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Nates Mineshaft Completes Arlington Million Preparations

Nates Mineshaft 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Windy Hill Farm’s Nates Mineshaft put in his final work for next Saturday’s Grade I Arlington Million Sunday morning by going a solid three furlongs in :36.60 along the inner rail of the firm turf.  With jockey E. T. Baird aboard, the son of Mineshaft went his final eighth in :12 flat and galloped out in :49.80.

Trainer Anne P. Smith was on horseback watching the work from the outer rail.  “E. T. and I spoke beforehand and really wanted to get a sharp three-eighths, with a two-minute lick and make sure he galloped out well.  I really wanted to make sure E. T. felt confident in what he had underneath of him going into such a big race,” the conditioner said.  “He came back in pretty good shape.”

In her first year as a head trainer, Smith will be trying to get the confirmed frontrunner to stretch a quarter mile farther than he has ever competed on the grass.  “He’s holding up to what I have asked him to so far.  I have been trying to condition him be ready for the company and the distance.  I feel that he is prepared to the (optimal) level he can be,” she reported. 

“I’m definitely respecting the company who is coming,” mentioned Smith.  “I really feel like (trainer Richard) Mandella’s horse and Little Mike have to be respected.”  Richard Mandella is planning to run GusMay-Fer’s Argentinian champion Indy Point in the Million, while Priscilla Vaccarezza’s defending Million champion Little Mike is also on course for Saturday’s event.

Between now and next weekend, Smith will do her best to prepare Nates Mineshaft for the toughest test of his career and the biggest event of hers.  “Whatever we feel like he needs to feel fresh from now until the race, we will do.  He will do some light work and also get a few massages.”

The other impressive work of Sunday morning was Team Block’s Ioya Bigtime, who worked five furlongs on the turf in advance of his return date in the American St. Leger.  With new jockey Francisco Torres up, the son of Dynaformer worked in a solid 1:00 flat, with a gallop out in 1:12.60 for six furlongs. 

Runner-up last year in the inaugural St. Leger, the notoriously wayward worker was very relaxed under Torres, who will ride the 6-year-old for the first time on Saturday.  The work also caught the attention of Arlington clocker Bobby Belpedio.  “Ioya Bigtime was really impressive today.  He looked really good over the turf and galloped out nice,” he reported. 

Two other St. Leger pre-entrants, Team Block’s Suntracer and Gary and Mary West’s Code of Conduct, put in their final serious moves, as well.  Also trained by Chris Block, Suntracer went five furlongs in 1:01 flat with Eddie Castro, who has the call in the St. Leger.  The Wayne Catalano-trained Code of Conduct worked along with stablemate sophomore filly Dance Team (who is being aimed toward the $75,000 Hatoof Stakes on the Million Day undercard) and both were timed in 1:02 flat for the same distance.



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