LOUISVILLE, Ky. -Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley and co-owners Mark Allen and Leonard Blach have been so stunned by the horse's victory in the Kentucky Derby that they'll need a few days to consider whether to run him in the Preakness.
Woolley told reporters Sunday that it's no sure thing that Mine That Bird will be headed to Baltimore. He, Allen and Blach will have to talk it over, see how the horse recovers from his historic upset Saturday at Churchill Downs and hopefully make a decision by midweek.
"The horse [has] come back super so far, but we'll decide [about the Preakness] after we have a little discussion," Woolley said. "The Preakness really wasn't on our radar. ... There's no obligation. You got to do what's best for the horse. The horse has got to come first, so we'll see what happens."
The last horse to win the Derby and skip the second jewel at Pimlico Race Course was Grindstone in 1996, but those were different circumstances. Grindstone was injured between the two races and retired. In 1985, Spend a Buck decided to instead compete in the Jersey Derby. The Kentucky Derby winner has also won the Preakness seven times in the past 12 runnings.
Does Mine That Bird even have the speed to compete in the Preakness, at 1 3/16 miles the shortest of the three Triple Crown races?
"I don't know," Woolley said. "The Preakness tends to be a little more speed-biased, and I don't know if that's going to fit our horse all that well."
Meanwhile, the trainer is enjoying the momentous victory.
"It's actually a little bit hard to get your mind around," Woolley said.
"It's hard to believe you came in here and won this thing."
How much sleep did Woolley get after celebrating?
"Very little," he said. "We had a lot of fun last night."
Allen, in fact, acknowledged that he hadn't even been to bed yet when speaking with reporters at 7 a.m. outside Mine That Bird's barn at Churchill Downs.
Now the sleep-deprived New Mexico cowboys face a difficult decision: Do they give the late-charging horse another outside shot at stunning the field or hold him off and prepare for the Belmont Stakes? After all, his sire, Birdstone, won the 1 1/2 -mile Belmont in 2004, running down Smarty Jones on the backstretch. This is a horse bred for distance.
Other trainers have difficult decisions, too.
Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile's Bob Baffert said he'll take about a week to figure out whether his horse will go to Baltimore but that his intention is to run him if he's healthy.
Papa Clem, who finished fourth in the Derby and is trained by Gary Stute, will be at Pimlico. Stute announced that his horse is in the Preakness for sure and that he expects to be a contender.
"I looked at the charts this morning, and I was only beaten [by] a nose and a head for second," Stute said.
"To be honest, Baffert's horse [Pioneerof the Nile] came over and bumped me. If it were a normal race, there might have been an inquiry. With any luck, we could have been second."
Freisan Fire, who looked like a Derby contender but finished 18th, has an uncertain Preakness future. Cindy Jones, wife of trainer Larry Jones, said Sunday morning that the horse will need to recover from an injury that occurred in the Derby. Early in the race, he grabbed a quarter, which is the term for when the back foot strikes the back of one of the front hooves.
"He looks almost like he has a floor burn, like when basketball players dive on the floor and take the skin off," Cindy Jones said. "He was bleeding pretty good front left. He also had a big piece of black [leg] wrap under his horseshoe. It wouldn't come out. We had to pull the nails out to get it out."
It was hard, though, for anyone to focus on anything else besides the incredible tale of Mine That Bird and his owners, especially because it kept getting better Sunday morning. Blach informed reporters that Allen and Woolley had been childhood buddies but left the origins of their friendship vague when reporters asked about it.
"I don't know if we're allowed to tell that story," Blach said.
After he was pressed a bit, Allen sheepishly acknowledged that he and Woolley became close only after Woolley came to his defense in a bar fight more than 25 years ago.
"I started a fight, and he helped me out," Allen said, with a grin as big as his bagel-size belt buckle.
Did the two of you win?
"We wound up on top," Allen said. "But it took us awhile."
PREAKNESS May 16, Pimlico Race Course
Post time: approximately 6:18 p.m.
TV: 4:30 p.m., chs. 11, 4
* Sunrise at Old Hilltop, 6 a.m.-9 a.m., Pimlico apron
* Preakness Draw, 5-5:30 p.m. Stakes barn, invitation only, HRTV and ESPN360
* Sunrise at Old Hilltop 6 a.m.-9 a.m.
* Preakness Alibi Breakfast, 9:30 a.m., Terrace Dining Room, invitation only
* Sunrise at Old Hilltop, 6 a.m.-9 a.m.
* Preakness Celebration Parade, 8:30 p.m., from Baltimore Convention Center down Pratt Street
* $50,000 Jockey Challenge, races 3, 5, 7, 9; first race 12:15 p.m.
* Jockey autograph session, 11-11:30 a.m., first floor grandstand
* DRF handicapping seminar, 11:30 a.m.-noon, first-floor grandstand
* Book signing session, noon-2 p.m., first-floor grandstand
* Black-Eyed Susan Day, first post 12:15 p.m.; Race 12
* Preakness Day and InfieldFest; gates open, 8 a.m., first race at 10:15 a.m.
* HRTV and ESPN360:
May 15, 1 p.m.-6 p.m.;
May 16, 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
* Chs. 11 and 4: May 16, national coverage, 4:30 p.m.- approximately 6:45 p.m.
* Ch. 11: May 16, local coverage, 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m., approximately 6:45 p.m.-8 p.m.