Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Borel: 'We're Going to Win' Belmont Stakes


An exuberant Calvin Borel expressed confidence that Mine That Bird will win the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) after working the diminutive gelding a half-mile in :50 on a warm, sunny June 1 morning at Churchill Downs.

“Perfect,” said Borel, who won the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) with the son of Birdstone trained by Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr. for owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach. “He’s ready. We’re going to win. No questions asked.”

The boast by the hard-working, likable Borel was similar to the one he made previous to winning the BlackBerry Preakness Stakes (gr. I) with Rachel Alexandra, with Mine That Bird finishing second with jockey Mike Smith in the saddle. Borel was freed up to ride Mine That Bird in the Belmont after owners Jess Jackson and Harold McCormick announced May 29 that the filly would bypass the third leg of the Triple Crown. Although her next start has not been announced, Rachel Alexandra also worked at Churchill June 1, getting five furlongs in 1:01 3/5.

Churchill clockers timed Mine That Bird, who was wearing his yellow Kentucky Derby saddle cloth when he to the track following the routine maintenance break, in fractional splits of :13 4/5, :26 3/5, and :38 2/5. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:02 1/5 and was ridden out six furlongs in 1:15.

“I didn’t go fast, but he didn’t need to go fast,” Borel said of the workout. “He gets more from galloping than he does from a work. He did everything the same, just like before the Derby.”

Borel, who departed immediately after the workout to fly to New York for a taping of the “David Letterman Show” that will air Friday, June 5, explained that Mine That Bird is not showing any of the signs of weariness displayed by horses who have had tough races such as the Derby and Preakness.

“After trying the Derby and (Preakness) they don’t come back bouncing like that,” Borel said. “That don’t happen too often. They come back a little tired. He’s bouncing right now. He’s a happy camper right now. He’s just getting better. Winning the Derby and the way he run the last time, he’s got more confidence. He will love the distance.”

Borel said he believes one reason the Derby and Preakness did not take much out of Mine That Bird is his patented late running style. “They might go a mile and a half, but he is going to gallop the first mile and only run the last three-eighths (of a mile).”

Woolley said he was pleased with the workout, noting that he wanted a half-mile in about :49 2/5. “He galloped out real strong,” the trainer said. “He looked real sharp to me.”