With no logical dirt race to choose from, trainer D. Wayne Lukas has decided on the $175,000 Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT), a one-mile turf contest July 4 at Churchill Downs, as the starting point for Mine That Bird—or at least he is seriously thinking about it.
The 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner, Mine That Bird would make his first career start on turf in his 4-year-old debut. A full field of 14 was drawn for the closing day feature.
Lukas, who took over training duties from Chip Woolley in May, tried to start Mine That Bird back in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on the Churchill dirt for July 3, but it did not fill. Instead, he entered him in the two-turn Firecracker. Lukas said he would like to get the Birdstone gelding a race this weekend since he is targeting the Aug. 7 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga as his major summer goal, but he could also train him up to that event. Lukas will confer with owners Leonard Blach and Mark Allen before making a final decision this weekend.
Mine That Bird has had six sharp workouts at Churchill since coming under the care of Lukas. He is seeking his first win since taking the Derby by 6 3/4 lengths on May 2, 2009. Since then, the bay finished runner-up in the Preakness (gr. I), third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and West Virginia Derby (gr. III), sixth in the Goodwood (gr. I), and ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I).
Calvin Borel, aboard for the Derby win, would have the mount on Mine That Bird, who was assigned top weight of 122 pounds and post 2.
With a record of 5-2-2 from 14 starts, Mine That Bird has earned $2,196,581. He was bred in Kentucky by Lamantia, Blackburn, and Needham/Betz Thoroughbreds and is out of the Smart Strike mare Mining My Own.
Michael Cooper and Pamela Ziebarth’s Tizdejavu is a six-time winner on turf and unbeaten in two starts this season. The 5-year-old son of Tiznow won a one-mile optional claimer on the Arlington grass in May and scored in the 1 1/16-mile Opening Verse Stakes at Churchill June 11.
Trained by Greg Fox, Tizdejavu won the American Derby (gr. IIT) at Arlington and Jefferson Cup (gr. IIT) at Churchill in 2008, and was fifth in last year’s Firecracker. Jesus Castanon will ride.
James Scatuorchio’s Attempted Humor has never been off the board in five turf starts. The 5-year-old Distorted Humor colt has a pair of allowance wins on that surface, but will be making his first start since October, 2009, when runner-up at Keeneland. Corey Lanerie will be in the irons for Todd Pletcher.
Inca King has won five in a row and six out of seven since being claimed for $32,000 by Ken and Sarah Ramsey in November 2009. Runner-up in last year’s Firecracker, Inca King is unbeaten in five starts in 2010, the most recent win coming May 30 in an optional claimer at Churchill. Victor Lebron rides for Mike Maker.
Heiligbrodt Racing’s Skipadate has won two of four starts this season—both in allowance company at one mile on turf. Most recently, the 4-year-old son of Skip Away scored on June 17 at Churchill. Skipadate raced in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Santa Anita, finishing 11th. Alex Solis will be aboard for Dale Romans.
Churchill will conclude its 42-day spring meet with an 11-race card July 4. Admission is free and $1 hot dogs and beer will be offered.
$175,000 Firecracker Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 10, 5:26 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 Mile (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer 1. Driving Snow (GB), F Lenclud, 115, D Miller
2. Mine That Bird (KY), C H Borel, 122, D W Lukas
3. Attempted Humor (KY), C J Lanerie, 117, T A Pletcher
4. Tizdejavu (KY), J L Castanon, 119, G Fox
5. Unbridle's Dream (KY), S Bridgmohan, 115, S M Asmussen
6. Tybalt (KY), C S Nakatani, 116, M Stidham
7. Public Speaker (KY), R Albarado, 117, K G McPeek
8. Veiled Prophet (KY), L R Goncalves, 114, G R Arnold, II
9. Inca King (KY), V Lebron, 117, M J Maker
10. Pop Tarrt (KY), S Gonzalez Jr., 114, J Deegan
11. Euroears (KY), J Theriot, 115, W B Calhoun
12. Skipadate (FL), A O Solis, 114, D L Romans
13. Wise River (KY), F C Torres, 118, C Hanna
14. Orthodox (KY), J K Court, 114, J Glenney
15. Baryshnikov (KY), R A Stokes III, 113, K B Hancock