Bird’s owners check in on Derby winner

Latest update on Belmont favorite Mine That Bird, direct from the Churchill Downs publicity office:

OWNERS DROP IN TO CHECK OUT MINE THAT BIRD – Mine That Bird’s entourage grew a bit Sunday morning as Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach, the New Mexico-based co-owners of the Kentucky Derby (Grade I) winner, made a quick stop in Louisville en route to New York for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (GI).

“We’re leaving later today for New York so we can get settled in and ready for everything,” said Allen, who never has been to Belmont Park where Mine That Bird will try to take down the 1 -mile final jewel of the Triple Crown.

Sunday marked the first time Allen had seen Mine That Bird since the gelding’s runner-up finish to Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness Stakes (Grade I) on May 16.

“It looks like he has put on a little weight,” said Allen, whose first Belmont Stakes recollection was Secretariat’s 31-length romp in 1973 when he was 15 and grooming horses at Santa Fe. “For as hard as he has run and the shipping, I am real happy with the way he looks.”

With regular exercise rider Charlie Figueroa up, Allen led Mine That Bird to the track around 7:30 a.m. Figueroa backtracked Mine That Bird to the paddock runway and then galloped 1 miles.

“He was a little more into the bit today,” trainer Chip Woolley said. “That should set him up for his breeze tomorrow. He’ll work a half-mile and gallop an eighth past the wire with Calvin (Borel) on him right after the break..”

Woolley leaves for New York early Tuesday morning and Mine That Bird flies out the next day.

Also scheduled to work Monday is Rachel Alexandra, who went twice around the main track early Sunday morning with exercise rider Dominic Terry up.

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