A few minutes after 9 a.m. EDT on May 12, Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s Mine That Bird rolled out of the Churchill Downs barn area headed for Baltimore and the second leg of racing’s Triple Crown.
With trainer Bennie “Chip” Woolley behind the wheel of the Ford F-450 Lariat and exercise rider Charlie Figueroa riding shotgun, the Kentucky Derby-winning team left Barn 42 with Mine That Bird comfortably ensconced in the trailer behind the truck.
“I think he is ready,” Woolley said. “If we make the trip up there good and he eats good, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Woolley arrived pulling the trailer at 6 a.m. and began the process of loading everything for the 10-hour trip to Pimlico. Mine That Bird, who had worked a half-mile in :49.20 the day before, walked the shedrow for 20 minutes and grazed behind the barn for another 15 minutes before returning to his stall to load on the trailer.
“I have about 115 gallons and hauling the trailer I get about 8 1/2 miles a gallon,” Woolley said. “This will be like our first day coming here when we went from El Paso on Lone Star Park. We won’t need to stop for gas. When we stop to eat, I’ll open the top of the window and let him look out and take things in. He’s a good shipper. Nothing bothers him.”
Before Mine That Bird walked into the trailer, Bob Baffert, astride his stable pony Leo, rode up from Barn 33 where his Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile is housed.
“I just want to see how this is done,” Baffert said with a laugh.
The two trainers shook hands, wished each other luck and then it was time to go.
In other Preakness (gr. I) news, trainer Al Stall Jr. said Jeremy Rose would have the mount on Adele Dilschneider’s Terrain.
“He has won the race (on Afleet Alex in 2005) and he knows the track there,” Stall said of Rose.
Julien Leparoux had ridden Terrain in his first two starts of 2009, but has the call on General Quarters in the Preakness. Terrain, with exercise rider Jimmy Valdez up, jogged in the mile chute alongside a pony for about five minutes and then galloped once around the main track before the renovation break.
Stall said Terrain is scheduled to be on a 1:30 p.m. flight to Baltimore.
Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexandra was on the track at 6:20 a.m., going once around with exercise rider Dominic Terry up. Rachel Alexandra had worked a half-mile in :48.40 on May 10.
Pioneerof the Nile walked the shedrow a day after working a half-mile in :47.60. Baffert said Pioneerof the Nile would go to the track the morning of May 13 and then leave for Baltimore on a 1:30 p.m. flight.
Getting a jump on the migration east to Baltimore was owner/trainer Tom McCarthy’s General Quarters as well as five horses trained by D. Wayne Lukas, including Preakness hopefuls Flying Private and Luv Gov. All were gone before the track opened for training at 6 a.m.