MINE THAT BIRD WORKS THREE FURLONGS IN :35.20 – Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine’s 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird worked three furlongs in :35.20 with Dominic Terry in the saddle.
Now trained by D. Wayne Lukas, Mine That Bird was on the track shortly after 6:15 Wednesday morning and rolled through fractions of :12, :23.40 and galloped out a half-mile in :49.60. It was the first work of the year for Mine That Bird, who has not run since finishing ninth behind Zenyatta in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Classic (GI) at Santa Anita.
Mine That Bird arrived at Churchill Downs last Thursday night after spending the winter at Mark Allen’s Double Eagle Ranch in Roswell, N.M. The 4-year-old gelding jogged Friday morning and had galloped the next four mornings prior to the work
“The good ones do it easy,” Lukas said. “I just wanted him to get a little more interested today. Dominic did not know if he changed leads because he moves so fluidly.”
Mine That Bird resumed morning gallops in mid-March at the ranch.
“He had a good foundation from galloping 60 days on a dry, deep racetrack and at altitude,” Lukas said. “He is a lot more fit than some people would think. We have been asking him to do a little more each morning and what he did this morning was nothing more than what he had been doing. He didn’t take a deep breath coming back. I couldn’t be happier with him.”
TRAINING AT CHURCHILL DOWNS INTERRUPTED WHEN MYSTERIOUS HOLE FORMS IN MAIN TRACK – Training at Churchill Downs was interrupted for nearly two hours Wednesday following the discovery of a hole that suddenly formed on the backstretch of the main track near the far turn.
The track was closed immediately when the hole was discovered shortly after 6:30 a.m. (all times EDT). The hole was located on the outer third of the track near the half-mile pole and the entry into the far turn. Track Superintendant Butch Lehr said the hole measured eight to 10 inches across and was about two feet deep.
The hole was filled with the sandy loam material that makes up the base of the one-mile oval and topped with the dirt that covers the entire racing surface. Training resumed at 8:45 a.m. and the session was extended about 15 minutes past its regular 10 a.m. close to allow as many horses as possible to make up for lost time.
No horses stepped in the hole during the short time between its rapid formation and the closing of the track.
Lehr, a 43-year veteran in the post of track superintendant at the home of the Kentucky Derby, is confident that the repairs made by his track maintenance team have taken care of the issue. But he does not know at this point what led to the sudden formation of the hole.
“I’ve never seen anything like during all my time here,” said Lehr.
Track safety specialist Dr. Mick Peterson of the University of Maine will bring his ground-penetrating radar to the track on Friday for a thorough scan of the racing surface and track base. A similar scan conducted just before the 2009 Kentucky Derby revealed no problems or reason for concern regarding the track surface or base.
Lehr is unsure what might have led to the formation of the unusual hole, but does not expect to find any problems with the track base or surface.
“We repaired it and we’re going to watch it,” Lehr said. “It was about two feet deep, but we put everything back and tamped it real good. You couldn’t even tell where it had been when we got finished. We’re going to watch it real close. I did some grading on it today, and I believe we took care of the problem. But we want to take a close look at the track when Mick Peterson gets here with his sonar.”
The track’s regular four-hour training session is scheduled to begin at 6 a.m. on Thursday, and Spring Meet racing will resume with a nine-race afternoon program with first race post time set for 12:45 p.m.
BOREL COULD RETURN THURSDAY – Leading rider Calvin Borel, sidelined since May 16 with an eye infection, may return to the races Thursday.
“He is out of the hospital,” agent Jerry Hissam said. “He is at home and he has a little tube for drainage. If the tube comes out today, he will probably ride tomorrow. If not, then Friday. It is just wait and see.”
Borel, who never has won a Spring Meet riding title, holds a 22-15 lead over Shaun Bridgmohan after the first 18 days of the 42-day meet. Borel is named on five mounts Thursday.
Borel, who has won three of the past four Kentucky Derbies, has 995 victories at Churchill Downs, second only to Pat Day’s 2,482.
WORK TAB – Arson Squad, winner of the Alysheba (GIII) in his most recent start, worked six furlongs in preparation for an expected start in the $600,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI) to be run June 12. … Two-time graded stakes winner Hot Dixie Chick, expected to take on older fillies and mares in Monday’s Winning Colors (GIII), worked a half-mile in :49.80.