Chip Woolley, trainer of Mine That Bird

Chip Woolley, trainer of Mine That Bird

Anne M. Eberhardt

Woolley Will Wait For Jackson's Decision

Wants Borel to ride if possible.

Whatever the reasons for Jess Jackson delaying his decision on Rachel Alexandra’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I) status, Chip Woolley, trainer of Mine That Bird, is prepared to wait him out and will not name a rider for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner until Jackson announces his decision.


“If we have to, we’ll wait right up to or close to entry time,” Woolley said. “I’m gonna give Calvin (Borel) as much time as possible to ride “Mine” and also to keep him from losing two mounts. It just wouldn’t be fair to him if they don’t make a decision until the last minute and decide not to go. He won me the Kentucky Derby and I owe him the opportunity if it’s possible. I don’t want to see him sitting on the sidelines when I get to Belmont.”


As for Rachel Alexandra running in the Belmont, something most everyone believes is not going to happen, Woolley said it doesn’t matter to him one way or another except for how if affects his rider situation.


“It’s irrelevant really to me whether she runs or not. As much as anything I’d like to have Calvin, so I guess if she doesn’t go it betters my opportunity to get Calvin. I believe it would be good for racing if she runs. It sure brought out a lot of people to watch her last time, and now that she’s beaten my horse and I was closing to her it would build it up more. But we’ll just have to see what happens.”


Woolley admits one of the big changes he’s undergone through the Triple Crown journey is learning how to deal with the media and all the attention, something he was a bit uncomfortable with after the Derby.


“It’s been a lot of fun,” Woolley said. “Of course, the media attention is something we’re not quite used to, but we’re getting more used to it by the day. I guess the one thing it’s done is probably validate a career. I spent 25 years to get to this point, and it’s been a lot of hard work. I went broke a couple of times, so it’s probably more of a validation stamp more than anything. At first it was hard to enjoy, but now it’s kind of loosened up. We’re enjoying it and just living for the moment and taking it all in, and we’ll ride this out through the Belmont. I haven’t had lot of time to reflect on everything. It probably will hit me when I get back home.”


Woolley said Mine That Bird looks as good as he’s ever looked, and assures he will go into the Belmont a strong horse


“He’s dead fit, and he’s galloped strong every day,” Woolley said. “It may be harder to put in that big kick on a deeper racetrack like Belmont, but we’ll see what happens. There should be enough pace, but if it is slow it’ll naturally move us closer, and he’ll still be able to run his race. We’re not going to change his running style. If you change his style he’s not going to finish. Fortunately, he only runs about three-eighths of a mile, so these races haven’t been quite as hard on him as it has the other horses.”


Woolley decided to ship Mine That Bird back to Kentucky after the Preakness (gr. I) instead of going straight to New York because of the horse’s familiarity with Churchill Downs.


“He really trained well at Churchill and very comfortable,” Woolley said. “When we got him to Pimlico, he got a little rattled on me and we had a lot of trouble getting him to settle. As soon as he got back to Churchill he settled right back into his program, which I feel is important. Also, going into Belmont with the deeper racetrack and giving him two breezes, I didn’t want to breeze him over that track and say he didn’t handle it, and end up having him not quite right by the time he got to the race. I knew he’d train well at Churchill and getting a flight out of here would be easy, so we just made the decision to come back here.”


Woolley said Mine That Bird will breeze at Churchill Downs on June 1, walk June 2, and gallop June 3 before catching a noon flight to New York.


Listen to Chip Woolley on's Talkin' Horses Podcast