(Edited Churchill Downs report)
Trainer Chip Woolley announced July 4 that Mike Smith would ride Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Mine That Bird in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. II) on Aug. 1 and the $1 million Shadwell Travers (gr. I) on Aug. 29.
“Mike Smith has given us a two-race commitment for the West Virginia Derby and the Travers,” Woolley said.
Smith rode Mine That Bird in the to a second-place finish in the BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I) when Calvin Borel honored a commitment to ride winner Rachel Alexandra.
Borel won the Kentucky Derby on Mine That Bird and was in the saddle in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in which Mine That Bird ran third in his most recent start on June 6.
However, Borel could not give a commitment for the West Virginia Derby.
Woolley did not get a commitment for the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) to be run Nov. 7 at Santa Anita.
“Hopefully we won’t be in a switch in the Breeders’ Cup,” Woolley said.
Smith is the regular rider of the undefeated mare Zenyatta, who never has faced males in her 11-for-11 career.
Smith, who was at Churchill Downs on Saturday to ride Thorn Song in the Firecracker Handicap (gr. II), said, “I’m very happy to have the opportunity to get back on him. Hopefully I can make amends for what happened the last time and get him home this time.”
Earlier in the day, it was reported that Julien Leparoux would ride the Derby winner in the West Virginia Derby before his agent realized he had a prior commitment.