LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A potential conflict could lead to jockey Calvin Borel snubbing Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird once again.
Borel is tentatively scheduled to ride Mine That Bird in the $750,000 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Park on Aug. 1, but there is a possibility Borel could vacate the mount in favor of Warrior's Reward, a promising 3-year-old who runs Saturday in the $200,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park.
Ian Wilkes, trainer of Warrior's Reward, said he has received a two-race commitment from Borel and his agent, Jerry Hissam, for the Dwyer and the $500,000 Jim Dandy on Aug. 1 at Saratoga. Hissam said Tuesday he had no comment.
Borel, widely credited for a sensational ride in guiding Mine That Bird to his 50-1 upset in the May 2 Kentucky Derby, got off the gelding to ride Rachel Alexandra two weeks later in the Preakness. Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness while Mine That Bird, ridden by Mike Smith, rallied to be second.
Borel then got the mount back on Mine That Bird for the June 6 Belmont Stakes. Mine That Bird, the 5-4 favorite, made a bold move at the top of the stretch before fading to third behind Summer Bird and Dunkirk.
Chip Woolley, the trainer of Mine That Bird, has been planning on Borel riding his stable star in the West Virginia Derby, and he even had Borel breeze the gelding an easy half-mile Monday morning at Churchill Downs.
Woolley said Tuesday morning at Churchill that he had not yet heard from Hissam or Borel about the Aug. 1 situation but that he intended to ask for a firm commitment, one way or another, "probably in the next day or two."
Woolley said he was "okay with Calvin getting on Rachel Alexandra for the Preakness because I really felt in my heart she wasn't going to run, but she did, so we went along with it. This deal here's a little different, though."
Warrior's Reward, a Medaglia d'Oro colt owned by A. Stevens Miles, has won 2 of 5 starts and most recently finished a close second in the Grade 3 Northern Dancer Stakes on the June 13 Stephen Foster undercard at Churchill. In his previous race, Warrior's Reward earned a 113 Beyer Speed Figure in winning a May 1 allowance at Churchill.
Borel rides frequently for Wilkes, the longtime protege and business associate of trainer Carl Nafzger, for whom Borel won the 2007 Derby aboard Street Sense. Wilkes trains a large stable and therefore is the source of far more overall business for Borel than Woolley, whose stable is based in New Mexico.
Both the Jim Dandy and West Virginia Derby serve as preps for the $1 million Shadwell Travers Stakes, set for Aug. 29 at Saratoga. Mine That Bird and Warrior's Reward are both being pointed to the Travers.