Jockey Jamie Theriot was in the saddle as the Chip Woolley-trained Birdstone gelding covered the distance over a fast track in :48.20. Churchill Downs clockers caught Mine That Bird in fractional times of :12.20, :24.80 and :36.80 and he galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.20. Mine That Bird’s work, which came just after the break for track maintenance, ranked as the fourth-fastest of 31 moves at the distance on the cool and sunny morning under the historic Twin Spires.
“He finished up well and he’s going into the race very well,” said Theriot. “You can’t ask for any better. I told Chip that he’s going into the race fantastic.”
Woolley said he had originally planned a relatively easy half-mile for Mine That Bird, but decided Sunday night that the Kentucky Derby winner might need something a bit stronger as he approaches his first race since a third-place run behind Summer Bird in the Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 6. Mine That Bird will work one final time prior to the West Virginia Derby next Monday at Mountaineer.
“The horse is going to be eight weeks between races, and I got to studying last night and told Jamie that I wanted him to start galloping out strong from the five-eighths and I want him really working when he hits the half-mile pole,” Woolley said. “I told Jamie if we’re going to be dead fit, we’re going to have to step it out and Jamie said he was just super-strong. So we ended up really getting almost a three-quarter mile work out of him. Now we can go to Mountaineer and no matter what the track’s like we can go soft over there. Instead of having to let him work hard over there, we can get real soft one and stretch out over the ground and get a feel for it.”
Woolley said shipping to Mountaineer and a different racing surface is a concern, but he’s confident that Mine That Bird will be able to handle the challenge.
“That scares you anywhere you go,” he said “That track (at Mountaineer) has a tendency to really be loose, but I do feel like if there’s a horse in the world that’s going to go over there and get over it easy and do it well, it’s him. He’s so light and gets over the ground so easy, it seems like he takes his racetrack with him anywhere he goes.”
The usually low-keyed Woolley admitted to excited about the prospect of seeing Mine That Bird return to competition for the first time since he burst onto the scene with his remarkable Triple Crown run that opened with his 50-1 upset in the “Run for the Roses” and also included a runner-up finish to Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness (GI).
“I’m ready to go back to running,” said Woolley. “It was enjoyable to be here the first month after the Belmont to just kind of relax and rest. It had been a pretty long run and with my broken leg it takes twice as much out of you. It gave me a chance to rest my leg and do a little healing, but now though I’m ready. I’m definitely ready to be rolling again and get back to running.”
With the final work at Churchill Downs now behind Mine That Bird, Woolley’s plans call for Mine That Bird to travel by van to Mountaineer on Friday, July 24. Woolley plans to depart Churchill Downs around 7 a.m. (EDT).