Monday, May 18, 2009

'Bird flipped-off by another jockey

What's a Derby winner gotta do to keep a jockey?

Mine That Bird -- surprise and impressive winner of the Kentucky Derby and hard-charging runner-up in the Preakness Stakes -- has lost his second rider in as many races. Thoroughbred Times reports that hall-of-famer Mike Smith had to ask off the horse for the June 6 Belmont Stakes due to a prior commitment.

Smith was already confirmed to ride G2 winner Madeo in the Charles Whittingham Memorial H.-G1 at Hollywood Park the same day. Madeo is owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs, connections of Smith's own Derby-winning mount, Giacomo, and of 2008 champion mare Zenyatta. Smith was or is the regular rider of both.

Just as I couldn't blame Calvin Borel for taking off Mine That Bird to stick with potential champion Rachel Alexandra -- with whom he beat the 'Bird in the Preakness -- it's hard to fault Smith here for not going back on his word to the Mosses and Shirreffs. They consistently give him top horses to ride. He needs to keep his commitments to them and maintain that relationship.

Conversely, as good as Mine That Bird is, who knows when -- if ever -- Double Eagle Stables, Buene Suerte Equine and trainer Bennie Woolley Jr. will have this kind of horse again? And would they be sure to hand the reins to Smith even if they did?

Still, Woolley's reaction is both predictable and understandable.

"It's kinda funny," he said. "You'd think if you get a horse this good, you'd keep (a jockey), but apparently not."

Woolley said he'd close a deal with a new rider in a matter of days, not waiting to see whether Rachel Alexandra is entered in the Belmont. If she isn't, of course, he could try to reunite Mine That Bird with Borel, awkward though that might be. But it sounds like that idea is written-off already or Woolley would stall at least for a few days to see whether Rachel's entry seems likely.


  1. Hey there Glenn! Just wanted to let you know that I've added you to my blog list. Hope you are having a fantastic evening!

  2. Welcome. Glad to have you! ... Enjoy what's left of your evening, too.


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