• Nates Mineshaft off the Shelf for the Hanshin
• Peitz Prepares Live Longshots for Weekend Graded Stakes


Windy Hill Farm’s Nates Mineshaft, one of the premier American handicap horses last year, returns to the track this weekend in the Grade III Hanshin Cup over one mile on the Arlington International Racecourse Polytrack.

Absent since last June’s Grade I Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs, the ridgling son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft makes his first start on a synthetic course since his lone try in December of 2011 at Turfway Park.

“We have been waiting a long time to run him. He was never injured, he just had time off, and he’s fit and happy right now,” explained trainer Anne Smith from her Arlington barn. “The timing of the race is perfect. We want to see if, at age six, he still wants to be competitive. We’ll know more about where he is after the race.”

A relatively lightly raced 6-year-old with only 16 starts, Nates Mineshaft earned the majority of his $635,214 with a breakout season in 2012 that saw him claim four of six starts and three graded two-turn dirt stakes by open lengths. He also ran a tremendously respectable third to Santa Anita Handicap winner Ron the Greek and eventual Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Foster to become Grade I-placed. Since then, he was entered in last fall’s Hawthorne Gold Cup, but was withdrawn and given additional rest until now.

“He’s training like we’re doing the right thing by entering. He doesn’t seem to train super fast, but he definitely is fast in his race. He’s had some easy works and I like how relaxed he is,” said Smith. As far as handling the synthetic course, “Right now he’s telling me that he handles this track just fine.”

A good performance in the Hanshin could lead to bigger and better things at Arlington for the Grade I-quality handicapper. “In a perfect world, we’d like to keep him here and see if he takes to the grass. The owners are local and want to see him race here in Illinois at Arlington.”


Trainer Danny Peitz enters with two live entries who may go off as longshots in two of this weekend’s three Grade III races. Yorkshire Icon, an English-bred recent acquisition comes off an impressive allowance win on the Arlington turf May 4.

“We were pleasantly surprised. He settled out the back and ran right by them like a horse who could be useful,” Peitz said of the small bay colt. “We don’t know what’s going to be in (the Arlington Classic), but we are taking a shot here.”

A son of English St. Leger winner Sixties Icon, himself a son of world-renowned sire Galileo and English Oaks winner Love Divine, Yorkshire Icon comes from a European female family flush with endurance influences and intense closing speed. This often also means that he may appreciate a little bit of cut in the ground – which proved true when he won his allowance on yielding ground and his maiden in England over soft going.

“It wouldn’t bother us if we get a little bit rain. He proved the other day that he likes it. And, he seems like he’s come out well and is moving forward – he seems very happy.” Coming from 16 lengths behind a dawdling pace of 1:15.17 for the first six furlongs, Yorkshire Icon, despite being on the petite side, made massive strides down the stretch to easily best this field by a little over a length – making up six lengths in the last quarter and rewarding his backers at a juicy 28-1.

“I’m hoping he runs well enough to keep running in the (Mid-America Triple),” Peitz said of the Jim Ford-owned colt. “He will probably get better as the races get longer.”

Peitz also hopes for more ground and seasoning for his 4-year-old filly Ausus in the Grade III Arlington Matron at nine furlongs on the Polytrack. A daughter of 2006 Horse of the Year Invasor, Ausus is exiting a respectable performance in the Grade I Jenny Wiley at Keeneland April 13.

“She ran behind four Grade I winners. She didn’t disgrace herself. I wish we would have had more pace to run at, but that’s how it goes. We knew we were taking a shot and she’s a good filly,” explained Peitz. The trainer also believes the strongly built chestnut filly will appreciate the conditions of the race.

“She broke her maiden here and likes the Polytrack. She will really appreciate the two turns here too. She seems to run well on everything,” he continued.

“I’m looking to run her in the Modesty after this, and I thought this was a good spot to hopefully get us there,” aspired Peitz. “She has gone from a 2-year-old who didn’t look like much to competitive in a Grade I. I’m glad to keep her in training. She’s an Invasor and I think she will get better.

“I don’t think she’s going to embarrass us. We’re going to see something and find out how much she’s improved. We would definitely like to get to the Beverly D.,” Peitz concluded.

Peitz is also has Najjaar, third in last year’s Arlington Classic, is being aimed toward the Louisville Handicap at Churchill Downs at a mile and a half on turf. Being Arlington-based, it would not be a surprise to see the son of Belmont Stakes winner Jazil turn up in the American St. Leger later this season with a good performance.

After a dull performance on the dirt in Oaklawn’s Grade III Razorback Handicap, the Shadwell homebred came back a sharp second in a Keeneland allowance over the lawn on April 21. Being by a Belmont winner and out of a mare by champion European stayer Darshaan, it would be surprising to see the colt succeed back on the grass in longer distance races.

Peitz also has a few exciting 2-year-olds in his barn, including two Shadwell colts – Lataam and Shathoor. Lataam is a stunning son of Medaglia d’Oro out of multiple Grade I-winning mare Spun Sugar, whom Shadwell purchased at auction for $4.5 million. The latter, a Distorted Humor colt named Shathoor, is a half-brother to champion 2-year-old filly and near-champion 3-year-old filly My Miss Aurelia (by Smart Strike).

Even with Peitz’s patient handling of young horses, it would not be a surprise to see this $850,000 purchase become a precocious prospect for the Grade III Arlington-Washington Futurity in September.