Skip Preakness; Smith Named Backup
By Steve Haskin - May 13, 2009
Derby Trial Stakes (gr. III) winner Hull, who is undefeated in three
career starts, will bypass the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and will run
instead in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) on Belmont
day. Also trainer Chip Woolley confirmed that Mike Smith will ride
Mine That Bird if Rachel Alexandra runs in the Preakness.
“I don't like the way the pace scenario shapes up,” said Barry Irwin,
who owns Hull, by Holy Bull, with Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and Gary
Barber. “I cannot see us getting the right kind of trip. I see there
being too much pressure on him going two turns for the first time. I
like this horse; he is training really well and I don't want to screw
The defection of Hull leaves the Preakness with a less contentious
pace. Only Big Drama and Tone it Down look to have front-running
speed, along with Rachel Alexandra, who also likes to run close to the
pace in a stalking position. Take the Points and Friesan Fire are
others who prefer to do their running relatively close to the pace.
Hull's defection also gives Rachel Alexandra a better shot making it
into the starting field, and also leaving an opening for the Marlyou
Whitney-owned Luv Gov, who will only run if he doesn't exclude Rachel
Mine That Bird's trainer, Chip Woolley, confirmed May 11 that if he
loses Calvin Borel to Rachel Alexandra, Mike Smith will ride the
winner of the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
“Calvin will have the call on my horse right up to the time entries
are taken," Woolley said. "If the filly is entered, then Mike Smith
will have the mount. We’ve had talks with Mike and we decided it was
the best move to have Mike on our horse if the mare is in the race.
Mike watched the Derby. He saw how the horse ran and knows the kind of
running style he has. We’re confident that he’d do his job well.”