Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) winner Mine That Bird worked a half-mile in :51 over a fast track Monday morning at Churchill Downs in his first serious training move since a third-place finish to Summer Bird in the Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 6.
ockey Calvin Borel was aboard for the first in a series of five breezes leading to a scheduled run in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (Grade II) on Aug. 1 at Mountaineer.
Working well off the rail in the four path, Mine That Bird clicked off fractions of :12.80, :25.20, :38.20 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:04.40. The half-mile time was the 30th fastest of 42 at the distance.
Coming off the track, Borel gave a big thumbs up to trainer Chip Woolley.
“He came off the track bouncing just like he was before the Derby,” Borel said. “He’s ready. He doesn’t need much. He’s playful and happy and back to right where he was before the Derby.”
Woolley thought the work would be a little faster.
“I thought he’d go in :49 or :50 because he’s a little fresh, the freshest he’s ever been,” Woolley said. “I thought he’d be in the bridle a little more, but he looked good and came back cool as a cucumber. He was a little more into the bridle at Belmont and got a little shook up. Believe me, I like it a lot better this way.”
Owned by Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine, Mine That Bird will walk Tuesday and return to the track Wednesday with another half-mile work scheduled for next Monday, July 6.
“His work next week will be sharper and then we will back off a bit in the next one,” Woolley said of the schedule that calls for a five-furlong work on July 13.
Woolley is contemplating a change in his travel schedule to Mountaineer in Chester, W.Va. Originally, the trainer wanted to have two works over the track there, and it could still happen.
“I may ship up later and have just one breeze there,” Woolley said. “The Bird doesn’t need to take his racetrack with him. He has run on that fast track at Sunland and the deep, sandy track at Belmont. He will still have a work on the 20th, the only question is where.”
After the West Virginia Derby, Woolley has targeted the $1 million Shadwell Travers Stakes (Grade I) at Saratoga on Aug. 29 where Mine That Bird possibly could meet up with Kentucky Oaks (GI) and Preakness (Grade I) winner Rachel Alexandra, the outstanding 3-year-old filly who won last Saturday’s Grade I Mother Goose by a record 19 ¼ lengths in stakes-record time at Belmont Park. Mine That Bird fell a length short of catching Rachel Alexandra in the May 16 Preakness.
“If it happens, it would be a good thing for racing and that would be a great spot to do it,” Woolley said. “Let’s just see where things fall.”
An hour before he worked Mine That Bird, Borel sent Northern Dancer (GIII) runner-up Warrior’s Reward through a five-furlong work in 1:00.20, the fastest of 23 at the distance.
Warrior’s Reward covered the distance in fractional times of 12:80, :24.80, :36.60 and :48.40 and galloped out six furlongs in a brisk 1:12.80. The colt’s gallop-out clocking was a full second faster than any of three works at the distance.
Trained by Ian Wilkes for A. Stevens Miles Jr., Warrior’s Reward is scheduled to leave Tuesday for Belmont Park and a start in Saturday’s $200,000 Dwyer (Grade II) in which a good effort could put the son of Medaglia d’Oro on track for a possible Travers run.