06/30/2009 11:00PM

Borel may jump off Mine That Bird

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Calvin Borel breezes Mine That Bird an easy half-mile on Monday at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A potential conflict could lead to jockey Calvin Borel snubbing his Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird once again.

Borel is tentatively scheduled to ride Mine That Bird in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park on Aug. 1, but there is a possibility Borel could vacate the mount in favor of Warrior's Reward, a promising 3-year-old who runs Saturday in the $200,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park.

Ian Wilkes, trainer of Warrior's Reward, said he has received a two-race commitment from Borel and his agent, Jerry Hissam, for the Dwyer and the $500,000 Jim Dandy on Aug. 1 at Saratoga. Hissam said Tuesday he had no comment.

Borel, widely credited for a sensational ride in guiding Mine That Bird to his 50-1 upset in the May 2 Kentucky Derby, got off the gelding to ride Rachel Alexandra two weeks later in the Preakness. Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness, while Mine That Bird, ridden by Mike Smith, rallied to be second.

Borel then got the mount back on Mine That Bird for the June 6 Belmont Stakes. Mine That Bird, the 5-4 favorite, made a bold move at the top of the stretch before fading to third behind Summer Bird and Dunkirk.

Chip Woolley, trainer of Mine That Bird, has been planning on Borel riding his stable star in the West Virginia Derby, and even had Borel breeze the gelding an easy half-mile Monday morning at Churchill Downs.

Woolley said Tuesday morning at Churchill that he had not yet heard from Hissam or Borel about the Aug. 1 situation but that he intended to ask for a firm commitment, one way or another, "probably in the next day or two."

Woolley said he was "okay with Calvin getting on Rachel Alexandra for the Preakness because I really felt in my heart she wasn't going to run, but she did, so we went along with it. This deal here's a little different, though."

Warrior's Reward, a Medaglia d'Oro colt owned by A. Stevens Miles, has won 2 of 5 starts and most recently finished a close second in the Grade 3 Northern Dancer Stakes on the June 13 Stephen Foster undercard at Churchill. In his previous race, Warrior's Reward earned a 113 Beyer Speed Figure in winning a May 1 allowance at Churchill.

Borel rides frequently for Wilkes, the longtime protege and business associate of trainer Carl Nafzger, for whom Borel won the 2007 Derby aboard Street Sense. Wilkes trains a large stable and therefore is the source of far more business for Borel than Woolley, whose stable is based in New Mexico.

Both the Jim Dandy and West Virginia Derby serve as preps for the $1 million Shadwell Travers Stakes, set for Aug. 29 at Saratoga. Mine That Bird and Warrior's Reward are both being pointed to the Travers.

Leparoux still atop rider standings

While Borel will miss the Saturday card at Churchill to ride in the Dwyer, he still stands a longshot's chance to catch Julien Leparoux for leading rider at the meet, which ends Sunday.

Leparoux, who takes a 61-53 lead over Borel into the final four-day stretch that begins Thursday night, will miss the final two programs. Leparoux will be at Arlington Park on Saturday to ride Informed Decision in the Chicago Handicap and will be at Hollywood Park on Sunday to ride Magical Affair in the American Oaks and Rebellion in the Triple Bend Handicap.

Leparoux extended his lead by winning four races Sunday, including the $51,780 allowance feature on St. Joe, a 4-year-old gelding who now has won three races in a row. St. Joe, trained by Darrin Miller, earned a 92 Beyer in his 3 1/2-length triumph Sunday.

Lukas seeks juvenile stakes sweep

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who won the Grade 3 Debutante Stakes here Saturday with the 2-year-old filly Decelerator, has two starters for the male counterpart, the Grade 3, $100,000 Bashford Manor on Friday at Churchill.

Lukas entered Soundman and Westrock Gold in the six-furlong Bashford Manor, which anchors an 11-race twilight card. Both colts won maiden races earlier in the meet.

In all, nine colts and geldings are entered in the 108th running of the Bashford Manor. The others are Backtalk, Brassy Boy, Even Wilder, Flatter Than Me, Grand Slam Andre, Mission Impazible, and Vito Fillito.

Lukas has now won the Debutante seven times and the Bashford Manor five times, both records. However, he has never won both in the same year. Steve Asmussen won both in 2007, marking the first such sweep since the jockey-turned-trainer Clyde Van Dusen (for whom the 1929 Derby-winning gelding was named) did it in 1926.

Six expected for Firecracker Handicap

Thorn Song and Mr. Sidney, both Grade 1 turf winners this spring, are the top prospects for the Saturday feature, the Grade 2, $150,000 Firecracker Handicap. Churchill racing officials are expecting about six other older horses for the one-mile turf race.

Thorn Song will tote high weight of 123 pounds, while Mr. Sidney and Tizdejavu will carry 120.

The closing-day feature on Sunday is the Grade 3, $100,000 Locust Grove Handicap, for which maybe six or seven fillies and mares are expected, although Acoma, assigned high weight of 122 pounds, is not one of them.

Entries for the Firecracker and Locust Grove were to be drawn Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Theriot returns following 30-day suspension

Jamie Theriot returned to riding Monday night at Indiana Downs with three off-the-board finishes. Theriot will ride the final four days at Churchill, starting with nine mounts on the 11-race Thursday night card.

Theriot was suspended 30 days, from May 30 to June 28, for his role in the May 23 spill at Arlington Park in which jockey Rene Douglas was critically injured.

Theriot had one of the best days of his 14-year career when riding six winners on the June 18, 2008, card at Churchill.

* Apprentice rider Stephanie Slinger will have the first three mounts of her career Thursday night at Churchill. Slinger, 22, has galloped horses for Hall of Fame trainers Lukas and Bobby Frankel in preparation for her new career. Her first mount is on Pish Posh in the second race.