Mine that Bird

Mine That Bird Near Return After Sharp Five Furlongs; Rachel Alexandra Has Easy Move, Now Prepares to Move

MINE THAT BIRD ZIPS IN WORKOUT, COULD RACE THIS WEEKEND – Mine That Bird, upset winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), turned in a sharp five-furlong work on Monday at Churchill Downs in preparation for a possible return to racing at the historic track this weekend.

Jockey Calvin Borel was in the saddle as Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s 4-year-old Birdstone gelding zipped over a muddy track for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas in a “bullet”:59.80, the fastest work of 26 at the distance.

Churchill Downs clockers caught Mine That Bird in fractional times of :12.20, :24.20, :36.20 and :47.80 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60.  The track had been listed as sloppy earlier in the morning following overnight rains, but was drying out by the time Mine That Bird stepped on the one-mile oval at around 8:30 a.m. (all times EDT), just after the mid-session break for track maintenance.

“I told Calvin we needed to let him do it with no prompting today, just let him do it on his own,” Lukas said.  “I told him I’d like to see him finish up and if he’d get it in a minute to 1:01, that would be about right.  Once I turned him loose and I rode over by the rail to see how deep it was, I thought ‘If he does that, he’s going to be really going good’.  And then he goes 59-and-four.”

“He’s just blossomed out,” said Borel.  “How good is he?  I don’t know – but we’re going to find out.  I think he’s a good horse.  I don’t care what anybody says – he wasn’t a fluke.”

“I couldn’t be happier,” Lukas said.  “Every step has been right down the line.  I like the way that he’s changing – mentally and physically.  That’s the big thing.  We know he can run if everything’s right.  Physically, he’s so much stronger – he might be 150 pounds heavier than he was last year.  And mentally, he’s really getting good.”

Mine That Bird has not raced since a ninth-place run behind unbeaten Zenyatta in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) over Santa Anita’s synthetic Pro-Ride surface, but Lukas is ready to see the winner of Derby 135 wear one of his signature white bridles for the first time.  The closest opportunities for a return to racing come this weekend at Churchill Downs: a 1 1/16 mile allowance race on the main track at Churchill Downs on Saturday, July 3 and the $175,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at a mile on turf on Sunday, July 4 – the closing day of the 42-day Spring Meet.

“We’d like to start him here,” Lukas said.  “I used that Firecracker as a back-up.  I know he’s never been on the turf.  I really don’t want to ship him.  I have the ($250,000)  Salvatore Mile (GIII on dirt on July 3) at Monmouth, but I’d like to just leave him in his own stall and try him.  If he gets beat, this first one is a means to an end.

“We’ll wait and see how the next two days look.  I have no reason to believe he won’t bounce back from this work.  He does every one of them so easy.  He has amazing efficiency of motion.  I’ve had some pretty good horses that I thought could get over the ground.  I don’t know if any of them got over it lighter than he does.”

Mine That Bird has failed to win in five races since his 50-1 shocker in the Kentucky Derby.  He finished a length behind eventual Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness (GI) and finished third to eventual 2009 3-year-old champion Summer Bird after grabbing a clear lead in the homestretch in the Belmont Stakes (GI).  But he faltered in his final three starts of the year, finishing third in the West Virginia Derby (GII) at Mountaineer Park and sixth in the Goodwood (GI) at Santa Anita before his dull effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

His career record stands at 5-2-2 in 14 races with earnings of $2,196,581.

HORSE OF THE YEAR RACHEL ALEXANDRA CRUISES OVER WET FOOTING, PREPARES TO TRAVEL – Reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra completed a solid body of work during the spring and early summer at Churchill Downs with an easy five-furlong workout over sloppy footing on Monday at Churchill Downs.

Rachel Alexandra covered the distance under jockey and regular work partner Shaun Bridgmohan in 1:03 in her final major training before she travels north on Wednesday to summer at New York’s Saratoga Race Course.

Owned by Jess Jackson’s Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick, Rachel Alexandra worked over the wet track around 6:30 a.m. She covered the distance in fractional times of :12.80, :25.60, :38.40 and :50.60 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:17.

Trainer Steve Asmussen was pleased with the move and the said the sloppy track condition after overnight rains was no reason for concern as Rachel Alexandra stepped onto the one-mile main track for Monday’s training move.

“She handles it really well,” Asmussen said.  “She went good.  We’ve got travel plans this week and want everything to go smoothly.”

Asmussen had originally planned to ship Rachel Alexandra and most of his Churchill Downs division to Saratoga next week, but moved those plans up a week because of the heat wave that has settled over the Ohio Valley in recent weeks.

"It’s time,” said Asmussen.  “I’ll be very happy when she’s settled in there and we can get into our routine up there.”

Rachel Alexandra is coming off a 10 ½-length victory in the $200,000 Fleur de Lis (GII) at Churchill Downs on June 12, her first victory of 2010 following back-to-back upset losses in the New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds and the La Troienne (GII) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks Day, April 30.  Her 12-4-0 record in 17 races includes earnings of $3,216,730.

WORK TAB (Track: SLOPPY before maintenance break, MUDDY after break) – Acoma, defending winner of the Locust Grove (GIII), breezed a half-mile in :49 over sloppy footing. … Macho Again, winner of the 2009 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) breezed four furlongs on a muddy track in :51.60. … Kensei breezed five furlongs in 1:02 on a sloppy track. … Friesan Fire breezed six furlongs in 1:14.80.                                                  

Just Louise Well After Gritty Debutante Victory; Rachel Alexandra, Mine That Bird Set for Monday Works at Churchill Downs

DEBUTANTE WINNER JUST LOUISE FINE AFTER VICTORY – Eldon Farm Equine’s Just Louise was reported to be doing well Sunday morning, the day after her neck victory over Tristanme in the Debutante Stakes (GII)."She is doing good,” said Baldemar Bahena, assistant to trainer Dale Romans.

Romans indicated after the race that Just Louise would be pointed toward stakes action at Saratoga. The first 2-year-old filly stake at Saratoga is the Schuylerville (GIII) on July 23.

Bahena said the Romans horses heading to Saratoga would be leaving Churchill Downs beginning July 15.

Debutante favorite Salty Strike, who was caught in the last jump for second by Tristanme, was also doing well Sunday according to Philip Bauer, assistant to trainer Ken McPeek.

“She’s good this morning and she is tired,” Bauer said. “She ran hard, and to re-break again like she did at the quarter pole, that was pretty good.”

Bauer said the first two trucks shipping McPeek horses to Saratoga would be leave on Thursday with the possibility of Salty Strike being on board one of those trucks.

