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Mathea Kelley

Mine That Bird Works For Lukas

Last year's Derby winner worked shortly before a sinkhole was discovered at Churchill

Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s 2009 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Mine That Bird worked three furlongs in :35.20 May 26 at Churchill Downs with Dominic Terry aboard in his first work for new trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Mine That Bird rolled through fractions of :12, :23.40 and galloped out a half-mile in :49.60. It was the first work of the year for the gelding by Birdstone , who has not run since finishing ninth in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita.
Mine That Bird arrived at Churchill Downs last week after spending the winter at Mark Allen’s Double Eagle Ranch in Roswell, N.M. The 4-year-old jogged May 21 and had galloped the next four mornings prior to the work.
“The good ones do it easy,” said Lukas, who took over conditioning duties from Chip Woolley. “I just wanted him to get a little more interested today. Dominic did not know if he changed leads because he moves so fluidly.”
Mine That Bird resumed morning gallops in mid-March at the ranch.
“He had a good foundation from galloping 60 days on a dry, deep racetrack and at altitude,” Lukas said. “He is a lot more fit than some people would think. We have been asking him to do a little more each morning and what he did this morning was nothing more than what he had been doing. He didn’t take a deep breath coming back. I couldn’t be happier with him.”
Shortly after Mine That Bird’s breeze, training at Churchill Downs was interrupted for nearly two hours following the discovery of a hole that suddenly formed on the backstretch of the main track near the far turn. 
The track was closed immediately when the hole was discovered shortly after 6:30 a.m. EDT. The hole was located on the outer third of the track near the half-mile pole and the entry into the far turn. Track superintendant Butch Lehr said the hole measured eight to 10 inches across and was about two feet deep.
The hole was filled with the sandy loam material that makes up the base of the one-mile oval and topped with the dirt that covers the entire racing surface. Training resumed at 8:45 a.m. and the session was extended about 15 minutes past its regular 10 a.m. close to allow as many horses as possible to make up for lost time. 
No horses stepped in the hole during the short time between its rapid formation and the closing of the track.
Lehr, a 43-year veteran in the post of track superintendant at the home of the Kentucky Derby, is confident the repairs made by his track maintenance team have taken care of the issue. But he does not know at this point what led to the sudden formation of the hole.
“I’ve never seen anything like this during all my time here,” said Lehr. “We repaired it and we’re going to watch it. It was about two feet deep, but we put everything back and tamped it real good. You couldn't even tell where it had been when we got finished.
“We’re going to watch it real close. I did some grading on it today and I believe we took care of the problem. But we want to take a close look at the track when (University of Maine racetrack safety specialist) Mick Peterson gets here with his sonar.” 
In other news, leading rider Calvin Borel, sidelined since May 16 with an eye infection, may return to the races May 27.
“He is out of the hospital,” agent Jerry Hissam said. “He is at home and he has a little tube for drainage. If the tube comes out today, he will probably ride tomorrow. If not, then Friday. It is just wait and see.”
Borel, who never has won a spring meet riding title, holds a 22-15 lead over Shaun Bridgmohan after the first 18 days of the 42-day meet. Borel is named on five mounts May 27.