Chip Woolley

Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr., who will be the featured guest on the next edition of’s Talkin’ Horses podcast, scheduled for taping Tuesday, May 26, took the long road (literally and figuratively) to success in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

Despite a broken leg sustained in a motorcycle accident, Woolley loaded up his Ford pickup truck and Turnbow trailer and drove cross-country with a little gelding named Mine That Bird to contest the Run For the Roses. Overlooked by the media during Derby week, Mine That Bird paired with Churchill Downs-based jockey Calvin Borel to post one of the most stunning upset victories in Derby history, winning by 6 ¾ lengths. The payoff of $103.20 was the second-highest in the 135 runnings of the classic.

The win, and especially the brilliant ride by Borel, generated a whirlwind of publicity for Woolley, who was a rodeo rider before migrating into training Quarter Horses in New Mexico. He has recently been transitioning into training Thoroughbreds, although there are still some Quarter Horses among his stable that totals about 25 horses.

As if winning the Derby was not exciting enough, the drama that unfolded after the race was equally riveting. Rather than ride the Derby winner in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), jockey Borel opted for the mount on the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) winner Rachel Alexander, a late-comer to the Triple Crown scene after a change in ownership. That resulted in Mine That Bird picking up the services of Mike Smith. Borel and the filly led throughout the Preakness before the Derby winner mounted a serious challenge in deep stretch, with Rachel Alexandra prevailing in the end.

We thank everyone for their questions; the podcast will be taped on May 26.


Leave a Comment:


Hi Chip - great training job with Mine That Bird!  Was wondering what your first reaction was when you found out that Mike Smith will not ride the gelding back in the Belmont.  Did you know this before the Preakness, or find out afterwards?  Also - did you ever consider flying Mine That Bird to the Derby?  Why did you decide to van him yourself?

21 May 2009 3:01 PM

Hi Chip-Does"The Bird" seem to know that he's going to race the morning leading up to the race? I know that you've said nothing bothers him but are there certain  changes in his routine that tips him off?  I love the story of  your success and the very professional way that you've handled everything since your Derby win.  I was there and got to see it in person- what a shocker "The Bird" pulled off!  Best of luck in the Belmont!

21 May 2009 3:14 PM

Who designed and who made your very cool belt buckle commemorating your Derby win?

21 May 2009 3:26 PM
Greg Lessine

Will you ever consider letting Chantal Sutherland ride if Borel is unable too?  She did have a very successful run on him as a two year old.

21 May 2009 3:28 PM

no question - just wanted to say congratulations and what a class act MTB and his whole team have been!  I hope to be rooting for MTB for years to come!  Good luck in the Belmont!

21 May 2009 3:30 PM
Joseph Griffitt

Dear Mr. Woolley, You being a trainer from New Mexico, is their anything that you do different with your horses, that most of the big gun trainers may not do with thier horses? Congrats on the Derby and Preakness, Mine That Bird is one heck of a horse, Ill be cheering yall on in the Belmont.

Thanks, Joseph

21 May 2009 3:37 PM

Hello Mr. Woolley!

You have spoken a great deal about Mine That Bird's attitude, intelligence and closing kick.  I have noticed that he is also very handy and athletic - able to switch leads to get through a tiny gap and then pop back over on the correct one once he's through!  

What single trait of all these to you feel contributes most to his ability and success thus far?

Best of luck in the Belmont - I absolutely love this tough little horse!  He is one that - as long as he stays healthy and enjoys the game - could be our next John Henry!  

21 May 2009 3:40 PM


21 May 2009 3:40 PM
Mattie W.

Do you, yourself, see any similarities between Seabiscuit and Mine That Bird People here have been saying they are both small sized, have a somewhat unusual gait and feet, have a big heart and very high competitive spirit, etc. It's obvious that it's too early to tell how much similarities their careers will have, but around here I hear some similarities with regard to physical appearance and  characteristics, and I tend to agree. However, you are a lot closer to the horse. What do you see as some similarities, including any that are little known to the public or the press.    

21 May 2009 3:42 PM

Congratulations, good luck on the belmont.  Are you planning to get a permanent jockey for MTB??