RACHEL ALEXANDRA, MINE THAT BIRD SET FOR MONDAY WORKS – There will be no racing at Churchill Downs on Monday, but there will still plenty of attention focused on the one-mile main track as 2009 Horse of the Year and Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) are scheduled to work.

Rachel Alexandra, a dominant 10 ½-length winner last out in the $200,000 Fleur de Lis (GII), is scheduled for her final work over her home track before the 4-year-old champion heads to Saratoga on Wednesday.  The Steve Asmussen trainee regularly works in trainer Steve Asmussen’s second set around 6:15-6:30 a.m. (all times EDT).

Mine That Bird continues to prep for his first race since ninth-place finish behind unbeaten Zenyatta in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) on the synthetic Pro-Ride    surface at Oak Tree at Santa Anita, is scheduled to breeze just after the maintenance break at approximately 8:30 a.m. for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.  Jockey Calvin Borel will be in the saddle for Mine That Bird’s move.

Mine That Bird could make his return to competition during the closing weekend of Churchill Downs Spring Meet.  There are two possible races for Mine That Bird: an allowance race 1 1/16-miles on the main track on Saturday, July 3, and the 4-year-old gelding is also nominated to the $175,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at a mile on turf on Sunday, July 4.

WISE RIVER’S FIRECRACKER REQUEST: NO RAIN, PLEASE – Trainer Clark Hanna has one, simple request for the weather gods with regard to next Sunday’s 20th running of the $175,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course: Keep it dry!

Hanna trains Wise River, as solid and consistent a turf performer as there is as long as the course is firm.

“He just doesn’t like yielding turf and you have to hope for the best,” said Hanna, who has been training the 7-year-old Wise River since February 2008. “He is the best horse I have had and the most consistent. I’m a little hard-headed and have run him times I probably shouldn’t have because of yielding turf.”

Under Hanna’s care, Wise River has compiled a record of 12-4-3-1 in two-turn races on firm turf. Overall, the record in such races and conditions is 22-6-6-2 with his largest margin of defeat being only seven lengths in the Grade I Kilroe Mile last year at Santa Anita.

“He shows up every time and is usually 1-2-3,” Hanna said. “I even ran him short (5 ½ furlongs) this winter at New Orleans, which he doesn’t like, because he had no other spot to run and he was third.”
Wise River, a son of Belong to Me, broke his maiden at first asking in a one-mile turf test at Ellis Park. Three races later, Wise River opened his 3-year-old campaign by running second to Barbaro in the Tropical Park Derby (GIII).

At Churchill Downs, Wise River has compiled a record of 11-2-3-2 on the Matt Winn Turf Course and owns the course record for 1 1/16 miles (1:39.83 established April 26, 2009). Wise River’s past two turf starts here have come on yielding courses with typical yielding-course results for him: eighth in this spring’s Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) and sixth in last year’s Firecracker.

Owned by Don Benge, Wise River enters the Firecracker off a victory in the Dallas Turf Cup Handicap at Lone Star Park on May 31.

“He came out of the Texas race fine and I like the space between the races,” Hanna said. “I could have run in the prep for the Firecracker (the Opening Verse on June 11), but this gave us an extra week and a half.”

A week out, everything is looking good for Hanna and Wise River, whose career bankroll is $494,567 with a record of 36-7-10-5.

“The long-term forecast looks decent,” Hanna said. “He likes this track a lot and I’d rather run him here. If he doesn’t run here, I might go to the West Coast for the race the end of next month at Del Mar (the Grade I Eddie Read at 1 1/8 miles on July 24). It stays dry out there.”

ACOMA EXPECTED STARTING HIGH WEIGHT FOR LOCUST GROVE – Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma has been assigned 121 pounds by Churchill Downs Racing Secretary Ben Huffman for Saturday’s 29th running of the Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) at a mile over the Matt Winn Turf Course.

Acoma is expected to be the starting high weight in the race as Hot Cha Cha, assigned 122 pounds, is expected to bypass the Locust Grove for Modesty Handicap (GIII) at Arlington Park on July 17. Hot Cha Cha defeated Acoma by three-quarters of a length in the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) here on June 5 while carrying 120 pounds to 122 for Acoma.

Barbara Hunter’s Keertana, who finished a head in back of Acoma in the Mint Julep while carrying 120 pounds, was assigned 120 for the Locust Grove.

Other probable Locust Grove starters and their weight assignments are Alfred Nuckols Jr.’s Danzon (116), Vegso Racing Stables’ Happiness Is (114) and Magdalena Racing’s My Baby Baby (114).

Considered possible for the race is Hidden Brook’s Quiet Meadow (115).

Entries for the Locust Grove will be taken Wednesday.

BARN TALK – Trainer Bret Calhoun was all smiles Sunday morning after the 4 ½-length victory by Chamberlain Bridge in Saturday’s Arlington Sprint Handicap at 5 ½ furlongs. The race was a “Win and You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (GII) to be held here Nov. 6. “That’s the long-term goal. Now we figure out the best way to get here,” Calhoun said. “There is a race the end of July at Penn National (the $200,000 Pennsylvania Governors Cup Handicap at five furlongs) and then the Turf Monster ($250,000 on Sept. 6 at five furlongs) that he won last year at Philadelphia Park.” Options in October include the Woodford at Keeneland, a race Chamberlain Bridge won in 2008. …  

Another happy trainer Sunday was Dallas Stewart after his Seeking the Title won the Iowa Oaks (GIII) on Saturday night at Prairie Meadows by a half-length. Seeking the Title had been excluded from the Kentucky Oaks (GI) because of insufficient graded stakes earnings and then lost rider Kent Desormeaux in the Black-Eyed Susan (GII) at Pimlico when she tried to avoid a fallen horse. “We finally got a race without somebody falling down,” Stewart said with a chuckle of Seeking the Title, who had run sixth in the Acorn (GI) in her previous start. “She will go to Saratoga and may run in the Coaching Club of American Oaks (GI) on July 24 if it is not too quick. That’s a mile and an eighth and the further the better for her. She needs more ground and almost didn’t have enough last night.” Stewart also said multiple stakes winner Macho Again was on track to return to Saratoga with the Aug. 7 Whitney Handicap (GI) as his objective. …

Trainer Tom Proctor said that debut maiden winner Well Connected will be heading to Saratoga after his 1 ¾-length victory on Saturday after breaking from post position 12 in the five-furlong sprint. “I think I will look for an allowance race for him around seven furlongs because I don’t want to run him short again at this time,” Proctor said. “The mare (Indy Groove) was precocious and she won from five-eighths to a mile and an eighth.” Well Connected is the first starter for Indy Groove, who ran sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (GI) here for Proctor in 2004.

