SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Reunited and it feels so good.
Calvin Borel, who guided Mine That Bird to his 50-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby, will be back aboard the gelding for his next two starts - the $350,000 Goodwood Stakes on Oct. 10 and the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7 - trainer Chip Woolley confirmed Monday morning.
"We're tickled," said Woolley, who trains Mine That Bird for owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach. "Things hadn't worked out where that was a possibility. ... It's a perfect situation for us. I think everybody among us is happy to have him back. Hopefully, it'll be the pairing we're looking for."
Borel climbed aboard Mine That Bird on Monday morning and guided him through a four-furlong workout in 51.16 seconds over Saratoga's main track
"I'm happy I'm back on him, and he worked really, really good," Borel said.
Borel took off Mine That Bird to ride Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, where the superstar filly beat Mine That Bird, with Mike Smith up, by one length. Borel was back aboard Mine That Bird for the Belmont Stakes but could only manage a third-place finish behind Summer Bird and Dunkirk, in a race where observers felt Borel may have moved prematurely.
Borel lost the mount on Mine That Bird for the Aug. 2 West Virginia Derby, which was the same day as the Jim Dandy, a race in which Borel rode Warrior's Reward to a second-place finish. Smith rode Mine That Bird to a third-place finish in the West Virginia Derby and afterward blamed himself for giving the gelding a bad ride. Smith would have ridden Mine That Bird in last Saturday's Travers, had the horse run.
Mine That Bird, who skipped the Travers after having undergone throat surgery 11 days prior, was scheduled to leave New York on Tuesday. After a one-night layover in El Paso, Texas, Mine That Bird was due to arrive in Ruidoso Downs on Wednesday.
Knowing he would miss training Tuesday and Wednesday, Woolley wanted to get a work into Mine That Bird before traveling. Daily Racing Form caught Mine That Bird in fractions of 13.73 seconds, 26.78, and got him galloping out five furlongs in 1:03.16.
"He breezed great," Woolley said. "The track was a little soft, so we didn't mash on him too much. At the sixteenth pole, the horse really dropped and gave it a go to the wire. That's all I really concentrate on with him - the last eighth of a mile - that's where all his hard running comes."
- additional reporting by Mike Welsch