Bird back for Travers Stakes showdown

Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird (Birdstone) is back on track for the G1 Travers Stakes at Saratoga on August 29 following a brief procedure to correct a breathing problem.

“It was as smooth as silk,” trainer Chip Woolley said of the surgery to free an entrapped epiglottis. “We scoped him afterward and it was just perfect.”

An entrapped epiglottis is a condition where the thin membrane lying below the epiglottis – the fleshy tissue that covers the windpipe when a horse swallows – moves up and covers the airway, with the potential to obstruct a horse’s breathing.  Surgery slices the membrane away, freeing the epiglottis from obstruction.

The 140th running of the $1 million Shadwell sponsored Travers Stakes could also include champion filly Rachel Alexandra.

Trainer Steve Asmussen said there are several options for Rachel Alexandra’s next start at Saratoga.  They include the Travers Stakes, Personal Ensign Stakes (G1) on August 30 and the Woodward Stakes (G1) on September 5.  The $1-million Pennsylvania Derby (G2) at Philadelphia Park on September 7 is another alternative.

Rachel Alexandra (Medaglia d’Oro) was last seen winning the Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park.  She was responsible for another outstanding workout at Saratoga earlier this week covering 1000m in 60.37s.

Exercise rider Dominic Terry, who has been on Rachel Alexandra’s back every morning since she was purchased by Jess Jackson and Harold McCormick in May, said the filly felt a lot stronger than normal.

“She went really nice and I couldn’t ask for more,” Terry declared.  “It was just effortless.  I would be confident anywhere they want to run her.”

Asmussen confirmed he would make a decision on Rachel Alexandra’s next start after speaking with Jackson.  “We don’t want to keep anybody guessing,” he said.  “But Rachel is a tremendous talent and our first responsibility is to keep her that way.”