21 May 2009 3:43 PM
TouchStone Farms


I know what it's like to lose a horses pilot in stakes races, and personally it made me a little crazy when that would happen time to time. This colt must be getting tired of breaking in new riders, have you thought of putting the gal up that rode him as a two year old? I think chances are pretty good she would committ to him for the rest of the year and she's a first rate jock. When you win the derby, the Preakness or the Belmont - prior engagements should absolutely cease to exist - respect for the winner and his team commands that! Of course thats just my perspective.....and temperment.

21 May 2009 3:43 PM

In light of the success Mine That Bird has had, do you feel any disappointment at his being a gelding and missing the breeding opportunity?

21 May 2009 3:46 PM

When did you first entertain the thought of Mine That Bird entering the Derby? What made you confident (given his long odds) that he would be competitive in the race?

21 May 2009 3:54 PM

Hey Chip,

Congrats with the Bird you have a fine horse there.

My question is, Do you think that the bird is not getting enough Credit for winning the Derby? Thats the way I feel and I was wondering if you feel the same?.

Thanks and Good luck in the Belmont, Cause the Bird will Win!!..

21 May 2009 3:55 PM

First of all I would like to say that you have been doing an amazing job with Mine that Bird. What advice would you give to aspiring trainers?

21 May 2009 3:55 PM

after the belmont whats next for  mine that bird? if rebounds good

21 May 2009 3:55 PM
Bird Fan

Congradulations on your journey with Mine That Bird and yes, he is for real.  I love his game face with his ears layed back, you must have taught him that.  My question is, how large a horse is he?  

21 May 2009 4:05 PM

Just wanted to tell you that your horse has really won me over during this Triple Crown season!  Coming into the Derby I didn't know anything about him so I threw him out in my picks.  When he won though he immediately won me over!  I think he & his crew are what racing needs!  Looking forward to many more years of watching Mine That Bird :)

My only questions to you are, what is he like on a day to day basis?  Does he have any interesting quirks?  He has a very intelligent look to him.

Thanks for taking questions and good luck at Belmont! :)

21 May 2009 4:16 PM

I am sorry I don't have a question. Please tell Mr. Woolley that Mine That Bird has some very devoted fans in KY. Thank You.

21 May 2009 4:20 PM

Are you tired of people bringing up the fact that you haul the horse yourself like this is some 'grapes of wrath' outfit or something?

21 May 2009 4:21 PM

do you think because of you winning the ky derby and running second in the preakness stakes that more people will be asking you to train their horses? and would train on the east coast anytime in the future like at belmont park and saratoga maybe aqueduct?

21 May 2009 4:24 PM
Tana Simmons

When fitting "Mine that Bird" and similar style TB's - what major differences are there in your training and fitting for them vs. those of the QH sprinters?

Thank you and Good Luck to Mine That Bird and connections in the Belmont!

21 May 2009 4:25 PM


I know you don’t want to criticize Mike Smith, but do you think if he goes around “Take the Points” on the outside when they came off the turn he has clear sailing and ends up in the same spot as he did after he had to check and fight his way through?  In my opinion, Mike drove your horse right up in the pack with nowhere to go and cost your horse the race or at least cost him a chance to be eyeball to eyeball with a 100 yds to go, maybe she doesn’t let him by or maybe not, but we will never know because of Mike.  I think Bird could have ridden the grandstand rail and caught her if he doesn’t have to check up and bust through. Also, I don’t know if Bird has ever flown before, but if he hasn’t I would drive, don’t change anything.  Stop back at Pimlico and stretch his legs.  Get a Police escort at the Jersey line. I’m boxin the two 23-b family horse’s in the Belmont, GOOD LUCK

21 May 2009 4:26 PM
Karen in Indiana

Hi. Did you see any indications that Mine That Bird would do such a performance? Had he ever done anything like that before or were you as in shock about it as the rest of us? He is an awesome little horse, thank you for bringing him.

21 May 2009 4:41 PM

After Mine That Bird races in the Belmont will he be given some much needed time off and will you continue to run him on the East Coast through summer and fall.

21 May 2009 4:46 PM
Jo Kent

Why not put Robby Albarado on Mine That Bird?

21 May 2009 4:52 PM
Kathleen O'Malley

What is Mine That Bird's favorite snack?

21 May 2009 4:53 PM

First of all, congratulations Chip from this U. of New Mexico graduate! I read that what you liked about Mine That Bird was his walk. Can you describe what you see when you come across a horse that has "the walk" that you're looking for? Thanks and good luck in the Belmont!

