The owners of Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird stopped by
the gelding's barn at Churchill Downs for a quick visit before
heading to New York for Belmont Stakes week.
Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach also met with trainer Chip
Woolley a day before Mine That Bird's final workout in preparation
for Saturday's 1½-mile Belmont.
"It looks like he has put on a little weight," Allen said
Sunday after seeing Mine That Bird for the first time since the
gelding ran second in the Preakness Stakes on May 16. "For as hard
as he has run and the shipping, I am real happy with the way he
While the owners were New York-bound, Woolley leaves for the
city Tuesday, with Mine That Bird scheduled to be shipped via plane
- not trailer - on Wednesday.
Mine That Bird, with regular exercise rider Charlie Figueroa up,
galloped 1½ miles Sunday.
"He was a little more into the bit today," Woolley said.
"That should set him up for his breeze tomorrow. He'll work a
half-mile and gallop an eighth past the wire with Calvin (Borel) on
BELMONT FIELD MAY BE NINE: A field of 10 3-year-olds is shaping
up for the 141st running of the Belmont, although trainer Nick Zito
has indicated that one of his three possible starts - Nowhere to
Hide - may not make the race.
The nine all-but-definites are Kentucky Derby winner and
Preakness runner-up Mine The Bird, Flying Private (19th in the
Derby, fourth in the Preakness); Derby runners Chocolate Candy
(fifth); Summer Bird (sixth); Dunkirk (11th); and Mr. Hot Stuff;
Preakness runner Luv Gov (eighth); and Brave Victory, Charitable
Man and Miner's Escape.
A LITTLE OR A LOT?: The largest Belmont field was 15 in 1983,
when Caveat defeated Slew o' Gold. Next were 14-horse fields in
1875 (Calvin beat Aristides) and in 1996 (Editor's Note beat Skip
Away). ... There's never been a walkover, but there were five
two-horse fields, in 1887, 1888, 1892, 1910 and 1920 (Man o'War).
TOP CONTENDERS WORK AT BELMONT: Peter Pan Stakes winner
Charitable Man and Kentucky Derby also-ran Dunkirk posted final
workouts Sunday before taking on Derby winner Mine That Bird in
Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
Charitable Man covered a half mile in 49.00 seconds under
exercise rider Renzo Morales, not long after Dunkirk went the same
distance in 49.57 under jockey John Velazquez.
Mine That Bird may be the favorite, but Charitable Man and
Dunkirk could be the top challengers.
A son of 1999 Belmont winner Lemon Drop Kid, Charitable Man
missed the Derby and the Preakness after finishing seventh in the
Blue Grass Stakes on April 11.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who won the 2006 Belmont with Jazil,
says Charitable Man is ready to win.
"We feel we've got the horse to beat," McLaughlin said Sunday.
"Mine That Bird we have a lot of respect for, Dunkirk, and other
horses, but I wouldn't trade places with anyone."
Dunkirk, purchased for $3.7 million, is looking to rebound from
an 11th-place Derby finish after winning two races and finishing
second in the Florida Derby in his first three starts.
"I feel he's a top-quality horse, and has run well in three of
his four races," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "The Derby, to me, I
have to put a line through that race. I felt he didn't handle the
surface at all in that race."
LOOKING FOR AN UPSET? Biggest one happened in 2002, when Sarava
(Edgar Prado aboard) won at odds of 70-1 and paid $142.50 on a $2
PEOPLE WATCH: Largest crowd was 120,139 in 2004, when Derby and
Preakness winner Smarty Jones was beaten in the final strides by
Birdstone (36-1). ... In 2005, a new policy was put in place
banning alcohol from being brought into the track by patrons.
However, the fourth largest crowd showed up last year - 94,476 - to
watch Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown fail in his Triple Crown