(Edited press release)
After two days off and a 9 1/2-hour van ride from Baltimore, Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Mine That Bird returned to the track at Churchill Downs for a light jog Tuesday, May 19.
The Birdstone gelding, who is owned by Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine, had regular exercise rider Charlie Figueroa in the saddle as he headed to the track around 7:15 a.m. (EDT). It was Mine That Bird’s first trip to the track since his runner-up finish to Rachel Alexandra in the May 16 BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I).
Trainer Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr. said Mine That Bird jogged one mile the wrong way over a “fast” surface.
"He went good, he looked good,” Woolley said. “He was bucking and playing a little, so we’re in good shape I think."
Woolley said Mine That Bird would on gallop May 20 as the Kentucky Derby winner continues his preparation for the $1 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 6. There is no set schedule for Mine That Bird’s next work.
The trainer’s phone continues to ring with offers from agents of jockeys who hope to pick up the mount on Mine That Bird for the Belmont. Mike Smith, who rode Mine That Bird in the Preakness, will not ride the gelding in the Belmont because of a previous commitment in California. Calvin Borel, who was aboard for his 50-1 upset in the Derby, is committed to ride Rachel Alexandra, but her status for the Belmont has not been decided by majority owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen.
Woolley said he would discuss the issue with Mine That Bird’s owners and they hope to have a decision in “a couple of days.”
His runner-up finish in the Preakness improved Mine That Bird’s career record to 5-2-0 in 10 races and lifted his earnings to $2,011,581.
Meanwhile, Rachel Alexandra walked under Asmussen’s shedrow on her second day back at Churchill following her historic win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown. Rachel Alexandra is scheduled to return to training on Wednesday. Asmussen said the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro would go to the track with his second set of horses around 6:15 a.m.
Her Preakness victory marked the sixth consecutive win for Rachel Alexandra, who has a record of 8-2-0 in 11 races with earnings of $1,618,354.