McPeek to Send 'Birdbird' to Florida Derby, Bold Start to Illinois

Kenny McPeek has made a last-minute change and has decided to run Birdbirdistheword in Saturday’s Florida Derby (gr. I), instead of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I), while Bold Start, who has been slated to run at Gulfstream, will now point for the April 7 Illinois Derby (gr. II).

“I just felt the Florida Derby, with all the speed in there, will set up better for Birdbird,” McPeek said. “He relaxes a lot better than Bold Start, who is going to be chasing whoever is up there. Also, Birdbird does not ship as well. Bold Start is more sturdy and never misses an oat.”

McPeek said Manoel Cruz will ride Birdbirdistheword, and Larry Melancon, who rode Bold Start in his first five races, will be back aboard for the Illinois Derby.

Birdbirdistheword, winner of the Delta Jackpot (gr. III) last year, finished fifth in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) in his 3-year-old debut, closing from 13 lengths back to be beaten 7 1/2 lengths by Circular Quay. Bold Start, third in the Miller Lite Cradle Stakes, is coming off a strong second in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II), with the addition of blinkers.

“I felt if Birdbird got beat five lengths in the Louisiana Derby, that would have been about what we figured,” McPeek said. “He wound up getting beat 7 1/2, so it wasn’t that far off, and I believe he’s going to improve a lot off that race.”