21 May 2009 4:54 PM

Brilliant...keep this horse @ Sunland Park and stay under the radar. Back east the racing world doesn't understand the name of Buena Suerte Ranch..Great Job...

21 May 2009 4:55 PM

Mr. Wooley,

I am a big fan of your training techniques with Mine That Bird. I was wondering if you learned any of your training from Frank Whiteley. I am reminded of him when I see you talk to the press! :)

21 May 2009 4:56 PM

1.  how long has Mine That Bird been doing 2 mile gallops.

2.  how many times a week does MTB gallop 2 miles.

3.  do you do two mile gallops with your other horses.

21 May 2009 5:01 PM

Congratulations on Mine That Bird's Derby Win and wonderful race in the Preakness!!!

I was wondering if you will keep Mine That Bird in the East after the Belmont or return him to New Mexico?

I would love to see him run later in the summer at Saratoga!

Best Wishes to Mine That Bird and all his connections!  He's a great horse!

21 May 2009 5:07 PM

I will always be a fan of Mine That Bird. He has endeared himself to the public in the same way Smarty Jones and Funnycide have done. He was an awsome 2 year old when he raced in Canada. Under your training he has really blossomed. What do you attribute that to?

21 May 2009 5:12 PM
Mike Gilbrough


Congrats on your Derby win and strong showing in The Preakness!

A rumor surfaced shortly after the Derby that you were carrying a firearm at Churchill Downs on Derby day.  Can you please set the record straight on this matter so people quit speculating?  Good luck at the Belmont.  

21 May 2009 5:14 PM
Little Guy Breeder

Congratulations! I wish you many more walks from the Derby Starter barn!  Do you use a lot of long gallops to get your horses fit, and if so, how long is long in your book?

21 May 2009 5:18 PM
Diane Anderson

Why did Mike Smith try Calvin Borel's technique of riding, instead of his own? Mine That Bird is an exceptional horse. If it hadn't been for the traffic he had to manuever around, he would have won.

I looked at the ariel angle.

Congratulations !!!!!!!!!!!!

Mine That Bird is No# 1

Cmon' Smart Strike

21 May 2009 5:22 PM
Michael Fritz

Congrats Mr Woolley on the Derby, and having one great exciting game honest horse!  In his record before the Derby there wern't many races where he ran from way out of it in a Deep Rally stlye.  I understand the New Mexico track doesn't favor that style, but how did you know that he would thrive from 15-20 lengths back when he had never raced that far back before?

21 May 2009 5:22 PM
Real Fans Speak Out

Let me say first how proud I am of you and your whole team Chip! I'll try and be brief- I've read that you may fly Bird to the Belmont, has he ever flown before- could this be a problem that could unsettle him?  I would be glad if you could save yourselves the trip!  Does Bird have any little traits or personality quirks?  Racing columnists usually just bring us times and breeding- what is Bird actually like?  TAKE CARE CHIP, GOOD LUCK IN THE DERBY- I hope to see another good guy- Calvin Borel - back in the irons.  Let's give him a jockey Triple Crown!

21 May 2009 5:24 PM
Jacob Crestelo


First off congrats on an amazing horse. I hope you ride Alex Solis! He is a great, patient rider who has the exact style for your horse. What do you think? I wish you the best of luck in the Belmont.


21 May 2009 5:25 PM

hi chip i will love to see RA and MTB in the belmont lots of peoples saying give RA a rest if that good for RA do you think MTB need that rest to Chip you have all the power for the belmont why don`t you used it if it was good for RA to run in the preakness why not the same for the belmont is say if RA don`t run in the belmont don`t run MTB the belmont need MTB let see those 2 jockey CB and RA gain up on other horses like they did to MTB Chip i know you know fool if they want to play game take it to them i will like to say this i see jockeys come from Europe ride in big races one thing i can say they don`t get box in they ride on the outside Chip your horse is a good little horse you do what right for him keep CB from your horse he know now MTB can beat RA anyday .

21 May 2009 5:38 PM
Sal from Lubbock

How does one get an F-450 Ford pickup? I've seen plenty of 250s and 350s but never a 450. What kind of treats does MTB like? When is the cast scheduled to come off? After the Belmont, have you targeted any summer/fall races for MTB. GO MTB!!!

21 May 2009 5:48 PM

Chip in an interview you stated that MTB is not straight in the front end. Because I've only seen him on TV it's hard to tell where.You can use proper terms, I'm an old racetracker but I won't tell you how old!

