MINE THAT BIRD WORKS SIX FURLONGS IN 1:13 – Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s Mine That Bird continued to work toward his first start of 2010 by breezing six furlongs in company in 1:13 over a fast Churchill Downs track on Tuesday morning.

With jockey Calvin Borel up, Mine That Bird worked after the renovation break in company with the 3-year-old Bird Empire for the second consecutive week. The 2009 Kentucky Derby winner spotted Bird Empire two lengths when breaking off at the three-quarter pole and tracked his workmate to the top of the stretch where he easily dispatched his company on the inside and finished five lengths in front.

Churchill Downs clockers caught Mine That Bird in fractions of :12.80, :25, :37.60, :49.60 and galloping out seven furlongs in 1:27.20. Bird Empire was given a clocking of 1:14.40 time for his six-furlong effort.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas was all smiles after the work, the fifth for Mine That Bird since joining the Lukas barn on May 20.

“When they started training horses 300 years ago, this is what they had in mind,” Lukas said. “His last quarter was in 23 and 2 and his last eighth, it had to be 11 and change. He was flying.”

There is an allowance optional claiming race in the condition book for which Mine That Bird fits for July 3 and Lukas also has nominated Mine That Bird to the Firecracker Handicap (GII) on grass for closing day, July 4. Lukas has not committed to a start in either spot.

“I am not sure where we’ll go,” Lukas said. “He is nominated to the ($250,000) Salvatore Mile (GIII at a mile on July 3 at Monmouth), which is a nice option. He is nominated to everything but the Tokyo Fair. Our goal is the Whitney (Handicap, GI on Aug. 7 at Saratoga). We are going to dive right into the deep end.”

LOCUST GROVE ATTRACTS 47 NOMINEES INCLUDING MINT JULEP TOP THREE – The top three finishers from the June 5 Early Times Mint Julep Handicap (GIII) – Hot Cha Cha, Acoma and Keertana – headline a list of 47 fillies and mares nominated to the 29th running of the $100,000-added Locust Grove Handicap (GIII) to be run at a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course on July 3.

The top three finished within three-quarters of a length of each other with Acoma carrying 122 pounds and Hot Cha Cha and Keertana 120. Weights for the Locust Grove will be announced Saturday.

Closeout won the 2009 Locust Grove, and the 5-year-old mare is nominated to this year’s renewal. Should Closeout win, she would join Colstar (2000-01) as the only repeat winner of the Locust Grove.

The Locust Grove is one of three graded stakes on the closing weekend of the 42-day meet. Sharing top billing with Locust Grove on July 3 is the 109th running of the $100,000-added Bashford Manor (GIII) for 2-year-olds going six furlongs.

Headlining the list of 22 nominees for the Bashford Manor is Dogwood Stable’s Lou Brissie, winner of the Kentucky Juvenile (GIII) here on April 30. Trained by Neil Howard, Lou Brissie is undefeated in two starts.
Entries for the Bashford Manor, as well as the Locust Grove, will be taken next Wednesday.

The closing-day feature is the 20th running of the $175,000-added Firecracker Handicap (GII) at a mile on the Matt Winn Turf Course. Thirty horses were nominated to the Firecracker, won last year by Mr. Sidney.

Topping the nominations are Don Benge’s Wise River, winner of the Dallas Turf Cup Handicap on May 31 at Lone Star Park in his most recent start, and Michael Cooper and Pamela Ziebarth’s Tizdejavu, a two-time graded stakes winner on the turf at Churchill Downs and winner of the Opening Verse here on June 11.

Weights for the Firecracker will be announced Sunday and entries will be taken Thursday, July 1.

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