It’s wait and see on Mine That Bird running in the Travers

Considering everything went as planned during Mine That Bird’s workout on Tuesday, the mood was a li

Considering everything went as planned during Mine That Bird’s workout on Tuesday, the mood was a little less than sunny back at the Clark Stakes Barn.

That’s because trainer Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr. and the Kentucky Derby winner’s owners still face the possibility that they’ll scratch out of the $1 million Travers Stakes on Saturday, the jewel of the Sar­atoga Race Course’s 141st season.

Mine That Bird had his first breeze since getting back from New York, where he had surgery last Tuesday to correct an entrapped epiglottis.

At 8 a.m., he went four furlongs in 49.76 on the fast main track, and galloped out another furlong in 1:014⁄5 and three-quarters of a mile in 1:144⁄5. Rider Jamie Theriot slapped Mine That Bird once on the shoulder past the wire to keep him busy during the gallop-out.

Dr. James Hunt performed an end­oscopic exam after the workout, and Mine That Bird checked out clean, but they’ll scope him again this morning to see if the workout caused any soreness in the area of the surgery.

If anything is remotely amiss, they’ll skip the Travers and head back to New Mexico, with the Breeders’ Cup Classic as the next target.

“He looked really strong, and was striding right out past the wire,” Woolley said. “That part, I have no problem with, but we’ve got to take care of him first. If there’s any doubt at all, we won’t run. I’ll tell you all in the morning.”

The Travers field will be drawn at 11 this morning in the paddock.

Owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach arrived at 7:45 on Tuesday, and watched the workout.

Mine That Bird opened with a 252⁄5 quarter-mile, then picked it up in the second quarter to simulate the closing run he used to win the Kentucky Derby and draw within a length of Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness.

Woolley wanted to see a strong gallop past the wire, so Theriot gave him a tap on the shoulder, and Mine That Bird answered.

“He rebroke, is what he did,” Woolley said. “We wanted to see how he’d respond, and he bounced right into it and looked pretty sharp. You want to replicate your race plan, so he was picking it up every step to the wire.

“It was pretty much what we were looking for. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Still, they won’t be able to give the final thumbs-up on the Travers until this morning.

“As of today, the horse looks good,” Woolley said. “If anything’s irritated in there tomorrow, we’ll call it a no. We’ll just have to look at him in the morning, and either he is, or he isn’t.

“If he irritated his throat today, we’ll see tomorrow. It’s just that simple. We’re not going to take a chance. This was the first time we put the hammer down and let him stress it. He’s too important to us and the racing community to take any chances.”

If Mine That Bird doesn’t run in the Travers, Woolley said he wouldn’t run in the Pennsylvania Derby or Super Derby, and would look at the nine-furlong Goodwood against older horses at the Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita on Oct. 10 as a Breeders’ Cup prep.

“I haven’t had much sleep since the surgery. All you can do is wait and see,” Woolley said.

Hold Me Back, who is also pointed toward the Travers, worked five furlongs in 1:00.45 for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, the eighth fastest of 33 works on the main track.

The Grade II Lane’s End winner is coming off a fifth in the Virginia Derby. He was 12th in the Kentucky Derby.

Categories: Sports

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