Big Drama Confirmed While Racing Office Fields Call From Europe
BALTIMORE, MD 05-04-09---Trainer Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr. informed Maryland Jockey Club officials that Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird will run in the $1 million Preakness® Stakesat historic Pimlico Race Course on May 16. The surprise winner of Saturday’s “Run for the Roses” will leave Louisville next Monday or Tuesday morning by van and upon arrival will be stabled in Stall 40, reserved for the Kentucky Derby winner, in the Pimlico stakes barn.
“It is good for the sport,” Woolley said. “You cannot have a Triple Crown winner without having the Derby winner in the Preakness. That played into our decision but the horse looks super. I have never been to Baltimore, but it looks like I won’t be able to say that in a few days.”
With owners Mark Allen of Double Eagle Ranch and Dr. Leonard Blach of Buena Suerte Equine on hand, Mine That Bird went to the Churchill Downs track at 6:40 this morning and jogged a mile on a sloppy surface with exercise rider Charlie Figueroa up.
“He was just bucking and playing out there,” Figueroa said. “The outriders were surprised to see that yellow (Derby) saddle towel come jogging by.”
Woolley had said Sunday he wanted to see how Mine That Bird came out of the race before committing to the Preakness and a possible run toward the Triple Crown.
“I jogged him when we first got here on the road out here (by Barn 42) when we got here yesterday and he looked good,” Woolley said, “but I like to reserve my judgment until the second day when they are on the track. Today I just want him to get the kinks out. It will be two rounds a day. I might walk him one day, maybe the day we ship, but he will have no breezes before the Preakness.”
Mine That Bird gave jockey Calvin Borel his second Kentucky Derby victory and Woolley lauded the popular rider’s effort on Saturday.
“Calvin has given two of the greatest rides in Kentucky Derby history,” Woolley said of Saturday’s score and his near-identical run two years ago with Street Sense. “To come from last and go by 18 head, that’s just incredible.”
Trainer David Fawkes announced this morning that Big Drama is a confirmed shooter for Maryland’s signature race. The son of Montbrook worked six furlongs in 1:14 at Calder Race Course this morning. The Delta Jackpot winner will leave south Florida tomorrow morning and arrive at Pimlico the following morning. Big Drama is five-for-seven lifetime. In his lone three-year-old start he finished first in the Grade II Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park but was disqualified and placed second after bumping This Ones for Phil in the stretch.
“We are ready to roll,” Fawkes said. “I was real happy with the breeze. He went home in 23 and 2. He is the kind of horse where you can put him anywhere you want. He can sit off the lead and he has a huge turn of foot. When you push the gas pedal, he goes. He really should be undefeated. The only time we got beat to the wire (in his debut last July) was rider error.”
Fawkes expects to breeze Big Drama at Pimlico next Monday, May 11.
“When you watch the Derby and see a 50-1 shot win, it can only help the Preakness,” added Fawkes. “There might be some trainers who may not have thought their horses had Triple Crown abilities but now might take a chance.”
The third confirmed starter for the middle jewel of racing’s Triple Crown is Papa Clem, who finished fourth in Saturday’s Derby for trainer Gary Stute. The son of Smart Strike, who won the Arkansas Derby in his previous start, is scheduled to arrive at the Pimlico stakes barn next Wednesday, May 13.
Other horses under consideration from the Kentucky Derby are runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, third place finisher Musket Man, Join in the Dance (7th), General Quarters (10th) and betting favorite Friesan Fire (18th).
In addition to Big Drama other potential new shooters are Mr. Fantasy (Withers winner), Take the Points (fourth, Santa Anita Derby), Miner’s Escape (Tesio winner), Conservative (second, Lexington) and Sky Gate.
Agent Jamie McCalmont contacted Pimlico stakes coordinator Coley Blind about Sky Gate, the J. Paul Reddam owned son of Arch, who has not run since breaking his maiden on December 19, 2008 at Southwell Racecourse in the United Kingdom.
The Preakness is limited to 14 starters. Fourteen of the last 17 years have seen double-digit starters.