05/11/2009 11:00PM

Mine That Bird lands at Pimlico


BALTIMORE - The Turnbow horse trailer with New Mexico plates was attached to a Ford F-450 pickup, sitting in near-darkness next to the Preakness Stakes barn a little before 8:30 on Tuesday night at Pimlico Racecourse. Security guards hovered around the barn. Inside were two handlers of Papa Clem. Trainer Chip Woolley asked one of the guards if the lights inside the stalls could be turned off for the night. And there, with his head sticking out of the second stall on the west side of the barn, the one reserved for the Kentucky Derby winner, was Mine that Bird.

Two hours earlier, the trailer, pick-up, Mine that Bird, groom Charlie Figueroa, and Woolley had pulled into Pimlico with a police escort. Their trip from Churchill Downs began about 9 a.m. Tuesday, and some 20 miles from the their destination, Woolley saw the police cars waiting to lead him into town. He slowed, flashed his lights, and fell into the procession.

"I told all the media, 'First time the police came and I didn't end up in jail,' " Woolley said.

Mine that Bird ships well, Woolley said, and Tuesday's trip was uneventful. Mine that Bird snacked on some hay and looked bright in his stall; his appetite never has wavered since the Derby win, Woolley said. Mine that Bird got the morning after the Derby off and didn't train on Tuesday since he had worked a half-mile the day before and would be taking a long ride. But Woolley said Mine that Bird would be out for a gallop between 7 and 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Wednesday is Preakness draw day, too. Woolley and Mine that Bird's connections will name Mike Smith to ride at the time of the draw, but only when it is completely set that Rachel Alexandra will be in the Preakness and that Calvin Borel, who won the Derby on Mine that Bird and won the Kentucky Oaks on Rachel Alexandra, will ride the filly.