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Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird headed for Preakness? Trainer Bennie Woolley says decision is coming

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — With a light rain falling Sunday morning at Churchill Downs, trainer Bennie Woolley found out what a Kentucky Derby win can do. He was showered with media attention at Barn 33 as Mine That Bird ate in his stall.

First question: "Are you going to run in the Preakness?"

"The owners will meet and have a little discussion," Woolley said. "(Preakness) really wasn't something that was on our radar, so we'll decide. We only do what's best for the horse; the horse has to come first. The Preakness tends to be a little bit more speed bias. The farther he goes, the better the horse is going to be — I'm dead sure on that."

If Mine That Bird passes on the Preakness on May 16 at Pimlico in Baltimore, Woolley said, the 1½-mile Belmont Stakes on June 6 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., will be the other option. It is a race that his sire, Birdstone, won in 2004, keeping Smarty Jones from the Triple Crown.

Woolley, 45, said Mine That Bird ($103.20), the second-largest upset winner in Derby history, came back "super." Because the horse is a gelding, he doesn't have a breeding career. Mine That Bird was bought for $9,500 by owners Double Eagle Ranch (Mark Allen) and Buena Suerte Equine (Leonard Blach).

Other Derby trainers were noncommittal concerning the Preakness.

Derek Ryan, whose Musket Man finished third, transported his colt to Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., on Sunday.

"He's 50-50," Ryan said. "We'll see how he does in the next couple of days." The Tampa Bay Derby and Illinois Derby winner might be pointed to the Haskell Invitational on Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park.

Ryan was happy with Musket Man's effort. "We certainly can't complain," he said. "We just missed second (by a nose). It was a fun week but a long one."

Thomas McCarthy, trainer of Sam F. Davis and Blue Grass Stakes winner General Quarters, said the future was uncertain. "I really don't know (about the Preakness)," he said. "There's several races down at Gulfstream Park (at Hallandale Beach) for him. We'll have to wait and see. He came back from the Derby in great shape but pretty dirty." General Quarters finished 10th.

Derby runnerup Pioneerof the Nile is uncertain for the Preakness. At least eight other Derby starters will not run.

Friesan Fire, the Derby favorite who came in 18th, sustained a cut on his left front hoof and is a no-go for the Preakness, along with Dunkirk, who has a left hind hoof issue.

Meanwhile, I Want Revenge appeared to be okay a day after being scratched from the Derby with an ankle injury.

Around the bay: Tampa Bay Downs ended its live thoroughbred meet Sunday. The Oldsmar facility had 10,144 fans for its Kentucky Derby simulcast card. Derby Lane, the St. Petersburg greyhound track, said it had a Derby simulcast record crowd of 6,128.

More thoroughbreds: Sapphire Sky remained unbeaten on a wet track, easily winning the $109,000 Bouwerie Stakes by 4¾ lengths at Belmont Park.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird headed for Preakness? Trainer Bennie Woolley says decision is coming 05/03/09 [Last modified: Sunday, May 3, 2009 10:20pm]

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