“He looked super and switched leads perfectly,” trainer Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr said. “I was happy with him yesterday (when Mine That Bird galloped a mile). He tried to run off a little bit and that surprised me. I will let him do a little bit more tomorrow.”
Owned by Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine, Mine That Bird is scheduled to ship to Pimlico next Tuesday where he likely will face a full gate of challengers.
Woolley said he feels no added pressure going into the second leg of the Triple Crown to quiet naysayers who viewed the 50-1 Derby victory as a fluke.
“He had a great run and came out on top,” Woolley said. “We are going to train him the way we trained here and hope things go well again.
“I don’t expect us to be the favorite. Pioneerof the Nile, if he runs, rightfully so. He may have stumbled a little bit in the Kentucky Derby, The Preakness is a sixteenth of a mile shorter and that is in his favor.”
Woolley may have had karma on his side Derby Week without knowing it.
His stable jacket has a horse on the back bearing a No. 8 saddle cloth. Mine That Bird, of course, wore No. 8 in the Derby.
“This jacket’s at least three years old,” Woolley said. “I hadn’t even thought about that.”
STALL’S TERRAIN PREAKNESS-BOUND – Adele Dilschneider’s Terrain galloped a mile and half at Churchill Downs under exercise rider Jimmy Valdez rather than boarding a plane to Texas for Saturday’s Lone Star Derby (Grade III).
“We are not exactly sure what we saw last Saturday,” trainer Al Stall Jr. said of Mine That Bird’s upset victory and the decision to go on to Baltimore.
Fourth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Grade I) in his most recent start on April 11, Terrain vanned to Churchill Downs on Tuesday afternoon from Keeneland where he had two works since the Blue Grass after a little break.
“He is right where he needs to be,” said Stall, who plans to work Terrain Saturday or Sunday and ship to Baltimore next Wednesday.
No Preakness rider has been confirmed for Terrain.
PAPA CLEM HEADING TO PIMLICO THIS WEEKEND -- Trainer Gary Stute said Wednesday morning that Bo Hirsch’s Papa Clem, fourth to Mine That Bird in Kentucky Derby 135, may leave Churchill Downs for Pimlico on Friday or Saturday.
“My alternate plan was to breeze him five-eighths at Churchill Downs on Friday, then check his legs on Saturday and wait to ship,” Stute said. “But I am thinking now that I will go on to Baltimore and meet the horse there, gallop him a few days then breeze five-eighths either Monday or Tuesday.”
Papa Clem galloped a mile and a half before the renovation break on Wednesday under exercise rider Mundo Gonzalez.
McCARTHY EYES PREAKNESS WITH GENERAL QUARTERS – “I think he went from 50 percent to 80 percent today,” owner/trainer Tom McCarthy said of the Preakness status of General Quarters after the colt galloped a mile and a quarter under exercise rider Julie Sheets on Wednesday morning.
“I knew I couldn’t walk him another day and Julie couldn’t stop him,” McCarthy said. “He came out of this race better than any race yet.”
General Quarters, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Grade I) before finishing 10th in Kentucky Derby 135, returned to the track Wednesday for the first time since the Run for the Roses.
“You never know until they gallop if there is anything wrong. You can see it right away,” McCarthy said. “But he did so well this morning.”
General Quarters is scheduled to gallop again in the morning for McCarthy, who had said he wanted to see the colt gallop two days before rendering judgment on a Preakness bid.
But after the morning’s activity, McCarthy sounded like a man whose mind was made up.
“He likes to ship, so if we go, he would van up Tuesday and that would give us Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to gallop over there,” McCarthy said. “Julien (Leparoux) would ride him back.”
PREAKNESS PROSPECTS GALLOP, JOG UNDER TWIN SPIRES – Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, Team Valor International and Gary Barber’s undefeated Hull galloped after the renovation break Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs.
Now three-for-three after winning the Grade III Derby Trial on April 25, Hull is scheduled to have his first work since that victory on Saturday before heading to Pimlico on May 13.
Trainer Dale Romans, who never has had a Preakness starter, was asked what the deciding factor was in opting for the Preakness for the son of Holy Bull.
“It looks like a wide-open race,” Romans said.
Miguel Mena, who rode Hull to his Derby trial victory, has the Preakness mount.
Robert Baker and William Mack’s Flying Private galloped before the renovation break with exercise rider Taylor Carty up.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Flying Private returned to the track for the first time since running 19th in the Kentucky Derby on Tuesday to jog. Lukas said no rider has been confirmed for Flying Private, who is scheduled to ship to Pimlico on May 12.
Lukas also will be bringing Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) runner-up Stone Legacy to Pimlico for the May 15 Black-Eyed Susan, plus Jazz Nation.
Zayat Stables’ Pioneerof the Nile was one of the first horses on the track, jogging once around accompanied by a pony.
“Everything is looking good this morning,” said Jim Barnes, assistant to trainer Bob Baffert of Pioneerof the Nile’s first day back at the track since his runner-up finish in Kentucky Derby 135. Exercise rider George Alvarez was aboard Pioneerof the Nile.
BARN TALK – L and M Partners’ Rachel Alexandra, record-breaking 20 ¼-length winner of the Kentucky Oaks 135 last Friday, returned to the track Wednesday morning for the first time since that score. With exercise rider Rudy Gallegos up, Rachel Alexandra jogged a mile and a quarter.
Richard, Bertram and Elaine Klein’s undefeated Cash Refund is headed for the May 16 Matt Winn for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs. “He is going to work Friday or Saturday,” trainer Steve Margolis said of Cash Refund, who was a seven-length allowance winner on opening day, April 25 going six furlongs.
In the $100,000-added Matt Winn, Cash Refund is likely to meet up with three-time graded stakes winner Capt. Candyman Can for trainer Ian Wilkes. Owned by Joseph Rauch and David Zell, the 3-year-old gelding worked a bullet five-eighths in 1:00.20 on Tuesday.
Churchill Downs Spring Meet Leaders (through May 2)
Julien Leparoux 54 10-9-4
Jamie Theriot 38 10-4-7
Calvin Borel 45 9-5-6
Steve Asmussen 26 5-4-5
Greg Foley 12 4-4-0
Steve Margolis 14 4-1-0
Al Stall Jr. 12 3-3-1
Zayat Stables; Marylou Whitney Stable; Richard, Elaine and Bert Klein; Heiligbrodt Racing Stable; Billy Hays; and Columbine Stable tied with 2 (two) wins