The Brock Talk

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Belmont Trainers Report All's Well

Trainers of the top four finishers in Saturday's Belmont Stakes all came out of the race in good order and are resting at their barns at Belmont Park.

Charitable Man and Dunkirk will remain at their barns at Belmont Park while winner Summer Bird and third-place finisher Mine That Bird will be flown back to Churchill Downs early Monday. Summer Bird will then travel by van to trainer Tim Ice's homebase at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La. Plans as to where Chip Woolley will train Mine That Bird this summer have not been determined.

“We’ve discussed the Jim Dandy and the Travers with the owners (Drs. Kalarikkal and Vilasini Jayaraman),” said winning trainer Tim Ice, his voice still hoarse Sunday morning from cheering Summer Bird home in Saturday. “If we go, like we did for the Belmont, we’ll go ahead of time, ship up a month before the (August 1) Jim Dandy.

“People tell me you have to go to two places – Del Mar and Saratoga,” said Ice, who took out his trainer’s license 14 months ago. “I’ve been to Del Mar, and to take a horse like this and go to Saratoga would be amazing.”

Summer Bird, who was making only his fifth career start in the Belmont, came out of the mile-and-a-half race in great shape, said Ice.

“I had him grazing for two hours,” he said. “He looks great.”

No definite racing plans have been made for any of the other three horses, but races like the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park in New Jersey or the Jim Dandy Stakeare possibly next for any of them. The Jim Dandy is run on Saturday, August 1 and the Haskell is run the following day. Races such as the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in September and the Breeders' Cup Classic at Santa Anita in early November were mentioned as longer term goals.

While the mood at Mine That Bird’s barn on Sunday morning was somewhat subdued, Mine That Bird himself showed no signs of exhaustion for his impressive effort running third in the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

“He feels awful good this morning,” said trainer Chip Woolley “Awful bright and bouncing – he’s ready to get out and go do something.”

One look at the little gelding walking around the barn, peering inquisitively at the small crowd gathered outside bore this statement out. His trainer, stretched out in a lawn chair complete with footrest and cup holder for coffee, admitted a touch of fatigue.

“Talk about whipped,” Woolley said. “About halfway through dinner last night I just said ‘Guys, I’m done,’ and I’m not that type at all. I couldn’t believe how I hit a wall last night. I never thought I’d be sitting here sort of down about running third in the Belmont – this has been a lifetime dream.”

Although he is understandably disappointed by the loss, Woolley keeps it in perspective.

“When he was making for the lead as they turned for home, I was thinking ‘We’re in trouble,’” Woolley said. “It was just too early to make the lead here and I was really concerned we’d used a little too much horse in the turn. If you move too early with this horse, his past history shows he comes up empty. Tim (Ice, trainer of winning Summer Bird) is a great guy and he deserves to win. He’s done a nice job with his horse.”

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