WORK TAB – Northern Dancer (GIII) winner Colizeo worked a half-mile over a fast track in :48.40. … Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) winner General Quarters worked a half-mile in :49. … Dogwood (GIII) runner-up Tap Tap Tapping worked a half-mile in :50.20 and Jefferson Cup (GIII) winner Gleam of Hope worked a half-mile in :52. Eighth-place Kentucky Derby (GI) finisher Stately Victor work five furlongs at the Trackside Training Center in 1:00 over a fast track.

Mine That Bird Moves Closer To Return To Racing With Strong Six Furlong Work

MINE THAT BIRD WORKS SIX FURLONGS IN 1:13 – Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s Mine That Bird continued to work toward his first start of 2010 by breezing six furlongs in company in 1:13 over a fast Churchill Downs track on Tuesday morning.

With jockey Calvin Borel up, Mine That Bird worked after the renovation break in company with the 3-year-old Bird Empire for the second consecutive week. The 2009 Kentucky Derby winner spotted Bird Empire two lengths when breaking off at the three-quarter pole and tracked his workmate to the top of the stretch where he easily dispatched his company on the inside and finished five lengths in front.

Churchill Downs clockers caught Mine That Bird in fractions of :12.80, :25, :37.60, :49.60 and galloping out seven furlongs in 1:27.20. Bird Empire was given a clocking of 1:14.40 time for his six-furlong effort.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas was all smiles after the work, the fifth for Mine That Bird since joining the Lukas barn on May 20.

“When they started training horses 300 years ago, this is what they had in mind,” Lukas said. “His last quarter was in 23 and 2 and his last eighth, it had to be 11 and change. He was flying.”

There is an allowance optional claiming race in the condition book for which Mine That Bird fits for July 3 and Lukas also has nominated Mine That Bird to the Firecracker Handicap (GII) on grass for closing day, July 4. Lukas has not committed to a start in either spot.

“I am not sure where we’ll go,” Lukas said. “He is nominated to the ($250,000) Salvatore Mile (GIII at a mile on July 3 at Monmouth), which is a nice option. He is nominated to everything but the Tokyo Fair. Our goal is the Whitney (Handicap, GI on Aug. 7 at Saratoga). We are going to dive right into the deep end.”

LOCUST GROVE ATTRACTS 47 NOMINEES INCLUDING MINT JULEP TOP THREE – The top three finishers from the June 5 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) – Hot Cha Cha, Acoma and Keertana – headline a list of 47 fillies and mares nominated to the 29th running of the $100,000-added Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) to be run at a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course on July 3.

The top three finished within three-quarters of a length of each other with Acoma carrying 122 pounds and Hot Cha Cha and Keertana 120. Weights for the Locust Grove will be announced Saturday.

Closeout won the 2009 Locust Grove, and the 5-year-old mare is nominated to this year’s renewal. Should Closeout win, she would join Colstar (2000-01) as the only repeat winner of the Locust Grove.

The Locust Grove is one of three graded stakes on the closing weekend of the 42-day meet. Sharing top billing with Locust Grove on July 3 is the 109th running of the $100,000-added Bashford Manor (GIII) for 2-year-olds going six furlongs.

Headlining the list of 22 nominees for the Bashford Manor is Dogwood Stable’s Lou Brissie, winner of the Kentucky Juvenile (GIII) here on April 30. Trained by Neil Howard, Lou Brissie is undefeated in two starts.
Entries for the Bashford Manor, as well as the Locust Grove, will be taken next Wednesday.

The closing-day feature is the 20th running of the $175,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Thirty horses were nominated to the Firecracker, won last year by Mr. Sidney.

Topping the nominations are Don Benge’s Wise River, winner of the Dallas Turf Cup Handicap on May 31 at Lone Star Park in his most recent start, and Michael Cooper and Pamela Ziebarth’s Tizdejavu, a two-time graded stakes winner on the turf at Churchill Downs and winner of the Opening Verse here on June 11.

Weights for the Firecracker will be announced Sunday and entries will be taken Thursday, July 1.

Mine That Bird Works Bullet Five Furlongs at Churchill Downs

Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, working in company with Bird Empire, drilled five furlongs in :59.60 over a fast track Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs.

With jockey Calvin Borel up, Mine That Bird started off two lengths behind Bird Empire and tracked his workmate for three furlongs. Mine That Bird drew alongside Bird Empire at the quarter pole and quickly surged by and finished a length and a half in front.

Churchill Downs clockers caught Mine That Bird in fractions of :24.20, :35.80, :47.60 and out six furlongs in 1:13.40. It was the fastest of 25 works at the distance and the only drill in less than a minute. Bird Empire was timed in 1:00.20.

It was the fourth recorded work for Mine That Bird since arriving in the barn of trainer D. Wayne Lukas on May 20. Mine That Bird worked three furlongs in :35.20 under Dominic Terry on May 26, half-mile in :48 on June 2 under Borel and five furlongs in 1:02 last Tuesday.

“He did what he was supposed to do and went by the other horse easily,” said Borel, who rode Mine That Bird to his Kentucky Derby victory. “It was a nice work.”

Lukas liked what he saw in Mine That Bird’s first work in company since joining his barn.

“I couldn’t have drawn it up any better,” Lukas said. “It was picture perfect and Calvin is such a good judge of pace. I wanted to let him stride out today and he leaped on that horse at the quarter pole.”

Mine That Bird worked immediately after the morning renovation break at 8:30 with temperatures already pushing 80 in humid conditions.

“All the horses coming off the track this morning were sweating, but not him,” Lukas said. “He didn’t take a deep breath and he doesn’t sweat after going a mile and five-eighths, a mile and three-quarters in the morning.”

After nearly four weeks in the Lukas barn after returning to the track from the Double Eagle Ranch in Roswell, N.M., Mine That Bird earned a top grade from Lukas.

"I'’d give him an ‘A.’ I couldn’t be happier with him,” Lukas said. “He has done what I like him to do.”

 Lukas’ initial objective for Mine That Bird is the Whitney Handicap (GI) at Saratoga on Aug. 7. Should Mine That Bird get a return race prior to that at Churchill Downs before the meet ends July 4, he would become the first Kentucky Derby winner to race beneath the Twin Spires since 2005 winner Giacomo finished fourth in the 2006 Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI).

WORK TAB – Donegal Racing’s Paddy O’Prado, third in the Kentucky Derby last month, worked a half-mile in :48.60, fifth fastest of 26 at the distance, in preparation for Saturday’s $500,000 Colonial Turf Cup (GII) at 1 3/16 miles at Colonial Downs.

Mine That Bird Zips Three Furlongs in Return Work; Churchill Repairs, Investigates Hole In Track That Interrupted Training

MINE THAT BIRD WORKS THREE FURLONGS IN :35.20 – Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird worked three furlongs in :35.20 with Dominic Terry in the saddle.

