08/17/2009 11:00PM

Mine That Bird fine after surgery

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mine That Bird, winner of the Kentucky Derby, underwent throat surgery Tuesday and is still being pointed for the Travers.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The surgery to repair Mine That Bird's entrapped epiglottis went as well as could be expected Tuesday, according to the gelding's trainer, Chip Woolley, who remains hopeful that he can get the Kentucky Derby winner to the $1 million Travers Stakes here on Aug. 29.

"Went excellent, we got it done," Woolley said around noon Tuesday. "Went back in, scoped the horse - it looked really, really good. If you looked in there you'd never know he was entrapped before. It's real clean. He went to eating, and acting normal as can be. I'm real happy."

Asked about the chances of making it to the Travers, Woolley said, "We're absolutely hopeful. The horse looks good, we're aimed that way."

Mine That Bird was due back in Saratoga early Tuesday evening. It was uncertain whether he would go back to the track on Wednesday. Woolley said he still needed to talk to Dr. Patricia Hogan, who performed the surgery at the Ruffian Equine Medical Center across the street from Belmont Park, about what he can and can't do.

Woolley said Monday that he would not run Mine That Bird in the Travers unless the gelding was 100 percent.

Woolley said the surgical procedure itself took five minutes. The idea of the procedure is to dissolve the cartilage, or flap, that forms over the epiglottis to prevent the airway from being obstructed.

The entrapment was diagnosed on Monday, shortly after Mine That Bird worked five furlongs in 1:03.83 over Saratoga's main track. As is his normal operating procedure two weeks out from a race, Woolley had an endoscopic examination performed on Mine That Bird at which time the entrapment was discovered.

Woolley transported the horse himself from Saratoga to Belmont on Monday and was to transport him back by early Tuesday evening from Belmont.

Vineyard Haven on for King's Bishop

An already strong renewal of the Grade 1 King's Bishop Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters on Aug. 29 became that much more interesting Tuesday as Vineyard Haven, last year's Hopeful winner, was deemed a starter in the seven-furlong race,

"There's really no other spot for him," said Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. "If you wait for Belmont, you're not sure if the races are going to fill. He's a Grade 1 winner over the track."

Vineyard Haven, a finalist for the Eclipse Award for juvenile champion of 2008, worked six furlongs in 1:14.26 Tuesday morning over the Saratoga main track. It was his seventh work since July 7 and fourth at Saratoga. Vineyard Haven has not run since finishing fourth in the UAE 2000 Guineas at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai in February.

"He's done enough work. He's acting dead fit," Mettee said. "He really finished up good the last quarter mile."

Vineyard Haven joins a cast that includes Munnings, a multiple stakes winner at seven furlongs; Big Drama, who was disqualified from first for interference after setting a track record in the Swale at Gulfstream; and Capt. Candyman Can, a three-time stakes winner at seven furlongs.

On Tuesday, Capt. Candyman Can worked four furlongs in 48.06 seconds over Saratoga's main track.

Gozzip Girl to wait for Garden City

Gozzip Girl will not run in Saturday's Grade 1 Alabama and instead will be kept on turf and be aimed for the Grade 1 Garden City at Belmont Park on Sept. 12.

Trainer Tom Albertrani flirted with the idea of trying Gozzip Girl on the dirt in the Alabama, but ultimately opted to stay on the turf, a surface on which Gozzip Girl has won 5 of 6 races, including the Grade 1 American Oaks at Hollywood Park on July 5

"I still think needs a couple of more weeks to get over the California trip,'' Albertrani said. "If we try her on dirt - her confidence is on such a high, I don't want to mess that up."

Albertrani said he would point to the Garden City, the Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland in October and then determine whether to make a bid at the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita in November.

On Tuesday, Gozzip Girl worked five furlongs in 1:03.42 over the main track.

Affirmatif heads Solomon Northup

Affirmatif drops both in distance and class when he meets seven rivals in Thursday's $70,000 Solomon Northup Stakes for 3-year-olds at 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

Affirmatif, who has two victories at one mile, is coming out of a

seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Virginia Derby at 1 1/4 miles at Colonial Downs, a race in which he led for the opening half-mile.

"The horse had a lot of ability," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "He has speed, but he's not going to be a top racehorse going a mile and a quarter. We need to find out what his specialty, is and maybe this is it."

Pletcher's former assistant George Weaver may have Affirmatif's biggest rival in Perfect Officer, who comes out of a fourth-place finish in the Quick Call Stakes here July 30. He lost to the 5-year-old Awakino Cat - who won Monday's Troy Stakes - by 1 1/4 lengths in a race where he raced between horses and had to check on the turn.

"He got shuffled back on the far turn enough to where if it didn't happen he would he'd have been closer," said Weaver, who is also sending out Boots Ahead.

Wall Street Wonder has finished third in all three of his turf starts. Peace Town, Ask Joe, Amazing Destiny, and Speight the Halo are all making their turf debuts in this spot.

Matz down to one for Lake Placid

Trainer Michael Matz has been mired in a streak of bad luck that he hopes turns around in Friday's Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga. Matz has had an unusual rash of injuries inflict his barn lately, perhaps the biggest one suffered by Magical Affair, who suffered a condylar fracture during a workout last Friday.

Magical Affair, who finished a troubled fourth in the American Oaks, was being pointed to the Lake Placid, but instead had three screws inserted into her foreleg to stabilize the fracture. Matz said if there are no complications, Magical Affair could possibly return to the races next year.

As far as the Lake Placid is concerned, Matz will send out Katara, the third-place finisher in the Grade 3 Virginia Oaks. Katara, a late-running daughter of Pulpit, rallied from last to get third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths.

"I don't know how stiff the competition was down there, but she did make a nice run," Matz said. "She went kind of wide. She does act like she's starting to come into herself more. I need the mile and an eighth for sure."

Katara drew post 2 and will be ridden by Alan Garcia. Inside of her is Miss Keller, who makes her North American debut for trainer Roger Attfield. Also entered are Consequence, Shared Account, Keertana, Mary's Follies, and My Magic Moment.