09/01/2010 2:46PM

Maragh will ride Mine That Bird in Woodward

Tom Keyser
Rajiv Maragh will ride Mine That Bird in the Woodward instead of Calvin Borel.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – It will be blinkers on and Calvin Borel off Mine That Bird when the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner takes on Quality Road and five others in Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga.

Rajiv Maragh, who has worked Mine That Bird the last two weeks, will be aboard him Saturday from post 2. Quality Road, beaten a head by Blame in the Whitney at 1-2 odds here Aug. 7, drew post 3 and will be ridden by John Velazquez. As the conditions of the Woodward are weight for age, all horses will carry 126 pounds.

Mine That Bird is still seeking his first win since his upset score under Borel at odds of 50-1 in last year’s Derby. In May, owners Leonard Blach and Mark Allen moved the horse from Chip Woolley to D. Wayne Lukas. After a failed experiment on the turf, Mine That Bird ran in the Grade 1 Whitney, finishing 12 1/2 lengths behind Blame.

Lukas felt the horse could have been closer to the early pace than he was in the Whitney.

Lukas said that Blach and Allen were involved in making the decision to change jockeys.

“They were a little disappointed being so far back in those fractions early, knowing it was a speed-favoring race and knowing those horses weren’t going to come back,” said Lukas, who celebrated his 75th birthday Thursday. “We were even way behind Blame, so we feel like we had to make a change. That’s not to say this is a permanent deal.”

This is the second time Borel has been taken off Mine That Bird. Borel chose to ride Rachel Alexandra over Mine That Bird in the Preakness, but got back on him for the Belmont. He was taken off Mine That Bird in favor of Mike Smith for the West Virginia Derby before reuniting with the gelding for his last four starts.

“I hate to lose him,” Borel said Wednesday. “I wish he had been there for me a little more in that race. I’d like to get one more chance. Let them do what they want, they’ll come back around.”

Since the Whitney, Lukas has trained Mine That Bird in blinkers and believes they have kept him more focused.

“It’s an experiment, obviously, but I like what I’ve seen,” Lukas said. “He’s had his last two works in them; he’s galloping in them everyday. I think he’s a little bit more forward.”

Quality Road will once again be a short price in the Woodward, which does not have a horse the caliber of Blame in the field. Trainer Todd Pletcher said he doesn’t approach the Woodward any differently than he would have had Quality Road won the Whitney.

“The nature of the game is you win, you lose, you got to regroup and try again no matter what,” Pletcher said.

Mythical Power, trained by Bob Baffert, could be the second choice in the Woodward. He is 2 for 5 on dirt, including wins in the Lone Star Derby at 3 and the Texas Mile earlier this year. Garrett Gomez will ride from post 7.

Recent allowance winners Arcodoro and Convocation as well as Indian Dance, a stakes winner in Maryland, and Tranquil Manner complete the field.

The Woodward will go as race 10 on an 11-race card that also includes the Grade 1 Forego for sprinters as well as two overnight stakes.