No second guessing
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Trainer Bennie "Chip" Woolley held the lead shank while his Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird, got a bath from exercise rider/groom George Smith this morning at Saratoga's Clark Stakes Barn.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Woolley and co-owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach stood before the media to announce that Mine That Bird would miss the Travers, a race he had been pointing to for two months.
"It's hard missing a race like this, especially when your horse is training so well," Woolley said. "But doing what's best for the horse comes first, so that's what we'll do. There's more races down the road, as long as your horse is healthy. Push a bad thing and you might mess up his career."
A gelded son of Birdstone, Mine That Bird had surgery Aug. 18 to repair an entrapped epiglottis. Though the operation and recovery has been smooth, an enlarged spot on the horse's throat caused enough concern to skip the Travers and not subject him to the stress of a 1 1/4-mile race.
"It's just not something you want to take a chance on," Woolley said. "There's a good chance we could have run him and been fine, but that other chance is not worth taking, so we're just not going to do it."
For now, horse and trainer remain in Saratoga. Without a horse in the race, Woolley offered his thoughts:
On Tim Ice, trainer of Belmont winner Summer Bird, also stabled in the stakes barn: "We've become friends through this thing, so I'll always wish him the best. He's a good guy."
On a potential winner: "It's hard to say, but the horse maybe going in that might be the horse to beat, to me, in my mind, might be Charitable Man. That horse is pretty fresh, but he's had some racing now, whereas going into the Belmont, he had just the one race."