Rags to riches stories often capture the hearts of racing fans, leading them to frequently cheer for Thoroughbreds with Cinderella stories. Many famous racehorses have ascended from claiming ranks and onto the national racing scene, such as the Hall of Famers Stymie and John Henry, as well as the multiple grade one-winning Californian champion Lava Man. During the most recent Fair Grounds meet in New Orleans, Louisiana, a five-year-old bay emerged from the claiming ranks to astonish many in graded stakes company, and in impressive fashion.
Photo by Mary Cage
It took many by surprise when Nates Mineshaft captured the Mineshaft Handicap (GIII) – named after his sire – in February of 2012. As the longest shot on the board at nearly 14-1, few expected him to win. It was plausible to believe he would lose. The bay ridgling took four tries to break his maiden, had never finished better than fourth in a stakes race, and in his past two starts, both of which were victories, he had raced for a claiming tag. Against the odds, Nates Mineshaft led from start to finish to win the grade three stakes by 2 ¾ lengths.
Believing that Nates Mineshaft’s victory in the Mineshaft was a fluke, bettors sent him off at odds of 9-1 next out in the New Orleans Handicap (GII) at the same track. Yet again, however, it was understandable that handicappers allowed his odds to inflate. He was facing a much tougher field; five of the seven horses he was up against were graded stakes winners. Yet Nates Mineshaft emphatically proved his doubters wrong, leading from start to finish again, but this time triumphing by an imposing 7 ¼ lengths while setting a new track record for nine furlongs in 1:47.64.
Following his breathtaking graded stakes victories at the Fair Grounds, Windy Hill Farm and trainer Austin Smith sent the ridgling to the historic Churchill Downs for the Alysheba Stakes (GII) on Kentucky Oaks Day. But his success was not meant to continue that day; Nates Mineshaft finished sixth of eight. Breaking from the inside post, the son of Mineshaft made contact with eventual winner Successful Dan coming out of the gate. Rather than going to the lead like usual, Nates Mineshaft was rated off the pace and remained uncomfortable throughout the race. Gradually, the son of Mineshaft drifted back.
Nates Mineshaft redeemed himself on Memorial Day, however, when he contested in the Lone Star Park Handicap (GIII). In a race that featured the grade one winners Awesome Gem, Flat Out, and Game on Dude last year, Nates Mineshaft faced a field of seven other horses that included the graded stakes winners Apart and Marilyn’s Guy.
The race was over as soon as the horses broke from the gate. Much pace was expected to be in the race, but when Nates Mineshaft broke very sharply whereas the horse that was viewed as his stiffest competition – Marilyn’s Guy – broke slowly, the son of Mineshaft scored an easy lead under Campbell. I knew he had the race won when he completed the initial quarter-mile in an easy 25.11 seconds.
Effortlessly, the five-year-old ridgling galloped down the backstretch without much pressure at all. Despite attempted rallies from Get in Da House, Night Party, and Marilyn’s Guy, Nates Mineshaft readily opened up on the field, drawing away under confident handling from Campbell en route to an impressive 7 ¼-length victory.
|Jesse Campbell blowing kisses aboard Nates Mineshaft while winning|
the Lone Star Park Handicap
Photo by Terri Cage
Nates Mineshaft’s journey is certainly a rags to riches story in every way. He only cost $8,000 as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale prior to briefly ending up in the claiming ranks, but yet he has emerged as a leading handicap horse, which was further proven when he ruled the Lone Star ‘Cap. He was clearly an auspicious purchase for father and son Pete Reiman and Peter Scott Reiman of Windy Hill Farm and has since brought them along on the ride of a lifetime. One can’t help but cheer for the magnificent horse and his team.
|Nates Mineshaft and his connections in the winner's circle after the|
Lone Star Park Handicap
Photo by Mary Cage
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