09/21/2009 1:00PM

Bird Watch


Bird at work

This just in from trainer Chip Woolley:  Mine That Bird will work today (Monday) at around 3 p.m. (MDT), at the Downs at Albuquerque, located on the New Mexico State Fairgrounds. (Mine That Bird will share the card with nine races for a mixture of Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses.)

Woolley says Mine That Bird will walk Tuesday, gallop Wednesday and Thursday, then buckle up for the van ride to California Thursday afternoon. "I'd like to get to Santa Anita around 2 a.m. Friday morning," Woolley said. "That way we'll beat the traffic."

Good man. He's already thinking like a Los Angeleno. Mine That Bird's arrival will put him in town eight days and one work before his scheduled start in the $350,000 Goodwood Handicap, Saturday, Oct. 10. The Oak Tree meet opens Sept. 30.

(Mine That Bird and Charlie Figueroa at Ruidoso)


THURSDAY, SEPT. 24, 6 p.m. (PDT) -- Chip Woolley, Charlie Figueroa and Mine That Bird hit the road at around 2 p.m. (MDT), leaving Albuquerque and heading west on I-40. For those who have never driven the modern bypass of Old Route 66, you wing past towns like Grants, Prewitt and Manuelito on the New Mexico side, and then Holbrook, Joseph City and Winslow through eastern Arizona--all towns that used to be pit stops along the Mother Road. When I reached Woolley a little past 6 p.m., California time, he was bearing down on Flagstaff, driving his Ford F-450, pulling Bird in his Turnbow trailer, dead into the setting sun. Unsuspecting citizens of Arizona's third largest town would have been shocked--shocked!--to find out that the Kentucky Derby was briefly in their midst.

"It's real nice, real pretty around here," Woolley said. "Bird's been fine. No problems. Making okay time."

I asked Woolley when he was going to get spelled behind the wheel.

"Nobody drives but me," he said.