BALTIMORE, 05-12-09 – Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird arrived at Pimlico ahead of schedule Tuesday with a Baltimore City Police escort at 6:44 p.m. after leaving Churchill Downs at 9:06.a.m.
“I called a friend on the way and said it’s the first time I’ve had the police leading me instead of chasing me,” quipped Woolley, who drove all the way in the Ford F-450 Lariat that towed the gleaming white van carrying his Kentucky Derby winner.
The New Mexico-based trainer, who saddled Mine That Bird for a stunning 50-1 upset by nearly seven lengths in the Run for the Roses on May 2, reported that the van ride when “as smooth as silk” for the son of Birdstone, who will return to action in Saturday’s 134th running of the Preakness Stakes.
“He was calm all the way; ate his feed, cleaned up good; drank all his water,” said Woolley, a first-time visitor to Maryland
The 45-year-old trainer allowed Mine That Bird to pose for photographers and cameramen for 15 minutes outside the Pimlico Stakes Barn only minutes after arriving. The Kentucky-bred horse stood calmly, unfazed by the frantic chorus of clicking camera shutters. Woolley seemed as relaxed as his colt just 10 days after running off with the Derby and four days before an attempt to add the Preakness on his unlikely Triple Crown campaign.
“I’m having a lot of fun now,” Woolley said. “It took a little while after the Derby to sink in, but now I’m starting to really enjoy it.”
Mine That Bird will bedded down in Stall 40, the traditional stall reserved for the Kentucky Derby winner in the Preakness Stakes Barn.
(Woolley will meet with the media at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday)
General Quarters had an eventful journey that began at 5 a.m. from Churchill Downs and concluded an hour past schedule at 4:45 p.m. due to his van’s involvement in a minor traffic accident near Pimlico. Van driver Maurice Poe missed the stable gate and was heading for the entrance to Interstate 83 when his van was clipped on the driver’s side by another vehicle as he attempted to find his way back to Pimlico. Fortunately, Poe, groom Billy Bass, General Quarters and another unidentified thoroughbred passenger were uninjured.
“He’s fine,” said owner/trainer Tom McCarthy, who left the track to investigate. “I think I’m more upset than he is. There was hardly any damage to the van.”
“It was pretty scary,” Bass said. “But he held all right. It didn’t throw him around, just the feed.”
The D. Wayne Lukas-trained duo of Flying Private and Luv Gov arrived at Pimlico 40 minutes later following a less stressful van ride from Churchill Downs.
134th PREAKNESS STAKES CONTENDERS
Horse Trainer Jockey Record
Big Drama David Fawkes John Velazquez 7-5-1-1, $890,250
Flying Private D. Wayne Lukas Alan Garcia 11-1-4-0, $193,080
Friesan Fire Larry Jones Gabriel Saez 8-4-1-1, $603,265
General Quarters Tom McCarthy Julien Leparoux 12-3-3-1, $641,735
Luv Gov D. Wayne Lukas Jamie Theriot 10-1-3-1, $62,896
Mine That Bird Chip Woolley Mike Smith 9-5-1-0, $1,791,581
Musket Man Derek Ryan Eibar Coa 7-5-0-2, $772,600
Papa Clem Gary Stute Rafael Bejarano 7-2-2-0, $890,940
Pioneerof the Nile Bob Baffert Garrett Gomez 9-5-1-1, $1,634,200
Rachel Alexandra Steve Asmussen Calvin Borel 10-7-2-0, $958,354
Take the Points Todd Pletcher Edgar Prado 6-2-2-0, $156,190
Terrain Al Stall Jr. Jeremy Rose 8-3-1-1, $512,084
Tone It Down William Komlo Kent Desormeaux 6-2-2-1, $54,720