Chip Woolley Podcast - Listen Now!

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Chip Woolley bio

Transcript

Ron: First of all, Chip, welcome to Talkin’ Horses.

Chip: Thank you.

Ron: I know the fans appreciate you taking time to answer questions. We’ve had a lot of questions submitted and obviously, we can’t ask them all. We’ve grouped quite a few of them together that were along the same lines. I’ll start off with those questions.

First of all, after Monday’s workout, you declined to say who you might get to ride Mine That Bird in the Belmont if Calvin is unavailable. You said you were going to discuss that later on in the day yesterday with someone. Are you at liberty now to tell us who that is?

Chip: Actually, I’m not going to make a comment on that because he has a chance to pick up another horse in the race, and I’m not going to submarine him – jeopardize his chances of having a mount in the race. We’re just going to leave that alone for the time being.

Ron: I understand that. Next question – when did you decide that Mine That Bird was Kentucky Derby material and decide to point to that race?

Chip: Our plan all along had been to run in the Sunland Derby, and we figured we would win the Sunland Derby, we thought we had the best horse for sure. Our plan was to run in the Sunland Derby and then come to the Kentucky Derby, if we got in, which at that time we were on the list at like 23rd or something.

So we had been aiming at it for awhile. When we got beat in the Sunland Derby, we took a step back and made some other considerations. Over that two weeks’ period, Mark and I, of course, talked every day and I kept telling him this horse is training as good as he’s ever gonna be in his life. I said he’s just super right now, and I said I still think with a better trip around and better ride, that this horse is a better horse than all we’ve seen here. And with some more consideration, Mark and Doc talking with each other, we made the decision to come on out here.

But all the time … I mean even when we bought the horse, we thought that he could be a Derby horse.

Ron: And that brings us to our next overall general question that a lot of people have asked about and that concerns his running style. What indications did you have that he would be able to run that far from off the pace and his running style be suited to the Derby distance?

Chip: Well, the first thing is – I’ll be the first to say – I didn’t really ever plan on him being quite as far off pace as he was in the Kentucky Derby. I had intended for him to be maybe 15-18 back, but not 25-30 back. That happened at the gates getting run over leaving there kind of caused part of that.

My thinking on that from day 1, when we purchased this horse, I watched every replay that he had run in up in Canada, studied him very closely, and if you had watched those races, you can see that every time the rider would kind of ride him up close and then kind of back him up a little bit and then ride him back up close again and back him up again. Through the race, he made three or four small moves, but you can see when he moved, I mean he just swallowed back right up to him, I mean real quick.

In studying those races, I just felt like if you ever got him back and made one run instead of three or four mini runs, that it would serve the horse better and make him a better horse, instead of winning … a lot of the cup win races, he’d only win, just barely got by him to win. But he had two or three moves in the race that had taken some of the finish out of him.

So when I watched those races so many times, it was a tough decision buying this colt for $400,000 to start with, so I must have watched those races 30-40 times a piece to make that decision. As I watched him, I just kept watching that and thinking, and that’s what I intended to do at Sunland, and I just couldn’t get my rider what I was looking for. And the same thing he did down there both times, he moved the horse very early in the race and made the lead both times and just couldn’t hold it off, you know, but he just made too long of a turn.

Ron: That makes a lot of sense. Finally, from the long consensus of questions – what are your plans for the rest of the year with Mine That Bird, assuming he comes out of the Belmont okay. Would you consider the Travers, Breeders’ Cup; and also, do you think he has the potential to eventually be the next John Henry?

Chip: Well, I hope so. If he stays where he is right now, he’s going to have a long career and hopefully, he could be the next John Henry. We hope, you know, it’s great to have a gelding that will be in the game a long time as long as they can stay healthy.

As far as the rest of this year’s career, I mean, you know, your ultimate goal now at this point has to be the Breeders’ Cup obviously. We’re sure aiming there.

In between, we really haven’t made a hard decision on where we’re going to go. We’re actually mapping races right now to come up with a decision. There are several good opportunities out there, but timing is an issue. I think he needs a couple of months after the Belmont just to let him freshen just a little bit and try to have a break and recover from this – this is a grueling schedule that we’re on right now; so I would like a couple of months for the horse to kind of have just a bit of a break – maybe a couple of weeks off and then, you know, back six weeks or so of training to get to the next race. So that’s being considered in that.

