05/25/2010 11:00PM

Mine That Bird has first work for Lukas

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Less than a week after coming into the D. Wayne Lukas barn, Mine That Bird had his first timed breeze when

going three furlongs in 35.20 seconds early Wednesday over a fast track at Churchill Downs.

Mine That Bird, winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby, has not raced since finishing ninth in the Nov. 7

Breeders' Cup Classic, when still trained by Chip Woolley. He had been in training since mid-March at the New Mexico ranch of co-owner Mark Allen before being vanned here last week. Lukas said he has been impressed with the gelding's apparent fitness since he began sending Mine That Bird to the track Friday.

With exercise rider Dominic Terry aboard, Mine That Bird went in fractions of 12 and 23.40 seconds before galloping out a half-mile in 49.60.

Lukas has said he hopes to find a suitable allowance prep for Mine That Bird, preferably early in the Saratoga meet that starts July 23, before tackling more difficult races.

Meanwhile, about an hour after the Mine That Bird work, Churchill had to close for training for about 1 1/2 hours when a sinkhole about a foot in diameter was discovered on the main track approaching the half-mile pole.

Churchill workers repaired the hole, with the track being reopened about 8:40 a.m. Eastern, or shortly after when it would have reopened for the regularly scheduled harrow break. There were no injuries, and Churchill track superintendent Butch Lehr told horsemen he expected no further problems.

Atta Boy Roy seeks a repeat

Atta Boy Roy will try to prove his 10-1 upset in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs on the May 1 Kentucky Derby undercard was no fluke when he returns to action Saturday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Aristides.

"We're wanting to run him in the Breeders' Cup Sprint" on Nov. 6 at Churchill, said trainer Valorie Lund, who normally is based at Turf Paradise and Emerald Downs but has been at the Trackside training center since early April with a handful of horses. "That's why we came all this way."

The Churchill Downs was run at seven furlongs, while both the

Aristides and BC Sprint go at six

furlongs.

"Six is his best distance," Lund said. "Ideally, we'd like to run him twice more after this to get to the Breeders' Cup in good shape."

The Aristides will be co-featured on an 11-race Saturday card with another Grade 3, $100,000 race, the Dogwood Stakes for 3-year-old

fillies.

The weekend stakes schedule winds up Monday with the Grade 3, $100,000 Winning Colors for filly-mare sprinters.

Acoma eyes Mint Julep for return

Acoma, undefeated in five career starts at Churchill, will begin her 5-year-old campaign here next Saturday by defending her title in the Grade 3, $100,000 Mint Julep Handicap.

Acoma has won twice on the dirt and three times on the turf at Churchill, including four stakes in all. Trained by David Carroll, she has been away since winning the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap here last November.

The Mint Julep, a 1 1/16-mile turf race, will be the live feature on a day when fans will be sticking around for the Belmont Stakes simulcast.

Weekend Wildcat eyes stakes

The maiden victory by Weekend Wildcat last week signaled a resurgence in the public stable of trainer Larry Demeritte, whose stock has been fortified by the addition of numerous 2-year-olds owned by new clients Mervin and Barbara McNamara of Canada.

"I bought some real nice young horses for them, and it's been great to have so much action," said Demeritte, who is based at Keeneland.

Weekend Wildcat, a Lion Heart colt who earned a 76 Beyer Speed Figure in winning here May 20, likely will run back in the Bashford Manor here July 3, Demeritte said.

* Trainer Tom Proctor is planning on running both of his promising 3-year-old turf fillies, Queen of the Creek and Snow Top Mountain, in the Grade 3 Regret Stakes on the June 12 Stephen Foster undercard.

Queen of the Creek was third as the favorite in the American 1000 Guineas last weekend at Arlington Park.

"Sometimes expectations can be tough," Proctor said. "But she's a very nice filly, and I haven't lost any faith in her."

* Jere R. Smith Jr. is returning to Saudi Arabia to work in the Thoroughbred industry. Smith, 48, already served a stint of about five years in the Middle Eastern kingdom, training for the ruling family of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and his sons.

Smith is the son of the late Jere R. Smith Sr., a dominant trainer in Chicago before his death in 2004. The younger Smith won with 7 of 54 starters during the year or so he ran a public stable during his return to America.

* The first of four straight Friday evening programs will be run in two weeks, June 11, when Churchill will use a disco theme to attract what surely will be a big ontrack crowd. Other themes to follow are South Beach (June 18), Dress to Impress (June 25), and Boots, Brew and Barbecue (July 2).

First post on those Fridays will be 6 p.m. Eastern. Last year, the three evening programs drew an ontrack average of about 30,000.