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LEADING “HORSE OF THE YEAR” CANDIDATE MINESHAFT RETIRED
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Oct. 3, 2003) -- William S. Farish, James Elkins & W. Temple Webber, Jr.’s Mineshaft, winner of the Jockey Club Gold Cup (Grade I) at Belmont Park in his most recent start and a leading candidate for “Horse of the Year” honors, has been retired from racing.
Trainer Neil Howard announced the 4-year-old colt’s retirement on Friday, Oct. 3 at Churchill Downs. Howard said the development of three unrelated physical ailments led the colt’s veterinarian, Dr. Foster Northrop, to recommend that Mineshaft be retired from racing and Farish, the United States’ Ambassador to England, and his partners accepted that recommendation. The decision means that Mineshaft will not be able to participate in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on Oct. 25, a race that Howard and the colt’s owners had hoped would be his final start before he retired to stud at Farish’s Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Ky.
Howard said the first ailment was a small, non-displaced fracture of Mineshaft’s right front ankle that was discovered in a routine X-ray examination following the colt’s victory in the Suburban Handicap (GI) at Belmont Park on July 5. The colt has been X-rayed before and after each of his races since his arrival in the United States last fall.
“Dr. Northrop took a very close look at the chip after the Suburban and it was his opinion that the injury was very manageable, would not hinder the horse’s performance or be a danger to him,” Howard said. “It was just one of those things that you want to monitor very closely.”
Howard said a thorough X-ray exam of Mineshaft following a victory in the Woodward (GI) at Belmont on Sept. 6 showed there had been no change in the condition of the ankle. Mineshaft then scored an easy victory in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (GI) at Belmont Park on Sept. 27 and was shipped to Churchill Downs on Wednesday, Oct. 1. Northrop conducted another X-ray examination in Louisville on Thursday, Oct. 2 and Howard said the results of that exam showed a change in the original injury and revealed two more developing concerns.
“The examination after the Jockey Club Gold Cup showed that the chip in his right front ankle was now displaced and was free floating,” Howard said. “The examination also revealed a new non-displaced chip in his left front ankle and another problem was discovered in the third carpal bone in his right knee. Dr. Northrop then recommended that Mineshaft be retired.”
“When you combine the three injuries, they pose a real risk to the health of the horse if Mineshaft were to continue to race,” Northrop said. “Mr. Farish is an owner who is putting his horse’s well-being over his desire to win a classic race and he and his partners are doing the right thing for Mineshaft at this time. I also believe he is protecting the racing public by deciding against running a horse whose physical ailments could easily result in a diminished performance on the track.”
“This is disappointing because we very much wanted to run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” said Farish by telephone from London. “After receiving Dr. Northrop’s recommendation concerning his physical condition, we had no alternative but to retire him.”
A homebred son of 1992 “Horse of the Year” A.P. Indy out of Prospector’s Delite, Mineshaft completed his racing career with a record of 10-3-1 in 18 races and earned $2,283,402. He started his career in England under the care of trainer John Gosden, where he compiled a record of 1-1-1 in seven races on the grass. He returned to the United States last fall and enjoyed immediate success on the dirt for Howard. He won a pair of allowance races at Churchill Downs and the Fair Grounds in November and December and opened his 4-year-old campaign in New Orleans in January with a victory in the Diplomat Way Handicap. He went on to win seven of nine races in 2003 and his list of victories also included the Pimlico Special (GI), the New Orleans Handicap (GII) and Keeneland’s Ben Ali (GIII). He closed his career with consecutive wins in the Suburban, Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup and earned $2,209,686 during his final racing campaign.
“It’s been wonderful to be around a horse like Mineshaft and we’re all disappointed that he won’t be able to run in the Breeders’ Cup Classic,” Howard said. “It’s a great thing to be around a horse that’s this good. I’ve learned so much from just being around him that I think my skills as a trainer are better for having worked with him. You get to see a horse like this only once in a great while, if ever.”
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