by John Mucciolo

In Saturday's Kentucky Derby (G1), two top contenders, Dialed In and Nehro, are sired by Mineshaft. While the name Mineshaft is not necessarily commonplace outside of the Bluegrass region of Central Kentucky, no racing guru should be surprised by the success that the blue-blooded stallion has endured on the Road to the Kentucky Derby this season.

Mineshaft is the combination of two of the most influential stallions in recent North American history, A.P. Indy (sire) and Mr. Prospector (dam sire). Unraced at two, Mineshaft cut his teeth racing on grass in Europe in 2002, registering only one win and a third in a Group 3 event from seven starts. The Will Farish homebred was sent to the United States and after winning his first race on the dirt at Churchill Downs, he would never step on the green again.

While he had no chance at impacting the Triple Crown races due to his late blossoming, Mineshaft did leave quite an impact on the American racing scene -- winning nine of 11 starts on this side of the pond and garnering Horse of the Year honors in 2003 after capturing the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), Woodward (G1), Suburban (G1), Pimlico Special (G1) and three other stakes races. The dark bay colt was a standout physical specimen that often toyed with his competition.

Mineshaft is by A.P. Indy, who was the morning-line favorite for the 1992 Kentucky Derby before being the scratched the morning of the race due to a minor injury. Not all was lost, however, for the massive colt as A.P. Indy won the Belmont Stakes five weeks later. He went on to garner Horse of the Year honors following his victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) later that year.

A son of the legendary Seattle Slew, A.P. Indy has left his mark in the breeding shed, rating as one of the top sires of modern times, and counts Triple Crown race winners Bernardini and Rags to Riches among his "slew" of dynamic offspring.

Seattle Slew is the only Thoroughbred to remain unbeaten while sweeping the American Triple Crown, and his name is recognizable even to the racing novice. One of the all-time greats on the racetrack, the 1977 Horse of the Year was more important at stud, leaving an indelible mark on the Thoroughbred breed that isn't easily summed up in a single story.

Being a third-generation Horse of the Year is indeed an impressive accomplishment for Mineshaft. And while his impact as a stallion got off to a slow start, much like he did on the track, the 12-year-old is approaching his apex in his stud career. Fly Down nearly gave him his first classic winner last year, finishing second in the Belmont Stakes, and 2011 could be the breakthrough year for Mineshaft.

Dialed In recently captured the Florida Derby (G1) for Triple Crown savant Nick Zito and should be the favorite in the Run for the Roses. The most impressive colt wowed at first asking beneath the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs in the fall and hasn't missed a beat since, with his customary close-from-the-clouds style each time out. He was precocious but is still developing, much like his daddy.

Nehro has a similar running style to Dialed In, but he's quite different from the Zito pupil. Conditioned by Eclipse Award-winning trainer Steve Asmussen, who is perennially among the leaders in winners and has campaigned the likes of Curlin and Rachel Alexandra in recent years, the late-blooming Nehro came from virtually nowhere to be second in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and Louisiana Derby (G2) and has created quite a buzz, not only in Louisville, Kentucky, but nationwide among racing pundits and fans. Nehro was so off-the-radar earlier this year, he was more than 15-1 when he won his first race in February!

With Dialed In being the likely favorite and Nehro projecting to be among the top four or five in the betting, Mineshaft has a great opportunity to sire his first Kentucky Derby winner. If so, it's just greatness shining through once again.