Mine That Bird most recently finished 4th in the Sunland Derby.

Mine That Bird most recently finished 4th in the Sunland Derby.

Michael Burns

The Birds Are Coming to Kentucky

Derby fever continues to run rampant as usual as two more horses, Summer Bird and Mine That Bird, both sons of Birdstone , are heading to Churchill Downs for the Run for the Roses.


Summer Bird is coming off a powerful third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (gr. II) in only his third career start, while Mine That Bird is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Sunland Derby.


Summer Bird, who made his career debut at Oaklawn on March 1 and broke his maiden on March 19, turned in an explosive stretch run from 15 lengths back in the Arkansas Derby to finish third, beaten only 1 1/4 lengths by Papa Clem at odds of 26-1.


“After a few of those horses came out and we started moving up in earnings from 24th to 21st, we started talking about it,” said trainer Tim Ice, a former assistant to Cole Norman. “The way he came out of the Arkansas Derby, it gave us a little bit of hope. We definitely think we have a real nice horse, but the seasoning part he’ll have to make up for with his talent. I believe the colt has the ability to run with some of them, and hopefully, we can get lucky and hit the board.


“This colt has shown me nothing but athleticism and professionalism since the day I got him. I’m not surprised he ran as well as he did in the Arkansas Derby. Actually, a buddy of mine was standing next to me watching the race and he got a little worried, and I told him he’s running just fine. I like a horse who lays eight or 10 lengths off the pace as long as they try, and he has the heart of a lion. He wants to run and tries to catch any horse in front of him. He does the same thing when he’s galloping. He doesn’t want anything in front of him, and he does it all on his own.”


Summer Bird is currently stabled at Louisiana Downs, and Ice said he will ship to Kentucky on April 22 and have one work over the track.


Bennie Woolley, trainer of Mine That Bird, said the colt will work at Sunland Park Sunday and ship to Louisville on Tuesday. He is scheduled to work at Churchill Downs the Monday before the Derby.


“We finally came to the decision (Thursday),” Woolley said. “We just weighed our options and felt this was our one shot at the Derby and decided to run. In the Sunland Derby, he made move too early and came up a little empty. He’s healthy and doing real good, so we’ll take a shot.”


Mine That Bird has $138,705 in graded earnings and currently ranks No. 18 on the list, while Summer Bird, with $100,000, is No. 21.