08/25/2009 11:00PM

Mine That Bird to target Goodwood

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Barbara D. Livingston
"We just want to go down the road and make sure the horse is 100 percent before we start," trainer Chip Woolley said Wednesday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Mine That Bird is headed West.

Choosing to skip Saturday's $1 million Travers Stakes because it comes up just 11 days after Mine That Bird underwent throat surgery to repair an entrapped epiglottis, the connections of the Kentucky Derby-winning gelding will now set their sights on Santa Anita and the Grade 1, $350,000 Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita on Oct. 10 as a prep for the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, also at Santa Anita on Nov. 7.

"That gives us six more weeks for it to be for sure, positively completely healed," trainer Chip Woolley said, referring to the timing of the Goodwood. "We just want to go down the road and make sure the horse is 100 percent before we start."

Mine That Bird underwent throat surgery on Aug. 18 and subsequently missed two days of training. Mine That Bird galloped Sunday and Monday before working five furlongs on Tuesday. A trio of post-training endoscopic examinations on the throat were reported to have been perfect.

On Tuesday, Woolley and co-owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach expressed some concern over a typical post-surgical spot on the left lateral border of the epiglottis. While Woolley said "it probably would have no bearing on the race," he and the owners wanted to err on the side of caution.

"It has reduced in size as the time's gone on, but it's still there," Woolley said. "We just don't feel comfortable taking the chance causing some kind of scar tissue that's going to be there the rest of his life. We feel with a little more time the horse will be 100 percent and we can go on."

Said Blach: "It might be a little risky to push him right now and I think that's how we arrived at this decision."

Mine That Bird has been stabled at Saratoga since Aug, 3, two days after he finished third in the West Virginia Derby. Woolley believed the gelding was thriving at Saratoga and, even despite the surgery, felt good about how the horse was coming up to the Travers.

"I think the horse is as good as he's ever been," Woolley said. "He's really responded well here and done well here, but we can't take a chance with his career for one race either."

Woolley said Mine That Bird would be flown, probably early next week, to Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico, where Woolley is usually based. Mine That Bird is expected to lead the post parade for the $2 million All-American Futurity, a Quarter Horse race at Ruidoso on Sept. 7.

Woolley said shortly thereafter Mine That Bird would be shipped to Santa Anita in order to get acclimated with that track's Pro-Ride surface. Last year, before coming to Woolley, Mine That Bird finished last of 12 in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after shipping from Canada less than a week before the race.