Now trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Mine That Bird was on the track shortly after 6:15 Wednesday morning and rolled through fractions of :12, :23.40 and galloped out a half-mile in :49.60. It was the first work of the year for Mine That Bird, who has not run since finishing ninth behind Zenyatta in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Santa Anita.

Mine That Bird arrived at Churchill Downs last Thursday night after spending the winter at Mark Allen’s Double Eagle Ranch in Roswell, N.M. The 4-year-old gelding jogged Friday morning and had galloped the next four mornings prior to the work

“The good ones do it easy,” Lukas said. “I just wanted him to get a little more interested today. Dominic did not know if he changed leads because he moves so fluidly.”

Mine That Bird resumed morning gallops in mid-March at the ranch.

“He had a good foundation from galloping 60 days on a dry, deep racetrack and at altitude,” Lukas said. “He is a lot more fit than some people would think. We have been asking him to do a little more each morning and what he did this morning was nothing more than what he had been doing. He didn’t take a deep breath coming back. I couldn’t be happier with him.”

TRAINING AT CHURCHILL DOWNS INTERRUPTED WHEN MYSTERIOUS HOLE FORMS IN MAIN TRACK – Training at Churchill Downs was interrupted for nearly two hours Wednesday following the discovery of a hole that suddenly formed on the backstretch of the main track near the far turn.

The track was closed immediately when the hole was discovered shortly after 6:30 a.m. (all times EDT).  The hole was located on the outer third of the track near the half-mile pole and the entry into the far turn.  Track Superintendant Butch Lehr said the hole measured eight to 10 inches across and was about two feet deep.

The hole was filled with the sandy loam material that makes up the base of the one-mile oval and topped with the dirt that covers the entire racing surface.  Training resumed at 8:45 a.m. and the session was extended about 15 minutes past its regular 10 a.m. close to allow as many horses as possible to make up for lost time.

No horses stepped in the hole during the short time between its rapid formation and the closing of the track.

Lehr, a 43-year veteran in the post of track superintendant at the home of the Kentucky Derby, is confident that the repairs made by his track maintenance team have taken care of the issue.  But he does not know at this point what led to the sudden formation of the hole.

“I’ve never seen anything like during all my time here,” said Lehr.     

Track safety specialist Dr. Mick Peterson of the University of Maine will bring his ground-penetrating radar to the track on Friday for a thorough scan of the racing surface and track base.  A similar scan conducted just before the 2009 Kentucky Derby revealed no problems or reason for concern regarding the track surface or base.

Lehr is unsure what might have led to the formation of the unusual hole, but does not expect to find any problems with the track base or surface.

“We repaired it and we’re going to watch it,” Lehr said.  “It was about two feet deep, but we put everything back and tamped it real good.  You couldn’t even tell where it had been when we got finished.  We’re going to watch it real close.  I did some grading on it today, and I believe we took care of the problem.  But we want to take a close look at the track when Mick Peterson gets here with his sonar.”

The track’s regular four-hour training session is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. on Thursday, and Spring Meet racing will resume with a nine-race afternoon program with first race post time set for 12:45 p.m.

BOREL COULD RETURN THURSDAY – Leading rider Calvin Borel, sidelined since May 16 with an eye infection, may return to the races Thursday.

“He is out of the hospital,” agent Jerry Hissam said. “He is at home and he has a little tube for drainage. If the tube comes out today, he will probably ride tomorrow. If not, then Friday. It is just wait and see.”

Borel, who never has won a Spring Meet riding title, holds a 22-15 lead over Shaun Bridgmohan after the first 18 days of the 42-day meet. Borel is named on five mounts Thursday.

Borel, who has won three of the past four Kentucky Derbies, has 995 victories at Churchill Downs, second only to Pat Day’s 2,482.

WORK TAB – Arson Squad, winner of the Alysheba (GIII) in his most recent start, worked six furlongs in preparation for an expected start in the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) to be run June 12. … Two-time graded stakes winner Hot Dixie Chick, expected to take on older fillies and mares in Monday’s Winning Colors (GIII), worked a half-mile in :49.80.

Mine That Bird Gets Back On Track at Churchill Downs; Connie and Michael Eyes Mother Goose

MINE THAT BIRD BACK ON THE TRACK AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – It had been nearly 10 months, but on Friday morning 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird stepped back on the track where he became a household name in taking the Run for the Roses.

Owned by Mark Allen’s Double Eagle Ranch and Dr. Leonard Blach’s Buena Suerte Equine, Mine That Bird returned to Churchill Downs at 8 p.m. Thursday after a two-day van trip from Allen’s ranch in Roswell, N.M.

 “Same trailer as last year, just a different route,” Allen said. “Wednesday we drove 10 hours to just outside of Tulsa where we stayed overnight at the Rockin Z Ranch, and then 12 hours to Louisville.” Last year, Mine That Bird came to Kentucky via Dallas and a stopover at Lone Star Park.

Instead of going to Barn 42 as he did for last year’s Kentucky Derby and where he stayed until leaving for the last time last year on July 24 for the West Virginia Derby (GII), Mine That Bird went to Barn 44 with new trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

“The bigger challenge is with a horse with great potential that can’t run,” Lukas said shortly after Mine That Bird stepped off the trailer and walked around the shedrow. “We know this horse can run. He tailed off at the end of last year and now we can try to put him back on top.”

Mine That Bird closed out 2009 with a ninth-place finish behind unbeaten Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) on Nov. 7. Following the Breeders’ Cup, Mine That Bird returned to the ranch and did not resume training until March 15.

“We just let him be a horse back at the ranch,” said Charlie Figueroa, Mine That Bird’s regular exercise rider last year and morning companion this year at Roswell. “When he started back training, he had a different attitude from last year. It was a little more of a taking care of business thing.”

The ranch has a half-mile training track and before he left this week, Mine That Bird was up to a mile and a half a day galloping.

“Usually, I’d jog him one time around and then gallop another three times around, sometimes more,” Figueroa said. “It is a sandy track, and I learned from being on tracks like that in Arizona, that you cut back about 30 percent of what you usually do to get them fit.”

Lukas liked what he saw of Mine That Bird when he arrived.

“He has been training at altitude, and he may be fitter than a horse coming from Lexington,” Lukas said Thursday night. “I’m going to take him out and jog him in the morning.”

With the renovation break about to end Friday morning, Lukas, on his pony, had Mine That Bird ready to go on the track with exercise rider Arielle Witkowski in the saddle.

“OK, boy, this is where you became famous,” Lukas said, giving Mine That Bird a pat on the nose.

Allen and Figueroa looked on from the viewing stand at the six-furlong gap.

