06/11/2009 11:00PM

Woolley picks Mine That Bird's next targets

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Chip Woolley said Mine That Bird would go from the West Virginia Derby to the Travers, then aim for the Breeders' Cup.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird will make his next two starts in the Aug. 1 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park and the Aug. 29 Shadwell Travers Stakes at Saratoga, trainer Chip Woolley announced Friday at Churchill Downs.

Woolley consulted Thursday evening with Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach, the owners of Mine That Bird, before announcing the decision the following morning at their Barn 42 headquarters. The owners were in town for the traditional presentation of engraved Derby trophies, which were to be given away between races during the Stephen Foster Handicap program on Saturday at Churchill.

Woolley said he and the owners had been considering a number of different options for Mine That Bird, the gelding who was second in the Preakness and most recently third in the Belmont Stakes. The Grade 2 West Virginia Derby is a 1 1/8-mile race with a $750,000 purse. The Grade 1 Travers is run at 1 1/4 miles with a $1 million purse. The ultimate goal for Mine That Bird is the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita, before which the gelding may or may not have one more race, said Woolley.

"The West Virginia Derby fits our schedule the best, and that's the main thing," said Woolley. Regarding the BC Classic, which will be run over a Pro-Ride synthetic surface and comes 10 weeks after the Travers, "I'd like to fly him in there two or three weeks before and have two breezes over the track, but we can sneak a race in there before if we need it," he said.

Meanwhile, Mine That Bird returned to light training on Thursday morning when jogging once around the one-mile Churchill main track. He then walked the shed row Friday and was likely to return for another jog Saturday, said Woolley. A similarly easy schedule would ensue for the next week or so, after which the gelding will return to a more demanding training regimen on June 21, said Woolley.

Woolley and Mine That Bird were based in New Mexico until about 12 days before the Derby. Neither has returned there since, and probably will not at least until early September. Woolley said he most likely will keep training Mine That Bird at Churchill until shortly before the race at Mountaineer, which is about a seven-hour ship by van, then go straight to Saratoga from there.