21 May 2009 5:48 PM
Linda Cernan

What is our little guy like in the barn?

21 May 2009 5:49 PM
Julie Stewart

Do you think that New Mexico's high elevation played a role in the conditioning of Mine That Bird?  PS - Congrats on the Derby - I was there to watch and won $500 on MTB.... Thank you!!!

21 May 2009 5:50 PM

Great job with a great horse, he's all heart. How do you think he'll like Belmont?

21 May 2009 6:04 PM

Mr. Wooley

First, many congratulations on the success you and Mine That Bird have had.  Why did it take so long to discover that Mine That Bird's preferred running style was to lay back and make a huge run starting just before the final turn?  Did you ever experiment with that approach before the Derby?  If not, what made you and Calvin try that approach in the Derby?

Thanks much for many enjoyable moments.  You and that wonderful horse have greatly contributed to reviving racing fan and public interest in thoroughbred racing.


21 May 2009 6:12 PM
Dave Duran

Love your horse! The Breeder's Cup races are in California on synthetic surface. Your horse does well on any surface. Have you considered hiring a West Coast  jockey to take over Mine that Bird for the summer races out West? There are many highly qualified jocks here. It would be great to put the jockey who rode Lava Man onto Mine that Bird and let them roll on for many years to come.

21 May 2009 6:14 PM

Where does Mine That Bird head after the Belmont?

21 May 2009 6:20 PM
Ollie Besinger

Congratulations on your success with Mine That Bird.  With Mike Smith honoring his commitments out West on Belmont Day, and should Calvin Borel end up on Rachel Alexandra, any chance of fighting Girl Power with Girl Power and giving Chantal Sutherland the call?

21 May 2009 6:41 PM

Congratulations on your Derby Win.

My question is, what, over your career, have you found to be the best product for breathing in your horses?

21 May 2009 6:50 PM
Doctor Jazz

Is there one key feature about Mine That Bird's diet

that you can reveal that you think keeps him at his best?

21 May 2009 6:57 PM
darlene pettipas

MR.Wooley i would like to congradulate you on the awsome job you are doing with mine that bird ,he is a great horse and you have done a wonderfull job with him,keep up the great work hats off to you and the bird ,good luck in the future with him go and kick some ass ....darlene

21 May 2009 7:03 PM

What racing future do you envision for Mine That Bird?

Though this is most likely premature when Mine That Bird is retired, do you think the owners would consider placing him at the Kentucky Horse Park's Hall of Champions?  It would be wonderful to see him.

21 May 2009 7:09 PM

First, congrats to you and the Bird, well done! With a dad who won the Belmont and a grandpa who won the Derby and Super stud grandpa Smart Strike 50 to 1 was crazy!! My question is after the Belmont and perhaps Travers if the little guy stays healthy.. would you consider a run on the grass as a good prep race for the Breeder's Cup? Thanks and fingers crossed for the Belmont!

21 May 2009 7:14 PM
Sonoma John

Congratulations on your triple crown races!  My question... "Is Mine that Bird taking a first class airline flight home or does he have to ride back to New Mexico in the horse trailer?"  You all have earned a first class ticket in my view.  Enjoy this time!

21 May 2009 7:16 PM
Beth in SC

After the Belmont what are the plans for the "Birds" racing career? Obviously, breeding is off the table.

21 May 2009 7:26 PM
Davy Martenn

Did you once gallop horses for a QH trainer named Jim Ricahrdson at a track in Paducah, KY?

21 May 2009 7:37 PM
Matt Linkowski

hey chip

any chance of bringing that ringer(mine that bird) up to saratoga for the travers?  

21 May 2009 7:45 PM

First of all, congratulations on your success and continued success to you. I heard that Mine the Bird is on Adequan, if so can u tell me how often he gets it and how effective has it been for you.  Thanks so much in advance..

21 May 2009 8:03 PM
Jimmy Powell


I just wanted to tell you I think you've done a great job with the horse and the media . I hope Rachel runs in the Belmont, I don't think she can handle the distance. I would love to see Bird catch her on that long home streach and look her in the eye as he passes her by ! ! ! Oh, and do you realise how close you've come to the triple crown ?  

Bird by 2 lengths in the Belmont.


21 May 2009 8:11 PM
Ken from New Milford, CT

Mine That Bird has proven all the experts wrong.  How does that happen in the age of statistics and literally thousands of horse racing fans paying minute attention to every derby prep race?

