Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Mine That Bird breezed Aug. 25 at Saratoga for the first time since undergoing minor throat surgery last week and the next 24 hours should determine whether he will run in $1 million Shadwell Travers (gr. I).
“Doc (Dr. James Hunt) is happy with the way he looked today,” said trainer Chip Woolley of Mine That Bird, who had an entrapped epiglottis repaired Aug. 18 at the Ruffian Equine Medical Center. “He’ll look at it again (Aug. 26), and we’ll make a final decision in the morning.
“If we irritated his throat today … and it looks bad, we won’t run him,” Woolley added. “If he’s not irritated in the morning, you have to feel like he’s doing OK. It’s just that simple. We’re not going to take chances with him. If we see something in there we don’t like, we’re not going to run.”
With Jamie Theriot aboard and owners Dr. Leonard Blach and Mark Allen looking on, the gelded son of 2004 Travers winner Birdstone worked over the main track after the renovation break. Clockers caught him going a half-mile in :49.76, while Woolley had him going five furlongs in 1:01 4/5, galloping out in 1:14 4/5.
“His work was pretty nice, we couldn’t ask for much more right now,” said Woolley. “He looked really strong and the numbers show he’s striding right on out past the wire. That part of it I have no problem with; we just don’t want to do anything with him that might be detrimental down the road, long-term. He’s got to come first.
“He’s galloped strong, but this is the first time we put the hammer down on him and let him stress. We have to make sure he’s 100 percent. He’s too important to us and too important to the racing community right now.”
Woolley said a contingency plan had not yet been drafted for Mine That Bird if he skips the 1 1/4-mile Travers, but ruled out a start in the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) at Philadelphia Park on Sept. 7. On that day, Mine That Bird is scheduled to lead the post parade for the $2 million All America Futurity at Ruidoso Downs in his home base in New Mexico.
Seven others are pointing to the Travers, including Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Summer Bird; Quality Road , the record-setting winner of the Amsterdam (gr. II); Jim Dandy (gr. II) winner Kensei; Charitable Man, Our Edge, Warrior's Reward , and Hold Me Back.
Hold Me Back, trained by Bill Mott, also had his final tune-up for the Travers Aug. 25, covering five furlongs in 1:00.45.