Ultimately, I’d like to get two races between the Belmont and Breeders’ Cup if I get my drivers.

Ron: Now, for some more individual questions. This is from Jennie. I was wondering what your first reaction was when you found out that Mike Smith would not be riding the gelding back in the Belmont? Did you know this before the Preakness, or did you find out afterwards?

Chip: Actually, we found out after the Preakness. It was kind of … it was a bit of a shock, I guess not huge, I guess, but it was a bit of a shock because here you’ve got a colt that now has win one leg and just gotten beat in the second leg of the Triple Crown. It’s showing that he’s one of the top, top, top horses. It was kind of a shock, but then when you got the full story on it, you can’t blame Mike; I respect his decision, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly, of course. But those people had been very good to Mike; they’re great people in the business, they’re great for the game, and I sure don’t begrudge him making the decision he made.

I love riders that are loyal and his loyalty lies there, and so I really don’t have a problem with what he had done.

Ron: You’ve got to look at the fact of the shoe on the other foot, how you would feel, I guess.

Chip: Absolutely, I mean if had Zenyatta and several other topnotch horses like those people have, it they have been very good him – to Mike himself – I would expect the same loyalty if it was me.

Ron: Also, Jennie had another part of her question – did you ever considered flying Mine That Bird to the Derby and why did you decide to van him yourself?

Chip: I’m glad that question got asked. First of all, there are several parts to that, but one of them is yes, we had considered flying. The problem is there’s no ramp at Sunland Park where we were at. We were going to have to haul him all the way to Dallas to Lone Star Park to get a plane. Well, we were halfway there by the time you got there, so that kind of limited the point of flying him at that point. So that’s the main reason.

This horse really hauls well. I mean, some horses do, and some don’t. This horse, he loads in that van and we turn him loose in there in a box stall and he rests well, he eats, he drinks. He just really makes a trip well. As a matter of fact, I’m more nervous right now about flying him to Belmont than I would be about hauling him. I mean, the timing doesn’t work out very well, to haul him up there and the traffic problems you can get into and the time he’s going to have to spend on the trailer. Actually, I’m more nervous about flying him than I would be about hauling him.

Ron: I guess the concern there would be taking him out of his element a little bit as far as changing the routine you do with him and going to a race by flying him rather than hauling him in the van.

Chip: Exactly, and the horse is used to that trailer. He likes it. It doesn’t bother him a bit. When you watch him, he loads and he unloads off of there, just a slow walk, and it’s no problem. How he would handle an airplane ride, I mean, he’s been flown, so I’m not afraid to fly him, by no means, but you know, it’s just a little bit easier; you can make your own schedule, you don’t have to schedule around the flights – things like that, in my estimation, it’s as easy to haul.

Ron: Yeah, you got a lot more control.

Chip: Exactly.

Ron: Next question is from Olivia – What was the feeling of winning the most prestigious race in America?

Chip: That’s a tough one to describe. That’s pretty hard to describe the feeling. At first, it was elation of course, and then a little bit of shock. I mean, it’s the pinnacle of racing even worldwide, much less here in the United States. It was unbelievable. I don’t know how you describe it; it’s the most humbling experience that I have ever felt in my life.

You think it would make you feel huge or big, but I felt like the smallest thing in the world, and it’s an amazing, amazing feeling, but it’s something that you’ll never feel without doing it because I’ve never win races that big. Even talking with Carl Nafzger after the race, he had won some really big races prior to winning the Derby, and he was the same way. He said it was something that was indescribable and nothing else in the world can ever compared to.

Ron: Have you been surprised by everything that’s happened to you since then? I mean, all the publicity and just how everything seems to move so fast at that point?

Chip: It moves so fast – the first four or five days after the Derby, I was not enjoying at any. It was just moving so fast and you couldn’t get your head around the fact that you had won the Derby. It was hard to handle the people coming to you and people asking you millions of questions and cameras all around you.

