Training operation remains on track with Woolleys apart

Associated Press
Chip Woolley

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- Everyone in horse racing knows Chip Woolley has been plenty busy lately.


His horse won the Kentucky Derby, ran second in the Preakness and third in the Belmont Stakes.

Back in New Mexico, the Woolley training barn has stayed right on track. With Chip on the road, his brother Bill has been minding the store at Sunray Park outside Farming-ton, N.M.

"There's been no problems," Bill Woolley said. "I just have to make a few more decisions than I did when Chip was around all the time."

Like what?

"Oh, the entry deals, getting horses into the right races, keeping track of all that stuff. Lots of stuff."

The brothers haven't seen each other since Chip Woolley loaded Mine That Bird into a trailer at Sunland Park, N.M., and began the 19-hour drive to Louisville, Ky., where the gelding won the Kentucky Derby as a 50-1 long shot May 2.

They speak by phone regularly, working together to oversee the 25-horse Woolley barn.

Chip Woolley said it has been a challenge to follow the New Mexico action from afar but feels he hasn't missed too much.

"It's been a little hard to keep up, but trainers do it all over the world every day," he said. "It's not that big of a deal."

During Mine That Bird's run through the Triple Crown races, Bill Woolley saddled eight horses in New Mexico, including two winners.

"We've run pretty decent," he said. "Won one the day after the Derby."

That was a quarter horse, Louisianafeature One, who broke his maiden. Then it was De My Maurine on June 4 in a $13,000 claiming race. On Sunday, New Mexico-bred Fancy Catillac was third in an $11,000 claiming race.

Asked about his day-to-day responsibilities, Bill Woolley said he sticks with a workout schedule drafted by his brother.

"Chip has a basic program. We follow it," he said. "Of course, things happen and you have to change it, but we've tried to stay on the same schedule."

Chip Woolley, who lives in Bloomfield, N.M., plans to be back in the state soon.

He said it's likely he will saddle a few horses, either during the current meet at Ruidoso Downs or when The Downs at Albuquerque resumes racing Aug. 8.

He will return with a considerable measure of fame, thanks to Mine That Bird.

"This horse has been a win-win for our state," Chip Woolley said. "It's been great to be able to help racing in New Mexico."

TRAINER CHANGE: Quality Road has a new trainer in Todd Pletcher, who says the Florida Derby winner could make his next start in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 1.

Previously trained by Jimmy Jerkens, the 3-year-old colt was transferred to Pletcher's barn by owner Edward P. Evans.

Quality Road, who was broken in Aiken by Legacy Stable's Ron Stevens, was one of the favorites for the Kentucky Derby, but was sidelined with a hoof injury less than a week before the May 2 Derby. The colt returned to training earlier this month before Evans made the decision to switch trainers.



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