07/03/2010 11:00PM

Tizdejavu wins Firecracker; Mine That Bird 8th

Email

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Tizdejavu prevailed in wire-to-wire fashion Sunday in the a one-mile turf race perhaps more notable for the return of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. Making his first start on grass and first for D. Wayne Lukas, Mine That Bird never reached contention and finished eighth in his 4-year-old debut.

Tizdejavu, with Jesus Castanon aboard, broke sharply from post 4 and took immediate control down the stretch the first time in a race that - on paper, anyway - seemed full of speed and perhaps made to order for the late kick of Mine That Bird. But Tizdejavu just kept going while repulsing several pursuers, winning by 1 1/2 lengths over Public Speaker, who got second by a nose over Inca King in a field of 14 older turf runners.

Mine That Bird, with regular rider Calvin Borel aboard, was making his first start in nearly eight months and his first since owners Mark Allen and Leonard Blach took him from Chip Woolley and turned him over to Lukas. Trailing for much of the trip, Mine That Bird, the 5-2 favorite, began passing rivals far too late, getting past a handful of opponents down the stretch to finish 7 3/4 lengths behind the winner.

"I don't think he looked comfortable until the far turn," said Lukas. "But we got the out. That's it."

Mine That Bird had not raced since finishing ninth in the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita last fall, when still under the care of Woolley. Lukas has repeatedly said since he assumed the gelding's training on May 20 that his main immediate goal is the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap, and the Hall of Fame trainer strongly hinted beforehand that the Firecracker might be more a warm-up than anything toward that Aug. 7 race at Saratoga. A main-track allowance failed to fill on the Saturday card at Churchill, after which Lukas, who is scheduled to ship his stable to Saratoga on July 12, reluctantly settled on the Firecracker as an alternative prep.

Mine That Bird now has lost six straight races since he won the 135th Derby by 6 3/4 lengths, the largest winning Derby margin in more than 60 years.

Tizdejavu, a 5-year-old Tiznow horse, was bred and is owned by Michael Cooper and Pam Ziebarth and based at the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington, Ky., with trainer Greg Fox. He paid $10.20 as second choice after finishing in 1:35.98 over a firm course.

The purse for the Firecracker was $205,625, with Tizdejavu earning $116,016, lifting his career bankroll to $693,153.

Fox, who was thrilled with the victory, said he "might skip the next race cycle" with Tizdejavu while pointing to several rich fall races at the horse's optimum distance of about a mile on turf.

"All we've been thinking about is clearing this hurdle," said Fox. "I might freshen him up and look toward the fall."

The Firecracker anchored the final program of the 42-day meet at Churchill. Mandatory end-of-meet payouts were $34,592 (for 5 of 6) for the $2 pick six and $7,944 for the $1 super high five.

Live action on the Kentucky circuit now moves to Ellis Park, where a 27-day meet starts Saturday.