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BARN NOTES (6.1.09) - Mine That Bird Has Final Belmont Prep/Rachel Alexandra Works/Acoma Preps For Mint Julep
MINE THAT BIRD WORKS HALF-MILE IN :50 FOR BELMONT – Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s Mine That Bird put in his final major preparation for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (Grade I) by working a half-mile in :50 under jockey Calvin Borel on Monday at Churchill Downs.
The winner of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) came on the fast Churchill Downs track shortly after 8:30 a.m. (all times EDT) when the track reopened after the morning renovation break. Borel backtracked Mine That Bird to the frontside and then loped around to the backstretch for the work that clockers caught in splits of :13.80, :26.60, :38.40, the half in :50 with a five-eighths gallop out time of 1:02.20 and six furlongs in 1:15.
The time for the half-mile was the 32nd fastest of 57 at the distance.
“He picked it up good the last quarter,” said trainer Chip Woolley, who before the work said he was looking for something in the 49 to 49.20 range. “The main thing was the last quarter in 23 and 2. The important part was finishing strong and galloping out without weakening.”
After the work, Borel was ecstatic about the work and Mine That Bird’s chances in the Belmont.
“We’re gonna win, no questions asked,” Borel said. “He worked in :50 and out in 1:02, just like before the Derby. He is doing everything the same. After those two hard races (the Derby and Preakness), I think the colt is very happy.”
Woolley continued to the perfect fit that has become horse and rider.
“You watch when he comes out on the track with (exercise rider) Charlie (Figueroa) or anybody else and he has his head up and is looking around,” Woolley said. “With Calvin, he just drops his neck and knows it is time to go to work. He knows the difference, maybe it’s because Calvin is lighter.”
Woolley is going to look in on Mine That Bird early Tuesday morning before catching a 7:15 flight to New York with Mine That Bird flying the following day.
“I think we are in good shape going into the Belmont,” Woolley said. “The horse is doing good and probably training better than he did going into the Derby.
“It is going to be a tough race and, how many do I fear? How many are in there? Wayne’s horse (Flying Private for trainer D. Wayne Lukas) is on the improve and Kiaran’s horse (Charitable Man for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin) is a sheer monster and he likes that racetrack.”
Woolley said that Mine That Bird would return to the track early Wednesday morning to backtrack to the paddock runway and go around the track 1 ½ times. Mine That Bird would go to the track at Belmont on Thursday and Friday “but not on Saturday unless he is getting rattled.”
Tentative plans call for Mine That Bird to return to Churchill Downs next Monday and remain here at least for a week.
“All of our stuff is here and so is the trailer,” Woolley said. “We’ll see how he does up there and how he comes out of the race but the plan now is we’ll stay here at least through the Stephen Foster (June 13) and then decide on where we’ll go.”
RACHEL ALEXANDRA WORKS SOLID FIVE FURLONGS – Stonestreet Stables and Harold McCormick’s Rachel Alexandra, winner of Preakness (Grade I) and Kentucky Oaks (GI), breezed a solid five furlongs on Monday in her first serious training move since majority owner Jess Jackson announced that she would bypass Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.
Regular exercise rider Dominic Terry was in the irons aboard the Steve Asmussen-trained daughter of Medaglia d’Oro covered the distance over a “fast” track in 1:01.60. Churchill Downs clockers timed Rachel Alexandra in fractions of :13, :25.20, :37 and :49.20. She galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.60.
As the filly worked around 6:30 a.m. (EDT), trainer Steve Asmussen and Barbara Banke, Jackson’s wife, looked on.
“She’s a beautiful filly and travels tremendous,” said Asmussen. “She’s got a gorgeous stride on her and she seemed very comfortable. I thought Dominic did a great job with her as usual.”
Asmussen said no firm target has been selected for Rachel Alexandra’s return to racing after her historic win over males in the May 16 Preakness at Pimlico.
“I think everybody gets to take a step back and take a deep breath,” he said. “We’ll take a little bit of the pressure off her and just enjoy her. We were very pleased with how she went. We’ll see what sort of energy she comes out of it with. As always, we’ll be talking with Jess and communicating where we feel she is.”
Rachel Alexandra has a record of 8-2-0 in 11 races and has earned $1,618,354.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – Helen Alexander and Helen Groves’ Acoma breezed four furlongs in :48.40. The winner of the Mrs. Revere (GII) and Dogwood (GIII) is scheduled to run next in the Early Times Mint Julep (GIII) on the Matt Winn Turf Course … Derby Trial (GIII) runner-up Kensei breezed a half-mile in :48.40 for Asmussen in preparation for a run in Saturday’s Riva Ridge (GII) on the Belmont Stakes undercard at Belmont Park . … Northern Dancer (GIII) candidate Omniscient breezed six furlongs in 1:14 … Fleur De Lis (GII) candidate Copper State breezed six furlongs in 1:13.40 … Eight Belles (GIII) winner Four Gifts worked four furlongs in :51.80.