Monday, August 24, 2009

Mine That Bird feisty three days after throat surgery


Three days after having surgery to repair an entrapped epiglottis, Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) winner Mine That Bird was back on the main track at Saratoga Race Course on Friday morning.

Given the okay after an endoscopic exam from Dr. James Hunt, Mine That Bird jogged twice the wrong way under exercise rider George Smith at about 7:15 a.m. EDT.

"The horse was playing and having a good time," trainer Bennie "Chip"
Woolley said. "He came off the track just firing and bouncing. He looked super."

Mine That Bird had surgery on Tuesday morning at the Ruffian Equine Medical Center across from Belmont Park. He returned that afternoon to the Clark Memorial Stakes Barn at Saratoga, which also houses Belmont Stakes (G1) winner Summer Bird.

"If you didn't know we had done the surgery—say you vetted this horse for a sale today—and somebody looked in there, they would say he has the perfect throat," Woolley said. "What more could you ask for?"

At about 8:45 on Friday morning, Woolley was on the phone with Mark Allen, who co-owns Mine That Bird with Dr. Leonard Bloch.

"I told Mark, I said, 'I know you're concerned, but you could not ask for your horse to be any better than he is right here, right now,' " Woolley said. "We'll monitor it every day. If we see the slightest indication that the horse is not right, he will not run.

"On the racetrack this morning, he was full of himself, bucking and jumping and playing, and he came off the track with his head up, dancing and firing off the ground. My recommendation to him was to run as long as we don't see a change."

Woolley plans to bring Mine That Bird to the track on Saturday and Sunday, gallop him on Monday pending another scope, then work him on Tuesday morning prior to the $1-million Shadwell Travers Stakes (G1) on August 29.

"As long as things go according to Hoyle, we're aiming for being in the Travers," he said. "I told Mark a million times, 'I'd be the first one to pull the plug if he isn't right.' I'm not going to run him if he's not 100%. I won't run him if he's 95%. We'll see what happens."

In his previous start, Mine That Bird was third in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (G2) at Mountaineer Park behind longshot Soul Warrior in his first start following the grueling Triple Crown series.

"The horse could feasibly be better right now than he was when we ran him in the West Virginia Derby," Woolley said. "I just don't think you could ask to have a horse any better than he is today, and any more prepared for a big race than he is."