instead turned into a mismatch. Turning for home, jockey Robby Albarado shook the reins at Mineshaft and the 4-year-old A.P. Indy colt took off and cruised to a 2 1/4-length victory before an announced crowd of 18,326 on wall-clock giveaway day at steamy Belmont.

For the third time this spring, Volponi was second best, four lengths in front of Dollar Bill. Puzzlement, Evening Attire, Nothing Flat, Hero's Tribute, and Judge's Case completed the order of finish. Harlan's Holiday was scratched and will run in next Sunday's Hollywood Gold Cup.

The victory was the fifth from seven starts this year for Mineshaft, who was coming off a heartbreaking head loss to Perfect Drift in the Stephen Foster Handicap. While it was the toughest field Mineshaft faced, he handled them with surprising ease.

"Take nothing away form the rest of them, but he just toyed with those horses," said Albarado, who had taken some grief for moving Mineshaft prematurely in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster. "Volponi came to him and he took off a bit within himself and put his ears up the last three sixteenths of a mile."

Mineshaft, who broke from the rail, raced second while stalking longshot Judge's Case, who set pedestrian fractions of 24.43 seconds, 48.67, and 1:12.68 for the opening three-quarters of a mile. Midway around the second turn, Mineshaft took the lead before easily turning back Volponi. Mineshaft, owned by a group led by Will Farish, covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.57 over a fast track and returned $3.50 as the favorite.

"I'm not one to say he did it easy, he's this or he's that," trainer Neil Howard said, "but he ran a fantastic race. This horse never backs up; he always digs in. Right there, at the five-sixteenths pole, it was just a question whether he was going to go on or Volponi was going to get by him."

Phil Johnson, trainer of Volponi, called Mineshaft "probably the best handicap horse in the country."

Howard said Mineshaft would be nominated to the Grade 1, $750,000 Whitney Handicap to be run Aug. 2 at Saratoga. But, he is more likely to skip that race and point to the Grade 1, $500,000 Woodward at Belmont Sept. 6.