Last year's Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird, has just resumed training at his home base of Double Eagle Ranch in Roswell, N.M., and later this spring is expected to set up shop at Churchill Downs, trainer Chip Woolley said. It was at the Louisville, Ky., track last May that the horse closed from last to win the Kentucky Derby at 50-1.
Mine That Bird has not raced since the Breeders' Cup Classic, when he finished ninth in that Nov. 7 race run on a synthetic surface at Santa Anita. His long-term goal is another appearance in the BC Classic, which this year is being run at Churchill. Woolley said no time line has been set for Mine That Bird's return, nor has a specific comeback race been targeted by owners Dr. Leonard Blach of Buena Suerte Equine and Mark Allen of Double Eagle.
"Doc, Mark, and I have not conferred on our first out," Woolley said. "It just depends on when he gets ready to run. It would be nice to be ready for the Stephen Foster, but it's hard to say if he will be ready or not. He's been off for four months. It's hard to say what his first out will be."
The Grade 1, $600,000 Stephen Foster will be run at Churchill on June 12.
Woolley said Mine That Bird has just been jogging since he returned to training March 15. The plan is to bring him to Sunland Park, then move him to Churchill. The Sunland meet in New Mexico runs through through April 20, and Woolley has a division at the track. He said Churchill plans could include bringing a few other horses to Louisville, but nothing has been determined at this point.
"We'll see how it goes," Woolley said.
Woolley said Mine That Bird was given some time off to recover from a busy campaign last year in which he ran fourth in the Sunland Derby then went on to win the Kentucky Derby and finish second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont Stakes. Mine That Bird also was third in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby in August and a close sixth in the Grade 1 Goodwood in October.
"It's a grueling effort to go through what he went through," Woolley said of the Triple Crown.
"The horse was really tired by the end of the campaign, had lost some weight, and we wanted to give him the opportunity to get back to 100 percent."
Woolley said Mine That Bird would have a lighter campaign this year. The long-term goal, he said, is to race him for several more seasons. Mine That Bird is a gelding. He has won 5 of 14 starts and $2.1 million.