“Hey, Mark. Did he run in a white bridle last year?” Lukas asked Allen referring to his trademark bridles. “You know those move a horse up two lengths.”

“Well, if they move him up two lengths, we’re gonna have a good year,” Allen said.

With the track open, Mine That Bird jogged around to the sixteenth pole with Lukas alongside and then jogged back to the backstretch before finishing his morning exercise with a little time in the mile chute. Mine That Bird was on his toes as he walked back to Barn 44.

“First time I’ve ever been on a Derby winner,” Witkowski said with a smile.

“I think he looks better than I have ever seen him. I am very pleased with what I see,” Lukas said. “He will gallop tomorrow morning.”

Allen plans to stay in Louisville for “four or five days” and Figueroa may stay a bit longer to help with the transition of Mine That Bird from life on the ranch to the Lukas barn. However, Allen does have a side trip planned for Saturday to Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania to see Double Eagle’s Consul Romano (CHI) run that night.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic, to be run here Nov. 6, is the ultimate goal for Mine That Bird this year and Allen is hoping the gelding has at least three starts before the World Championships.

“We will work backward from the Breeders’ Cup to make sure we look good here,” Lukas said. “I’m sure the Whitney (Aug. 7) is going to jump out there and maybe the Suburban (July 3) at Belmont could be another possibility. Then they’ve got the Salvatore Mile (also July 3) at Monmouth Park, so there are plenty of options.”

SOLIS REMEMBERS “AN AMAZING HORSE” SNOW CHIEF – One of the top thoroughbreds of the mid-1980s, Snow Chief, died last Saturday at age 27, almost 24 years to the day he won the Preakness.
    Along for a great majority of the ride was jockey Alex Solis.

“I am very grateful to him,” Solis said. “He put me on the map in Southern California.”

Snow Chief compiled a record of 24-13-3-5 for earnings of $3,383,210. Solis was aboard 17 times, recording 10 victories with two seconds and four thirds. His only off-the-board finish on Snow Chief was in the 1986 Kentucky Derby when Snow Chief finished 11th.

“He just didn’t handle the track that day,” Solis said. “He beat everybody east and west, but the Derby was just one of those races. I knew at the half-mile pole. He got the lead for a little bit and usually he would fight, but not that day.”

Snow Chief had run three times as a 2-year-old before Solis got on board at the Del Mar meet.
“When I first got on him, he was not giving 100 percent all the time,” Solis said. “I suggested to (trainer) Mel Stute that blinkers might be the answer and he had them on from the end of his 2-year-old year on.”
The blinkers went on in the Hollywood Futurity and started a five-race win streak leading up to the Kentucky Derby. Along the way, Snow Chief won the El Camino Real Derby at Bay Meadows, the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park and the Santa Anita Derby.

Nine days after Snow Chief won the Preakness, he won the $1 million Jersey Derby at Garden State Park.
“He was an amazing horse with a lot of heart,” Solis said. “Horses like that don’t come around very often.”

CONNIE AND MICHAEL EYES MOTHER GOOSE – The Brooklyn Boyz Stables’ Connie and Michael expanded her resume Thursday afternoon at Churchill Downs by romping to a 5 ¼-length allowance victory in her dirt debut.

“She is pretty special,” trainer Ken McPeek said. “Her owner, Mr. (Anthony) Bonomo lives in Manhattan and wants to try to run her in New York, so she is headed to the Mother Goose.”

The Mother Goose (GI) is worth $250,000 and run at 1 1/16 miles on June 26.

Connie and Michael debuted last fall at Keeneland on Polytrack, winning by 7 ¾ lengths after breaking from post position 12. Three weeks later, she pressed the pace in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) before fading to eighth, beaten less than five lengths. Three weeks after her Breeders’ Cup dsappointment Connie and Michael finished third, beaten a length, in the Grade III Miesque on turf.

Thursday’s victory marked her return to the races after a nearly six-month layoff. Connie and Michael turned back a challenge from Lady Etienne in the upper stretch before drawing off under Francisco Torres.

Connie and Michael is not the only talented 3-year-old filly in the McPeek barn. He also has Beautician, who ran fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (GI).

“Beautician has been working every Saturday on grass on my farm in Lexington,” McPeek said. “She is going to run in the Regret (at 1 1/8 miles on the grass June 12). “I’ve also got Striking Dancer for the Fleur De Lis (June 12) and My Baby Baby for the Early Times Mint Julep (June 5).”

Noble’s Promise, fifth in the Kentucky Derby (GI) after taking the lead entering the stretch for McPeek, is slated to leave June 3 for England where he is scheduled to run in the St. James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 15.

BARN TALK – A. Stevens Miles Jr.’s Warrior’s Reward, runner-up in the Churchill Downs (GII) on Derby Day, indicated his readiness for the Metropolitan Handicap (GI) at Belmont Park by blazing a bullet five furlongs over a fast track in :58.80 on Friday morning. With exercise rider Tracey Wilkes up, Warrior’s Reward recorded fractions of :12.60, :24.40, :36.20 and :47.40 with a six-furlong gallop-out time of 1:11.40 and seven-eighths in 1:25 before the renovation break.  “He had company for a while,” trainer Ian Wilkes said of Warrior’s Reward, who quickly made up a seven-length deficit on his companion. “It was a good work, and he galloped out strong, too.”  Warrior’s Reward is scheduled to leave for New York on Thursday and Wilkes indicated the colt may work again Wednesday before shipping out. …
Tom Walters’ Pretty Prolific, runner-up in the Grade I Humana Distaff on May 1, will bypass the Winning Colors on Memorial Day according to trainer Jim Baker. “She’s turned out at the farm,” Baker said. “We didn’t want to cut back to six furlongs (the Winning Colors distance) and we wanted to freshen her for a seven-eighths stake at Saratoga.” That would be the $250,000 Ballerina (GI) on Aug. 28.

WORK TAB – IEAH Stables and Resolute Group Stables’ Court Vision, runner-up in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) in his most recent start, worked a half-mile in :49.80. It was the 22nd fastest of 42 at the distance.

HORSEMEN’S GOLF SCRAMBLE RETURNS ON JUNE 8 – The second annual Horsemen’s Golf Scramble will be held Tuesday, June 8 at the Glenmary Country Club in Fern Creek, Ky., to help raise funds for the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs. The cost of the golf outing is $100 per player with four players to a team. Players will be treated to an 11 a.m. lunch. The 18-hole tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. There will be contests for the longest drive, closest to the pin, and a hole-in-one in which someone could win a 2010 Toyota Corolla from Oxmoor Toyota. Registration is due Friday, May 28 and entry forms can be found at the Backside Learning Center or by visiting www.derbymusuem.org/backsidelc.

