In his second workout since returning to Churchill Downs, 2009 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) winner Mine That Bird worked a half-mile in :48 with jockey Calvin Borel up.
Churchill Downs clockers caught Mine That Bird in fractions of :12.40, :24.20 and out five furlongs in 1:01.40 immediately after the track opened following the morning renovation break. The half-mile time was the second fastest of 32 at the distance over a fast track.
It was the first time Borel had been on the 4-year-old gelding since Mine That Bird finished ninth behind the undefeated Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic (GI) on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita.
"He has really blossomed since last fall and has gotten bigger. The time off did him good," Borel said. "He was real good this morning. He went nice and easy and galloped out good."
Mine That Bird had worked three furlongs in :35.20 last Wednesday after having arrived at Churchill Downs on May 20 from the Double Eagle Ranch of co-owner Mark Allen in Roswell, N.M.
Trainer D. Wayne Lukas liked what he saw Wednesday morning.
"He went real nice," Lukas said. "It is a delight to see one breeze like that and enjoy what he is doing. He gets over the ground beautifully.
"Calvin was excited. The first thing he said to me was ‘That was something.' "
In addition to the Kentucky Derby victory, Borel also rode Mine That Bird to a third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes (GI) and was aboard for the gelding's final two starts of 2009, the Goodwood (GI) and Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on the synthetic Pro-Ride surface.
Lukas said he has no comeback race targeted at this time.
"When we start, we want him to be dead right," Lukas said. "Our long-range plan is the ($750,000) Whitney (Handicap, Grade I at 1 1/18 miles on Aug. 7 at Saratoga). He took a big step forward today."
SOLIS GETS MOUNT ON GENERAL QUARTERS FOR STEPHEN FOSTER - Owner-trainer Tom McCarthy said Wednesday morning that Alex Solis would work two-time Grade I winner General Quarters on Thursday morning and have the mount on the 4-year-old colt in the $600,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) on June 12.
"That's the plan right now," McCarthy said. "He will work in the morning, but if it is raining hard, he won't do it."
General Quarters, coming off a victory in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on May 1, initially was going to remain on the grass and point for the Arlington Million (GI) on Aug. 21 with a prep in the Arlington Handicap (GIII) on July 17. However, McCarthy wanted a race in between and the Stephen Foster fit nicely in the schedule without having to ship.
Should General Quarters win the Stephen Foster, he would join Lava Man as the only horses to have won Grade I stakes on three surfaces. General Quarters won last year's Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland over Polytrack.
RACHEL ALEXANDRA HOLDS KEY TO FOSTER, FLEUR DE LIS FIELDS - Reigning Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra is scheduled to race June 12 with four possible races as targets including two at Churchill Downs: the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) at 1 1/8 miles against the males or the $200,000 Fleur De Lis Handicap (GII) at 1 1/8 miles against her own gender.
Other possibilities are the $250,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap (GI) at 1 1/16 miles against fillies and mares at Belmont Park and the $150,000 Obeah Stakes (GIII) at 1 1/8 miles against fillies and mares where Rachel Alexandra would carry 123 pounds according to allowance conditions of the race. Weights for the Stephen Foster, Fleur De Lis and Ogden Phipps will be released Saturday.
With or without Rachel Alexandra, five horses are considered as probable for the Stephen Foster led by defending champion Macho Again. Other probables include millionaire Arson Squad, winner of the Alysheba (GIII) here in his most recent start, New Orleans Handicap (GII) winner Battle Plan, Clark Handicap (GII) winner Blame and General Quarters. Nineteen horses were nominated to the Stephen Foster.
The Fleur De Lis, won last year by Miss Isella, drew 20 nominations including Morena (Per), who finished third behind Unrivaled Belle and Rachel Alexandra in the La Troienne (GII) here on April 30 and Distinctive Dixie, who was fourth in the La Troienne.
Three other graded stakes, all for 3-year-olds, are on tap at Churchill Downs on June 12, which is Kentucky Derby Alumni Day.
The 35th running of the $100,000-added Jefferson Cup at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course drew 32 nominations including El Camino Real Derby (GIII) winner Connemara and Guys Reward, third-place finisher in the Transylvania (GIII) and American Turf (GII) this spring.
The filly counterpart to the Jefferson Cup, the 1 1/8-mile, $125,000-added Regret, drew 37 nominations including Beautician, who was fourth in the Kentucky
Oaks (GI) and It's Tea Time, runner-up in the Central Bank Ashland (GI) before finishing ninth in the Kentucky Oaks (GI) in her lone start on dirt.
The $125,000-added Northern Dancer, run at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, attracted 26 nominations including Thiskyhasnolimit, winner of the Matt Winn on May 15 in his 2010 debut.
POST-MEMORIAL DAY RACING TO RESUME FRIDAY, JUNE 4 - Churchill Downs' Spring Meet will resume on Friday, June 4, following a three-day post-Memorial Day break, with its regular "Dress to Impress Happy Hours" twilight racing program.
Post time for the Friday's racing program is 2:45 p.m. (all times EDT) with special Happy Hour food and drink prices available from 4-7 p.m.
Simulcasting at Trackside at Churchill Downs will resume after a two-day break on Thursday, June 3.
The racing program on Saturday, June 5 will offer wagering on the Belmont Stakes (GI), the final jewel of the Triple Crown, and will offer a racing program headed by the Early Times Mint Julep (GIII) for fillies and mares ages 3 and up at 1 1/16 miles on the Matt Winn Turf Course.
"Downs After Dark" night racing return to Churchill Downs Friday, June 11, which will be the first evening of racing under the track's permanent lighting system.