Everyone in horse racing knows Chip Woolley has been plenty busy lately. His horse won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), ran second in the Preakness (gr. I) and third in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Back home in New Mexico, the Woolley training barn has stayed right on track. With Chip on the road, his brother Bill Woolley has been minding the store at Sunray Park outside of Farmington.
“There's been no problems," Bill Woolley said. "I just have to make a few more decisions than I did when Chip was around all the time.”
“Oh, the entry deals, getting horses into the right races, keeping track of all that stuff. Lots of stuff.”
The brothers haven't seen each other since Chip Woolley loaded Mine That Bird
into a trailer at Sunland Park, N.M., and began the 19-hour drive to Louisville, where the gelding won the Derby as a 50-1 long shot on May 2.
They speak by telephone regularly, working together to oversee the 25-horse Woolley barn. Chip Woolley said it has been a challenge to follow the New Mexico action from afar but feels he hasn't missed too much.
“It's been a little hard to keep up, but trainers do it all over the world every day,” he said. “It's not that big of a deal.”
During Mine That Bird's run through the Triple Crown, Bill Woolley saddled eight horses in New Mexico, including two winners.
“We've run pretty decent,” Bill Woolley said. “Won one the day after the Derby.”
That was a Quarter Horse, Louisianafeature One, who broke his maiden. Then it was De My Maurine on June 4 in a $13,000 claiming race. On June 14, New Mexico-bred Fancy Catillac was third in an $11,000 claiming race.
Asked about his day-to-day responsibilities, Bill Woolley said he sticks with a workout schedule drafted by his brother.
“Chip has a basic program. We follow it,” he said. “Of course, things happen and you have to change it, but we've tried to stay on the same schedule.”
Chip Woolley, who lives in Bloomfield, N.M., plans to be back in the state soon. He said it's likely he will saddle a few horses, either during the current meet at Ruidoso Downs or when The Downs at Albuquerque resumes racing Aug. 8.
He will return with a considerable measure of fame, thanks to Mine That Bird.
“This horse has been a win-win for our state,” Chip Woolley said. “It's been great to be able to help racing in New Mexico.”