BRASS HAT’S TRAINER ‘BUFF’ BRADLEY WILL BE SPECIAL ‘GET IN THE GAME WITH JILL BYRNE’ GUEST ON SATURDAY – Trainer William “Buff” Bradley, who conditions the popular 9-year-old gelding Brass Hat, will be Saturday’s “Get in the Game with Jill Byrne” special guest. Byrne and Bradley will discuss several topics including Saturday’s feature race, the 73rd running of the Grade III Louisville Handicap, where Bradley will send out defending champ Brass Hat. The weekly 30-minute seminars offer fans an insider look at the world of horse racing every Saturday in the paddock area starting at 11:45 a.m. Also, it will be televised on television monitors throughout Churchill Downs.

PRIZE MONEY, TRIP TO HORSEPLAYER WORLD SERIES UP FOR GRABS IN SUNDAY’S ‘WHO’S THE CHAMP?’ HANDICAPPING CONTEST – Churchill Downs’ “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Contest continues every Sunday through June 13 with $4,000 in prize money and a coveted prize package to compete in the Horseplayer World Series each week.

   The weekly first prize is $1,500 and a five-day, four-night trip to Las Vegas with round-trip airfare courtesy of American Airlines to compete in the Horseplayer World Series, which is scheduled for Feb. 16-19, 2011 at the Orleans Resort and Casino.

Ira Hopkins of Louisville was last week’s winner.

The “Who’s the Champ?” Handicapping Contest is a game of skill that tests the player’s ability to handicap Thoroughbred racing. Each contestant will start the day with a $24 imaginary bankroll and may only wager exactly $2 to win and $2 to place on six designated races from Churchill Downs.

The contest costs $30 per entry ($25 for Twin Spires Club members) and is limited to 400 entries with a limit of three entries per person. Registration is open Sundays between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the Champions Club Lounge on the second floor of the clubhouse.

Kentucky Derby 135 Winner Mine That Bird returns to Churchill Downs, moves to Lukas Barn

Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s Mine That Bird, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), returned to the scene of the greatest accomplishment early Thursday evening when he arrived at Churchill Downs and took up residence in the barn of Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who will now guide the Derby winner’s career.

Like his journey to Kentucky Derby glory some 13 months earlier, Mine That Bird arrived at Lukas’ Barn 44 in a trailer that had traveled from co-owner Mark Allen’s Double Eagle Ranch near Roswell, NM, where the 4-year-old gelding has been training since March 15.  Mine That Bird was trained by Bennie “Chip” Woolley when he scored his 50-1 upset in Kentucky Derby 135, the second-largest upset in the history of America’s greatest race.  He went on to finish second to Kentucky Oaks (GI)-winning filly Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness and third to eventual 3-year-old champion Summer Bird in the Belmont Stakes (GI).

Allen accompanied Mine That Bird on the journey that included 10 hours on the road before an overnight stopover in Tulsa, OK, followed by 12 hours on the road on Thursday.  Despite the long journey, Mine That Bird appeared frisky and full of himself when he stepped out of the trailer and made his first rounds in the Lukas shedrow.

The Derby winner’s co-owner said the decision by him and partner Dr. Leonard Blach to move Mine That Bird from Woolley’s care to the Lukas barn was difficult.

"Chip is a close friend of mine, and he done us a heck of a job last year,” Allen said.  “But I have a stable of horses back there that I really need looked after, and Mr. Lukas and some other trainers threw their hat in the ring.  When a legend throws his hat in the ring, it’s hard to go against him.”

With the move, Mine That Bird is the latest winner of the famed “Run for the Roses” to settle into a Churchill Downs barn that has housed four Kentucky Derby winners that won the race while wearing Lukas’ signature white bridle.

“But I don’t think we can put his name on the sign though – we can’t take much credit,” said a smiling Lukas.  “But it is an opportunity, and I feel fortunate that they picked us to maybe bring him back to the prominence that he enjoyed here a year ago.”

Lukas was impressed with Mine That Bird’s physical appearance and the energy displayed by the 4-year-old gelding after spending most of two days on the road from New Mexico.  He arrived at the track just after 8 p.m. (EDT).

“He’s such a gutty little competitor,” said Lukas.  “Looking at him here taking his bath, I think he looks better than I’ve ever seen him.  The time off has really served him well.  He looks better to me right now, and talking to the people who’ve been around him, I think he’s doing better right now than he has.  So, I’ve got a little bit of an edge there.  I’m getting a nice horse with some good condition him – I’m very pleased with what I see.  For a horse that just got off a 12-hour van ride, that rascal looks pretty damned good.”

   Mine That Bird brings a career record of 5-2-2 in 14 races with earnings of $2,196,581 into Lukas’ barn.  Lukas said the newest member of his stable might be ready to run within 60 days or so, but added that he might be fitter than he appears having come from high altitude training in New Mexico.  He said the 2010 Derby winner could go out for a jog on Friday morning after the mid-morning break for track maintenance.

While Mine That Bird’s greatest career moment appeared at Churchill Downs last year on the first Saturday in May, Allen said he is hoping for another big day beneath the track’s historic Twin Spires when the Breeders’ Cup comes to Churchill Downs on Nov. 5-6 – highlighted by the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) on Saturday, Nov. 6.

“That’s our goal – right there,” Allen said.  “We’re going to keep him here and not ship him around like we did last year.  That took a lot out of him, and a lot of that was my fault.  We’re going let Mr. Lukas do his magic on him, but that’s our goal: the Breeders’ Cup.”

Lukas said he would like to find an allowance race to get Mine That Bird started as he makes his return from a ninth-place finish behind the unbeaten mare Zenyatta in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita.  But nothing is nailed down at this point.

“I haven’t talked with Mark or Dr. Blach about probably which races we’d want to target,” Lukas said.  “But I’m sure the Whitney’s going to jump right out there, and maybe the Suburban at Belmont could be another possibility.  Then they’ve got the Salvatore Mile over at Monmouth Park, which is another option.  So there are plenty of options.  The ultimate goal, of course, would be the Breeders’ Cup.  Whatever we do, we’ll work backwards from the Breeders’ Cup to make sure we look good here.”

Dates Announced For 2010 Kentucky Derby, Oaks Future Wagers

Churchill Downs will offer fans of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) a trio of opportunities in February and March to make a lucrative early bet on the winner of this year’s “Run for the Roses” and one chance to take a stand on the 3-year-old filly that will succeed Rachel Alexandra as the winner of the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks (GI).

