Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mike Smith Will Not Ride Mine That Bird In Belmont

Jockey Mike Smith announced on Monday that he will not ride Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes on June 6th. In making the announcement Smith talked of a previous commitment to ride Madeo in the Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park for owner Jerry Moss and trainer John Sheriffs for whom he is the first call rider.

This has opened up a spot to ride the popular Derby winner once again and has also set up the possibility that Calvin Borel, who rode Mine That Bird to a win in the Derby before switching to Rachel Alexandra for the Preakness, could again be aboard Mine That Bird in the Belmont should Rachel Alexandra not be entered in the race.

Mine That Bird's trainer Chip Woolley has said he was surprised by Smith's decision but he would not wait until a decision is made on the status of Rachel Alexandra before naming a rider for Mine That Bird. Still, it would seem like he may want Borel aboard if he is available.

In other Belmont Stakes news, Dunkirk and Chocolate Candy who both raced in the Derby worked at Belmont Park yesterday and both are probable starters in the Belmont. Wayne Lukas also announced that Flying Private (4th in the Preakness) will likely start in the Belmont.