Mike Smith, who rode Mine That Bird to a second-place finish in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, will not ride him in the June 6 Belmont Stakes, choosing instead to ride Madeo in the Grade 1 Whittingham Stakes at Hollywood Park that day.
Brad Pegram, Smith's agent, informed Chip Woolley, the trainer of Mine That Bird, on Monday morning. The decision opens the possibility that Calvin Borel -- who rode Mine That Bird to a victory in the Kentucky Derby before opting to ride the filly Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness -- can get back on Mine That Bird for the Belmont, if Rachel Alexandra does not run. As of Monday she was only considered possible for the Belmont.
"We made this commitment to Madeo before the Preakness, before the filly was sold and Calvin took off Mine That Bird to ride the filly and we got a chance to ride Mine That Bird in the Preakness," Pegram said Monday.
Madeo is owned by Jerry and Ann Moss and trained by John Shirreffs, with whom Smith has won major races with the likes of Giacomo and Zenyatta. Shirreffs' wife, Dottie, is the racing manager for the Mosses.
"Everybody is well aware of the relationship that Mike has with John and Dottie and the Mosses," Pegram said. "It's just too bad that these races are on the same day."
Woolley, reached by phone while driving Mine That Bird back to Churchill Downs from Pimlico, said he would "have to see" if Borel would regain the mount.
Borel would be available to ride Mine That Bird in the Belmont if Rachel Alexandra does not run. On Sunday, Rachel Alexandra's trainer, Steve Asmussen, said he would consult with majority owner Jess Jackson before deciding on a Belmont start. But Asmussen allowed that he didn't look at the Belmont with the same urgency as he did the Preakness for Rachel Alexandra.