The historic Louisville track has announced dates for three wagering pools for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (“KDFW”), which is entering its 12th year, and a single pool for the Kentucky Oaks Future Wager (“KOFW”), now in its eighth year.  In a significant change, all Kentucky Derby and Oaks future pools will consist of three days of wagering.  Previous pools for both wagers had been four-day events.

Dates for the three Kentucky Derby Future Wager pools (pending final approval by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission) are:

  • Pool 1 – Feb. 12-14
  • Pool 2 – March 5-7
  • Pool 3 – March 26-28

The single pool for the Kentucky Oaks Future wager will coincide with the March 5-7 KDFW Pool 2.  Betting will open each day of the Derby and Oaks pools at noon (all times Eastern).  The Kentucky Derby pools will close at 6 p.m. on Sunday, while betting on the lone Kentucky Oaks pool will conclude at 6:30 p.m., 30 minutes after Pool 2 Derby Future betting is wrapped up.

Exacta wagering, a popular addition to the Kentucky Derby Future Wager betting menu in 2009, will be offered during all three KDFW pools in 2010.  The exacta option was offered on the latter two Derby Future pools in 2009 along with its traditional win option.  The Kentucky Oaks Future Wager will not offer exactas in 2010.

“Last year’s results proved just how unpredictable and exciting the Kentucky Derby and Oaks Future Wagers can be as Mine That Bird, a 50-1 longshot winner on Derby Day, returned a winning payout as an ‘all others’ wager in all three Derby pools, and the dominant Rachel Alexandra was actually a bettor’s bargain as the second betting choice in the only Oaks pool,” said Kevin Flanery, president of Churchill Downs racetrack.   “Exacta wagering was a welcomed addition to the Derby Future pools last year, and we think the shorter three-day future pools we’ve scheduled for 2010 for both wagers will sharpen the focus of our players, generate new excitement and add to the fun of betting experiences that are now a part of the traditions of both the Kentucky Derby and Oaks.”

The KDFW and KOFW pools consist of 24 wagering interests that include 23 individual horses and a mutuel field, or “all others” interest.  In the Kentucky Derby wager, the mutuel field includes all other 3-year-olds.  The mutuel field in the Kentucky Oaks bet includes all other 3-year-old fillies.

All bets in the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Future Wagers are $2 minimum wagers.  There are no refunds on any wagers made during the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks future pools.  If it is determined during those pools that one of the individual horses has suffered an illness, injury or other circumstance that will prevent that horse from competing in either race, wagering on that betting interest will be suspended at that point.

The 136th running of the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands is scheduled for Saturday, May 1 at Churchill Downs.   The Kentucky Oaks, America’s premier race for 3-year-old fillies, will be renewed for the 136th time on Friday, April 30.  Both races have been held without interruption since the first racing meet at Churchill Downs was conducted in 1875.  

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Statistics- Download the PDF

Jockey Calvin Borel Saluted Nov. 21-22 with Bobblehead Giveaway, Roast & More

Popular Churchill Downs-based jockey Calvin Borel, who swept this year’s Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby aboard Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird, respectively, will be honored at Churchill Downs this weekend (Nov. 21-22) with a bobblehead giveaway, autograph session, roast and his very own drink special.

The first 7,500 fans through admission gates on Saturday (Nov. 21) will receive a free Calvin Borel bobblehead, courtesy of Kroger. The great majority of the Borel bobbleheads will showcase the 43-year-old Cajun in the familiar silks of Derby winner Mine That Bird. However, as a special treat, there will be 75 autographed, limited edition Borel bobbleheads mixed in the allotment that showcase the silks of leading Horse of the Year candidate Rachel Alexandra.   

Only 500 Borel bobbleheads with Rachel Alexandra’s silks were made and the remaining 425 will be sold near the PEB mural in the ITW area on the second floor of the clubhouse for $49.95 by Leonard Lusky of Commemorative Derby Promotions. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund.

The next day on Sunday (Nov. 22), Borel will participate in a free autograph session with fans so they can get their bobbleheads and other memorabilia signed (time to be announced Friday to best accommodate Borel’s Sunday riding commitments).

Borel will also be Jill Byrne’s special guest during Saturday’s “Get in the Game” seminar in the paddock area at 11:50 a.m.

Additionally, a thirst-quenching new drink called the “Borel Breezer” – a mix of Woodford Reserve, cranberry juice and a splash of lemon-line served on ice in a commemorative racing-themed mint julep glass – has been specially created for the weekend. Priced at $7, it will be sold throughout the facility for only $4 immediately after Borel wins a race.

A roast in honor of Borel, complete with praise, outlandish stories and comedic insults from special guests, will take place after the races on Sunday (Nov. 22) in the Triple Crown Room. Tickets for the much-anticipated plated dinner are $100 and proceeds will benefit the Kentucky Equine Humane Center. A cocktail reception will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the dinner and ceremonies set to commence at 6:30 p.m. To make reservations to the roast, call Kelly Danner at (502) 638-3825.

Borel, a native of St. Martin Parish, La. who rode his first professional winner at age 16 on Jan. 14, 1983 at Delta Downs, began the week with 4,678 career victories, including 73 graded stakes wins, from 31,576 career mounts. His mounts had earned more than $105.7 million.

His career highlights include:
¨    Regular rider for 2009 Horse of the Year candidate Rachel Alexandra, including victories in the 2008 Golden Rod (Gr. II) at age 2 and eight 2009 triumphs at age 3 led by the Fair Grounds Oaks (Gr. II), Fantasy (Gr. II), Kentucky Oaks (Gr. I), Preakness Stakes against 3-year-old males (Gr. I), Mother Goose (Gr. I), Haskell Invitational (Gr. I) against 3-year-old males and Woodward (Gr. I) against older colts and geldings.
¨    Two wins in the Kentucky Derby: Street Sense (2007) and Mine That Bird (2009)
¨    Two wins in the Grade I Apple Blossom: Halo America (1997) and Gourmet Girl (2001)
¨    Additional Grade I victories include the 1991 Super Derby (Free Spirit’s Joy), 2000 Oaklawn Handicap (K One King), 2006 Stephen Foster Handicap (Seek Gold), 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Street Sense), 2007 Sword Dancer (Grand Couturier-GB), 2007 Alabama (Lady Joanne), 2007 Travers (Street Sense).
¨    He has lit up the tote board in three major races: Rockamundo (108-1) in the 1993 Arkansas Derby, Seek Gold (92-1) in the 2006 Stephen Foster and Mine That Bird (50-1) in the 2009 Kentucky Derby.

Born Nov. 7, 1966, Borel – nicknamed “Bo-Rail” for his penchant of hugging the inside rail en route to numerous victories – is second to the legendary Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day in career wins at Churchill Downs with 958 trips to the winner’s circle, and ranks sixth in local stakes wins with 45. He has cracked the top five of the Churchill Downs jockey standings for 23 of the last 28 meetings since the fall of 1995, including titles during the 1999 and 2006 Fall Meets. He has been a runner-up on eight occasions.