21 May 2009 8:32 PM
Mary H.

I don't really have a question but I just wanted to say how much I am fan of Mine that Bird.  What he pulled off in the derby and preakness is truly amazing.  I just love a horse with that much grit to come from behind like he did.  I wish him the best in the belmont and I hope to see him have a amazing career.

21 May 2009 8:33 PM
Cheryl Edwards

The jockey that rode Mine That Bird in the KD thru the herd of horses is a work of art when you watch the replay. His skill as a rider is beyond anything I have ever seen.  If there are great moments in any event that should be remember in a life time. That one of them!!!

21 May 2009 8:38 PM

Chip, I don't know what you're doing but you must be doing it right.  What is your secret???

21 May 2009 8:46 PM
Dare Sutton

Since Mine that Bird is a gelding, how long do you and his other connections plan to keep him in training?

21 May 2009 8:49 PM
Teresa Hyndman

Congratulations Mr.Woolley on a tremendous achievement.Were you involved in the purchase of Mine that Bird for Double Eagle Farm, and what were your first impressions of the Canadian two year old champion?

21 May 2009 8:58 PM
John T.

Hi Chip,I thought it was very classy of you to praise the former trainer of Mine That Bird David Coatey on national television for the great job he had done with the horse after he won the Kentucky Derby.Up here in Canada we are very proud of the horse as he was our 2 year old champion.I hope he will go on and emulate his sire Birdstone and win the Belmont.

21 May 2009 9:03 PM
Karen Bauer

Hello MR. Wooley Jr, I would like to send fan mail. How long will you be at Churchill Downs?

Karen Bauer

Spring Creek, Nv

21 May 2009 9:17 PM

hi my name is sandy and what i would like to know is, what will happen to mine that bird when he retires? where will he go? what will he do??

21 May 2009 9:32 PM

mr woolley, congratulations on winning the derby & having the bird tuned up perfectly for the preakness. good luck @big sandy in the belmont. my question to you is after that race where do you take the big horse...will you stable back @ churchill or not... may i make a suggestion to you & say that the oklahoma training track @ saratoga is a great place to train & stable, its real laid back& quiet up until the meet starts, i really think you & your horse would love it up there. thanks for listening...............

21 May 2009 9:32 PM

Chip! First I want to say congrats on your success with Mine That Bird! He's terrific! What was the feeling of winning the most prestigious race in Amreica? Also Mine That Bird looks really tough and durable unlike most other horses. Has he ever been injured seriously or had to take time off? I wish more horses were like him, he's a fantastic horse all around:)

21 May 2009 9:38 PM
Errol Waugh

Evening, I just wanted to know what is it like being the trainer of a Derby winner and were you confident in him winning the Derby. Also I want to know what you training regime is like on a day to day basis and if you wanted a hand cause I am more than available.

21 May 2009 9:38 PM
John Boudreau

Chip_(Shifty!!) You and Charlie Have done a Fantastic job with The Bird>>After Watching his 2yr old races in Canada and now his 3yr old races I'm CONVINCED He's a Stone Cold Runner!! What's next after he WINS The Belmont!!??

21 May 2009 9:39 PM

Bennie...congratulations for your vision in finding, buying and developing MTB into a Derby winner.   I had a chance to watch this gutsy dude a few times at Woodbine and his heart was never a question.    Just wondering since this will appear a day after your self proclaimed deadline to find a Belmont jockey.....were Chantal Sutherland or Edgar Prado ever considered, if Borel wasn't re-enlisted?

Best of luck in the Belmont...i'll be rooting for you.    

21 May 2009 9:45 PM

When did you really feel that Mine that Bird was as good as he is? Would you say he is wirey build? And this makes him able to weave in and out of other horse easier?

And makes his running style a natural for him because of his size?

21 May 2009 9:49 PM
Nancy Guthrie

First I want to say I love MTB and had him in the Derby! What jockey do you want to ride him in the Belmont? I saw Joe Talamo! A Louisiana boy that is fearless against Calvin who is also from Louisiana fearless. Joe can do it for you!

21 May 2009 9:58 PM

Did you have at least some idea what kind of horse you had charge of when you took up training of Mine That Bird?  Has the horse been pretty much injury-free thoughout his racing career?

21 May 2009 10:01 PM

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