OWNERS TURN DOWN OFFER FOR MINE THAT BIRD – Trainer Chip Woolley said Friday morning that an offer to purchase Mine That Bird, winner of this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I), has been turned down by owners Mark Allen of Double Eagle Ranch and Dr. Leonard Blach of Buena Suerte Equine.
“After considerable thought, Mark and Doc made the decision not to sell,” Woolley said. “I’m happy. I spent 25 years looking for this horse and I sure didn’t want to lose him.”
Woolley did not identify the potential buyer nor disclose the size of the offer.
Woolley said he received a call Tuesday night saying Mine That Bird would be vetted on Wednesday, which he was. After Mine That Bird won the Kentucky Derby on May 2, the owners received several inquiries about the gelding but no offers had been made. Wednesday’s exam marked the first time Mine That Bird had been vetted.
With regular morning partner Charlie Figueroa up, Mine That Bird back-tracked once around accompanied by a pony Friday. Woolley plans to have Mine That Bird walk Saturday and jog again Sunday before resuming regular training on Monday to begin preparation for the West Virginia Derby (Grade II) on Aug. 1.
With Mine That Bird staying put, Woolley said he probably would keep the Derby winner at Churchill Downs another four weeks.
“I’d like to get him up there (at Mountaineer in Chester, W.Va.) early enough to have two breezes over the track,” Woolley said. “We may leave around (July) 16th or 17th to give him time to gallop once there before he works.”
LANERIE ENJOYING SOLID SPRING MEET – If jockey Corey Lanerie did not envision having a solid spring in Kentucky, he might have gotten an inkling of what could happen on April 4, the second day of the Keeneland meet.
“I was just sitting in the room an hour before the race (the Grade I Ashland) and fell into the garden spot,” said Lanerie, who picked up the mount on Hooh Why when Rene Douglas became ill and could not ride.
Hooh Why upset Stardom Bound in the Ashland and Lanerie was off an running to a top-10 finish in the Keeneland rider standings with an average win mutuel of $44.40.
Lanerie entered Friday night’s card with 25 victories during the current Churchill Downs meet, good for six in the rider standings.
“Things are going great, I’m working hard and my agent (Terry Miller) is doing a good job,” said Lanerie, a 34-year-old native of Lafayette, La. “And, it helps to be lucky. I have ridden a lot of longshots.”
Lanerie’s best meet here was Spring 2007 when he rode 28 winners on the heels of 27-win campaigns in the spring in 2005 and 2006.
“I am on track to surpass my goal of 30,” Lanerie said. “Things are falling into place. I am getting on better horses and riding a lot more horses.”
Lanerie’s best day was May 16 when he rode three winners and his top Churchill Downs victory came on Acoma in the Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (Grade III) on June 6. His average win payoff of $16.10 is surpassed by only Jon Court ($22.10) and Jesus Castanon ($17.90) among the top 10 riders in victories.
After the Churchill Downs meet closes on July 5, Lanerie plans to spend the summer riding at Ellis Park.
VETERAN BRASS HAT SHARP IN FRIDAY DRILL – Fred Bradley’s millionaire Brass Hat turned in a strong five-furlong work Friday morning over a fast Churchill Downs main track under Calvin Borel as he prepared for his next start.
“He went in 59 and 3 and out (six furlongs) in 1:12 and 4,” trainer William “Buff” Bradley said of the move that was the second fastest of 22 at the distance. “Calvin said he was hitting the ground good.”
The work was the second for Brass Hat since he won the Louisville Handicap (Grade III) on May 23. Brass Hat had worked five furlongs last Saturday in 1:00.40.
After the Louisville Handicap victory, Bradley sent Brass Hat to the family farm in Frankfort for a week off.
“He came back real good after the break,” Bradley said. “Usually after he runs, he goes right to the farm so we can let him be a horse for a while.”
The $750,000 United Nations Handicap (Grade I) at Monmouth Park at 1 3/8 miles on the turf on July 4 is one target Bradley is looking at for Brass Hat, who now has earned $1,892,360.
“We are leaning that way or the race a week later at Chicago,” Bradley said, referring to the $200,000 Arlington Handicap (Grade III) at 1 ¼ miles on the turf. “We have to make a decision soon on which way to go.”
MILESTONE WATCH – Badger Barry’s victory in Thursday’s seventh race gave trainer Greg Foley his 298th career winner at Churchill Downs. Foley has no horses entered Friday, but two on Saturday: Oh Charlie Boy in the fifth and Cajun Prize in the 10th and two on Sunday: Q Mac’s Phone in the sixth and Hickory Dee in the 10th. The victory was Foley’s 13th of the meet, marking his best spring since winning 14 races in 2007. His best spring came in 2006 with 18 winners.
Bill Connelly, who has saddled 998 winners in his career, has Sweetasnails entered in Friday night’s 11th race.
BARN TALK – The victory by Tally Up in Thursday’s fifth race gave owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey their 16th win of the Spring Meet. Runaway leaders in their quest for a record-extending 15th meet title, the Ramseys sent out 20 winners last spring, one fewer than their top total achieved in 2006. The spring record is 27, established in 1984 by A.J. Foyt Jr. during a 93-day meet.
Even though Calvin Borel trails Julien Leparoux by four victories (52-48) in the chase for leading rider, Borel is far in front in purse money won with $3,369,275. Leparoux is next in money won with $2,212,980. With 11 days of racing remaining in the 45-day Spring Meet, Borel should to surpass his total of $3,376,606 in earnings amassed in 2007 and could top Rafael Bejarano’s record total of $3,460,332 established in 2006. Borel will be out of town on Saturday to ride in three stakes at Arlington Park on the track’s Prairie State Festival card.
WORK TAB – Be Fair, fourth-place finisher in the Kentucky Oaks behind Rachel Alexandra, worked a bullet half-mile in :46.80, best of 41 at the distance, for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Sam P., ninth behind Street Sense in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, worked five furlongs in 1:00.40, fifth best of 22 at the distance, for trainer Todd Pletcher.