Following his victories in this spring’s Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, Borel had celebrity-like status with appearances on The Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman to name a few. He and Mine That Bird also graced the cover of Sports Illustrated. Two years earlier, he was invited to the White House for a white-tie dinner honoring Queen Elizabeth immediately after she witnessed Street Sense’s 2007 Kentucky Derby triumph.

Borel, the younger brother of Churchill Downs-based trainer Cecil Borel, began riding match races at his home state at age 8 before launching his professional career. Known for his tireless work ethic and horsemanship, he currently rides the Kentucky-Arkansas-Louisiana circuit with summer stints at Saratoga. His fiancée is Lisa Funk and his longtime agent is Jerry Hissam.

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Breeders' Cup Fields Have Strong Churchill Downs Presence; Borel Likes the Bird's Draw

BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FEATURE STRONG CHURCHILL DOWNS INFLUENCE – When the 26th renewal of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships begin its two-day run at Oak Tree at Santa Anita on Friday, the presence of Churchill Downs-based trainers and runners that have performed beneath the Twin Spires in 2009 will be significant.

In all, 13 of the 14 races will feature participants that, in some fashion, have ties to Churchill Downs, with the only exception being Friday’s Ladies’ Classic (Grade I)..

The Breeders’ Cup card kicks off Friday at 3:35 p.m. (all times EST) with the Marathon followed by five races for fillies and mares culminating with the Ladies’ Classic at 6:45 p.m. Saturday will feature nine Breeders’ Cup races beginning with the Juvenile Turf at 1:45 p.m. and concluding with the Classic at 6:45 p.m.

First post time for the live Churchill Downs cards both days is 12:40 p.m.

Here is a rundown of horses that have run or trained at Churchill Downs in 2009 or who have trainers with Churchill Downs or the Trackside Training Center as their main base participating in the Breeders’ Cup in race order:

Marathon: Gangbuster (30-1).

Juvenile Fillies Turf: House of Grace (4-1), Jungle Tale (15-1), Lisa’s Kitten (12-1) and Tapitsfly (8-1).

Juvenile Fillies: Beautician (6-1), Connie and Michael (4-1) and She Be Wild (8-1).

Filly & Mare Turf: Pure Clan (5-1) and Visit (10-1).

Filly & Mare Sprint: Game Face (10-1) and Informed Decision (5-2).

Juvenile Turf: Becky’s Kitten (12-1), Bridgetown (8-1), Kera’s Kitten (12-1) and King Ledley (20-1). Dean’s Kitten (20-1) is on the also-eligible list.

Turf Sprint: Cannonball (8-1).

Sprint: Capt. Candyman Can (15-1) and Join in the Dance (30-1).

Juvenile: Aspire (30-1), Noble’s Promise (8-1) and William’s Kitten (30-1).

Mile: Court Vision (12-1) and Cowboy Cal (6-1).

Dirt Mile: Bullsbay (3-1), Chocolate Candy (15-1), Furthest Land (20-1) and Mr. Sidney (12-1).

Turf: Telling (20-1).

Classic: Einstein (12-1), Mine That Bird (12-1), Regal Ransom (20-1), Summer Bird (9-2) and Zenyatta (5-2). Zenyatta trained two days at Churchill Downs this spring in preparation for the Louisville Distaff (GII) but did not run because of track condition.

RAIL DRAW IN CLASSIC FOR DERBY WINNER BUOYS BOREL – Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner Mine That Bird landed in the No. 1 post position for Saturday’s $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Santa Anita when the 14-race World Championships card was drawn Tuesday.

“I love it,” jockey Calvin Borel said with a big grin Wednesday morning during the renovation break at Churchill Downs.

Borel gave Mine That Bird a rail-skimming ride in the Derby in May to post a 50-1 upset. It was Borel’s second Kentucky Derby victory. Borel, who turns 43 on Saturday, is hoping Mine That Bird gives him a second Breeders’ Cup victory.

“I have seen him training in the mornings and he looks like he is going just like he was before the Derby, maybe more so than in any race since the Derby,” Borel said.

Borel, who rode two winners here on Sunday’s opening-day card, said he has talked with trainer Chip Woolley since Mine That Bird’s sixth-place finish in the Goodwood (GI) at Santa Anita on Oct. 10.

“He told me he has been training good,” Borel said. “His last race was not that bad. He gets an extra eighth of a mile this time and he needed that last race since it was his first start in two months.”

Borel has one other mount on Saturday: Ready’s Echo for trainer Todd Pletcher in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.

“He’s a nice little horse,” Borel said of Ready’s Echo, who drew post position 10. “I rode him one time at Saratoga and he ran good (finishing third in the seven-furlong Forego). He might have won with a little luck because he got in a little trouble.”

DEMARCATION RETURNS TO THE DIRT IN FRIDAY’S ACK ACK – It is back to the dirt for the Amerman Racing Stables’ Demarcation in Friday’s 17th running of the $100,000-added Ack Ack (GIII).

Trained by Paul McGee, Demarcation has not raced on the dirt since Feb. 17, 2008, at the Fair Grounds. The ensuing 13 starts have been on the grass at five tracks.

So why dirt and why now?

Actually it was by process of elimination,” McGee said. “I entered him in a money/allowance at Keeneland last week that didn’t fill and then I entered him in a money/allowance here that didn’t fill.

But he has run well on dirt and I was looking to get him back on the dirt. He broke his maiden going six furlongs on the dirt at the Fair Grounds and he ran second here in the Matt Winn behind Spin Master as a 3-year-old.”

Jose Castanon has the riding assignment Friday and will break from post position three in the field of eight. Castanon was aboard for Demarcation’s most recent victory, a dead heat with Karelian in last fall’s River City Handicap (GIII) here.

McGee also said that David Holloway Racing’s Dubious Miss, an easy winner Saturday at Keeneland, is being pointed to the Nov. 27 Clark Handicap Presented by Norton Healthcare (GII) at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

BARN TALK – Doc Danner, agent for jockey Julia Brimo who was injured in a spill Friday at Keeneland, said the rider had an operation Tuesday at the University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington. “The operation went well and now we just hope for the best for the next 48 to 72 hours,” Danner said of the procedure to relieve pressure on Brimo’s vertebrae.

Nominations close today for the 36th running of the $100,000-added Cardinal Handicap (GIII) for fillies and mares going 1 1/8 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course on Saturday, Nov. 21. Indescribable won last year’s Cardinal under Kent Desormeaux for trainer Bill Mott, his record sixth victory in the race.