Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird is in
need of yet another jockey.
Mike Smith, who rode the gelding to a second-place finish in
Saturday's Preakness Stakes, won't ride him in the Belmont Stakes
on June 6 because of a previous commitment.
Smith is already set to ride Madeo in the $300,000 Charles
Whittingham Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park that day.
The Hall of Fame rider is sticking with Madeo out of his loyalty
to owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs. Together,
they won the 2005 Kentucky Derby on Giacomo, who like Mine That
Bird, was a 50-1 long shot.
"It was something that was already done beforehand and it's not
going to change," Smith told The Associated Press by phone on
Monday. "They're my No. 1 and no one else. It would've been nice
if the timing was different, but I have no regrets whatsoever."
That means Calvin Borel, who rode Mine That Bird to a stunning
victory in the Derby, could get back on him for the Belmont if
Rachel Alexandra doesn't run.
Borel opted to ride Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, and she
became the first filly in 85 years to win the second leg of the
Triple Crown. Co-owner Jess Jackson has not yet decided if she will
run in the 1½-mile Belmont.
"There's never been a situation like this in history. This is
wild," Smith said, referring to the multiple jockey changes.
"This has nothing to do with respect for the horse. I think
everyone knows he's for real. It's just the way it is."
Brad Pegram, Smith's agent, told Chip Woolley Jr., who trains
Mine That Bird, of the jockey's decision on Monday. Woolley had
been planning to use Smith in the Belmont, regardless of whether
Rachel Alexandra runs.
Smith said he'll be rooting long-distance for Mine That Bird on
"I admire that little horse so much," he said. "Calvin and I
would probably argue who is his biggest fan. We're both big fans."