Chip Woolley Jr. sees the glass as half full for Mine That Bird in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Oak Tree on Nov. 7.
Detractors point to Mine That Bird’s disappointing sixth-place finish in the Grade I Goodwood Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on Oct. 10, and the fact that he is winless in four starts since his startling 50-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby on May 2. The Goodwood was Mine That Bird’s first race since Aug. 1, when he finished third in the West Virginia Derby.
“If you go back and look at the Goodwood, he runs a 99 Beyer (speed figure),” Woolley pointed out. “Last year when he ran over this race track (12th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile), he ran a 74 Beyer. Figure it any way you want, but that’s a huge difference in the two races.
“Up until I took the horse over, he had never run over a 79 Beyer, so changing his running style is the key. Even though he didn’t run as well as we’d hoped in the Goodwood, he runs a 99 Beyer, as opposed to running in the 70s every time before we changed his style.”
Mine That Bird ran much closer to the pace prior to his victory in the Derby. In that race, he rallied from 19th and last, 16 lengths behind at one point, to win by 6 3/4 lengths, the largest margin since Assault won by eight lengths in 1944, en route to a Triple Crown sweep for the legendary Calumet Farm.
“With the Goodwood in him, and the added distance, it’s really going to help him, and there’s definitely going to be pace in the Classic,” Woolley said.
In other Breeders’ Cup news:
Mine That Bird galloped two miles Sunday and is scheduled to work a half-mile Monday under jockey Joe Talamo.
Hollywood Gold Cup winner Rail Trip is scheduled to work six furlongs under exercise rider Jose Dominguez Tuesday on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track for the Classic. “He came off Del Mar with some feet issues,” trainer Ron Ellis said, “but we’re working through them.” In his most recent race, Rail Trip was third behind Richard’s Kid in the Pacific Classic on Sept. 6.
Santa Anita Derby runner-up Chocolate Candy, prepping for the $1 million Dirt Mile, and Oak Leaf Stakes winner Blind Luck, a contender for the $2 million Grey Goose Juvenile Fillies, each worked on Pro-Ride Sunday for Jerry Hollendorfer. Chocolate Candy went a half-mile in :48.80 under Joel Rosario, while Blind Luck went five furlongs in 1:01.80 with Tyler Baze aboard.
“He went real nice,” the trainer said of Chocolate Candy. “He finished off the last quarter in :23, so he went real good. Blind Luck did it nice and easy. We’ll have a little bit stronger work next week.”
Dirt Mile candidates Midshipman and Pyro each worked a half-mile on Pro-Ride Sunday for Godolphin Racing. Midshipman went four furlongs with Richard Migliore up in :50.20, while retired Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr. was on Pyro, who went five furlongs in 1:00.20. Cordero flew in from New York to work Pyro, and was en route back to the Big Apple Sunday afternoon.
“I’m very happy with the two works,” said Henry Spiller, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. “Midshipman galloped out strong, and they’re both on schedule.”
Morvich Handicap winner California Flag worked five furlongs on turf in a bullet 1:00.40 for trainer Brian Koriner.
KYLE KAENEL RETIRES DUE TO INJURIES SUFFERED IN SPILL
Jockey Kyle Kaenel has retired due to extensive injuries the 21-year-old Oceanside, N.Y., native suffered in a riding spill at Fairplex Park on Sept. 27.
“I have a broken (right) collarbone, a broken acromion, a broken shoulder blade, and a pinched nerve in my back, for which I have to see a spine surgeon on Wednesday,” said the tall and lanky Kaenel, son of legendary former rider Cowboy Jack Kaenel, who was the youngest jockey to win a Triple Crown race when he rode Aloma’s Ruler at the age of 16 in the 1982 Preakness Stakes.
“I already broke my neck and back in two places, and each time doctors have told me that’s it, as far as riding is concerned,” Kaenel continued. “I’ve got a family now, so I feel lucky if I can walk away from this one. I’ve got a beautiful wife (Trinity) and a beautiful little boy (Owen). I’ve got to take care of them.” The Kaenels reside in Glendora.
“It wouldn’t be fair to them for me to ask them to push me around in a wheelchair,” Kaenel said. “I rode for five years. It was a fun career, and I will miss it terribly.”
TRAINER-TURNED-AGENT GREENMAN HAS NEW APPRENTICE RIDER
Former trainer Dean Greenman has become a jockey agent and taken the book of newcomer Carlos Diaz, a seven-pound apprentice rider who is listed to make his Oak Tree debut on Il Foro for trainer Oscar Garcia in Wednesday’s fourth race.
“He came from the Laffit Pincay Jr. Jockey School in Panama,” said Greenman, son of the late trainer Walter Greenman. “Carlos won six races in Panama. I was having dinner with Laffit and a guy called him and told him a bug boy wanted to come here. Laffit turned to me and said, ‘If you want to become an agent, you’ve got him,’ and I took him.”
Diaz is 25 and tacks 105 pounds. “He’ll have his bug until almost Del Mar,” Greenman said. “He just got here two days ago, and he’ll be going to school three days a week to learn English.”
FINISH LINES: Veteran jockey Corey Nakatani took off his scheduled Oak Tree mounts Friday and Saturday . . . Probable for next Sunday’s $100,000 Grade III Harold C. Ramser Sr. Handicap for 3-year-old fillies at one mile on turf: Century Park, Tyler Baze; Minute Limit, Joel Rosario; Mrs Kipling, David Flores; Starlarks, Alex Solis; and Strawberry Tart, Mike Smith . . . Participants alive in Oak Tree’s online handicapping contest ShowVivor stood at 238 prior to Sunday’s races.