09/28/2009 12:00AM

Borel reuniting with Mine That Bird

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Barbara D. Livingston
Calvin Borel will be back on Mine That Bird for the Goodwood on Oct. 10.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Jockey Calvin Borel has been confirmed as Mine That Bird's rider for the $300,000 Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 10, trainer Chip Woolley said over the weekend.

The Grade 1 Goodwood, a major prep for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita on Nov. 7, will be the third time that Borel has ridden Mine That Bird this year. Borel was aboard Mine That Bird for a 50-1 upset in the Kentucky Derby on May 2 and a third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes on June 6.

Borel took off Mine That Bird to ride Rachel Alexandra to victory in the Preakness Stakes on May 16, a race in which Mine That Bird was a troubled second under Mike Smith. Smith later rode Mine That Bird to a third-place finish in the West Virginia Derby on Aug. 1, the gelding's most recent start.

For the Goodwood, Smith is engaged to ride Tiago, winner of the 2007 Goodwood and the third-place finisher in the 2008 Breeders' Cup Classic.

"We've always wanted Calvin on the horse," Woolley said. "Now his commitments are not conflicting with ours. It's a great opportunity."

Mine That Bird has been based in California since last Friday after spending most of September with Woolley's stables in New Mexico, at Ruidoso Downs and The Downs at Albuquerque.

Woolley said Sunday that Mine That Bird has taken well to Santa Anita's Pro-Ride synthetic surface.

"He had a little bit of spring in his step," Woolley said after Mine That Bird galloped.

Oak Tree overnight purses reduced

Overnight purses for the Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting that begins Wednesday will be approximately 10 percent to 12 percent lower than the start of the corresponding meeting in 2008.

Director of racing Mike Harlow called the reduction the result of "raw economics."

The purse cuts have affected all overnight races, including claiming, maiden, and allowance races. A maiden special weight race for 2-year-old filly sprinters will have a purse of $40,000, a drop of $4,000 from 2008. A first-condition optional claimer for 2-year-olds over six furlongs has a purse of $42,000, down $5,000 from last year. A six-furlong $25,000 claimer for fillies and mares is offered in mid-October for $22,000, a drop of $3,000.

With a six-week meeting, through Nov. 8, purses could always be increased if business beats expectations, though Harlow is not banking on that.

"It would be great if that was the situation, but I don't see that unless business turns around, which would be wonderful," he said. "Last meet was strong in terms of quality and quantity. If we can get near the last meet, I'll be happy."

Last year, the meeting had an average field size of nine starters per race, compared to 8.9 in 2007. The 2008 meeting featured the two-day Breeders' Cup, which will be run again at Santa Anita on Nov. 6-7. Those races typically draw large fields.

Regarding quality, Harlow is hoping for a boost from Eastern-based stables such as Todd Pletcher, who will have as many as 20 horses at this meeting; Christophe Clement (8 horses), and Godolphin Racing (12 horses).

Bejarano anxious for Oak Tree start

Del Mar is over for jockey Rafael Bejarano, and for the 27-year-old that is a huge relief. Hardly anything went right for Bejarano during the seven-week meeting near San Diego.

On opening day, Bejarano suffered facial injuries in a spill that kept him out of action for five weeks. When he returned, he injured his thumb and rode only a few races in the final days of the meeting. He finished with 6 wins from 26 mounts. In 2008, when Bejarano was the leading rider at Del Mar, he won 45 races.

Since Del Mar ended earlier this month, Bejarano has ridden sparingly but did manage a major stakes win in the Canadian Stakes aboard Princess Haya at Woodbine on Sept. 20.

For Wednesday's opening of the Oak Tree meeting, Bejarano has six mounts on the nine-race program, including Tiz West in the $100,000 Morvich Handicap on the hillside turf course.

The native of Peru said between workouts Sunday morning that he is anxious to return to riding regularly in Southern California.

"I'm ready for Wednesday," he said. "I had a lot of bad luck at Del Mar."

Bejarano wore a small brace on his right thumb over the weekend but said the hand is experiencing no discomfort.

"I wear it because I want to make sure," he said.

Bejarano won six consecutive riding titles at major meetings in southern California from 2008 until this spring. The streak ended when he finished second to Joel Rosario at this year's Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting. Rosario won the Del Mar title earlier this month.

Asked Sunday if winning the Oak Tree title was a goal this fall, he had a quick response.

"Definitely," he said.

Afleet Eagle, Excessive Blend retired

Del Mar stakes winners Afleet Eagle and Excessive Blend have been retired, their trainers said over the weekend.

Afleet Eagle, who won the Oceanside Stakes on July 22, suffered a bowed tendon during the Del Mar Derby on Sept. 6. Trainer Vladimir Cerin said there is no prospect for a comeback.

"He'll be a nice riding horse," Cerin said.

Owned by breeder Ron Waranch, Afleet Eagle, a 3-year-old gelding, won 3 of 5 starts and $118,847.

Excessive Blend, a 3-year-old filly, won two stakes at Del Mar - the Fleet Treat for statebred females over seven furlongs on July 25 and the Sandy Blue Handicap over a mile on turf for 3-year-old fillies on Aug. 21. An injury was detected shortly after the Sandy Blue, trainer Carla Gaines said.

Even though there is a chance that Excessive Blend could recover from the injury, Gaines said the filly will be bred early next year.

"It's a real long process," Gaines said. "You're chances are probably 50-50."

Owned by breeder Warren Williamson, Excessive Blend won 3 of 5 starts and $173,175.