Then after the 4 - 5 days, it started to be really enjoyable and ever since, it’s just like every day, it gets better. It’s the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had. You know, people coming up to you, just to talk you, and wants your autograph. I mean, it’s great. The fans make this game great. It’s a fantastic experience, something that you’d like to relive again now, you know. I guess after you win it the first time, it would probably be more enjoyable the second time because maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to get your head around that first week or so. And you know, you could just start enjoying it the moment you won it. But for me, it took a few days for it to sink in and to get a grip on what was happening in the whirlwind of the press and all the calls from home. I mean, they were great people calling, but there’s no way to answer them all and there’s just so much on your plate.

Ron: Kind of a related next question from Susan Kearney – Imagine you’re 80 years old and reminiscing, what will you remember most about this awesome time in your life?

Chip: That’s hard to say. Probably, as much as anything, I’ll remember the fans here, the people here. They treated us so well that you know you couldn’t ask for any more than to win an event here at Churchill and in Louisville, in general. The elation of the people and how happy they are and how they make you… you feel like top of the world. That would be probably the thing I carry with me the most.

Ron: Well, certainly you’ve given back to the fans – I think everybody knows by now that you and the owners shared the roses with the fans outside the Barbaro statue. That’s a great gesture that in my experience it’s unheard of.

Chip: Sure it was fun. It was really an enjoyable experience to see the people and how much they love the sport, how much they love the Derby and to actually take home a piece of the Derby not just a cap they bought or something else, but something that was really truly a piece of the Derby; the people really, really enjoyed it. We have gotten a lot of comments and compliments and thanks from people, the letters they send us. And it was something you’re very glad you did after the fact; it didn’t seem that significant at first, but turned out to be much more significant.

Ron: Steve from Missouri wants to know – Is the run you’ve had with Mine That Bird going to change your life a great degree, or are you determined to go back to New Mexico and just pick up where you left off before you came into the Classics?

Chip: Well, I mean, I hope to be back to the Classics and I wouldn’t even mind having a stable here in Kentucky or out here in the east, but whatever I do, I will remain a part of racing in New Mexico and whether I’m there full time or not, I will remain a part of the New Mexico racing scene. And I would like to have horses out here, I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a part of this. If you could get the kind of horses it takes to win races like this and to be a part of this type of race scene, who wouldn’t want to be here. But it started in New Mexico and it will end up there.

Ron: And that bring us straight along to the next question from Anna – Do you think because you won the Kentucky Derby and reigned second in the Preakness that more people will be asking you to train their horses?

Chip: I’m sure that that will happen. It’s like anything – in one way or another, you have to be validated in whatever profession you’re in and this is obviously a validation stamp on your record that can never be taken away. So I’m sure it will bring me more horses and hopefully to bring me horses that can come back here and be a part of this again.

Ron: Have you already had some of those overtures?

Chip: We’ve had people called and talked to few people but that really hasn’t started so much. I think everybody is still concentrating on the Triple Crown run, and you know, maybe once we passed to Belmont and things slow down a little bit, we’ll have time to look at that kind of stuff.

Ron: Next question from someone who goes by the name of Freetex – Though this is most likely premature, when Mine That Bird is retired, do you think the owners would consider placing him in the Hall of Champions at the Kentucky Horse Park, which I’m sure you’re probably aware that’s where John Henry was until he died?

Chip: That’s very possible. It’s hard to say what they’ll do to him and how long his career is going to last and what his health status is at the end of his career. There’s a lot that plays into that. We have had people ask us that same question and we will do whatever is best for our horse at that point in time to give him the best life that he can have beyond racing. Even Mark said he’ll never want for anything the rest of his life if he has to build him his own paddock right out in front of his house at Roswell. So we’ll see what happens. It would be great to give him back to racing in a venue like the Horse Park; so that would be a distinct possibility down the road.

Ron: Next question from Joseph – You being a trainer from New Mexico, is there anything that you do different with your horses that most of the big named trainers may not do with their horses?

Chip: A few maybe, but not a lot different. I mean, we all have our own way of doing things. Like me, I know out here they like to jog horses a lot. And me, I’m more of a 2-mile gallop trainer; I think the horses get a little more out of it – a few things like that. But overall, I mean we all do similar things. We’d be all individualized in our own way, I guess.

Ron: I guess also at the same time, there are certain styles of training, certain methods that are more regionalized than others.

Chip: Sure there are, and then you have just the individual thinking of trainers is just different. Whether it’s your feed program, your training program, your tracking program, whatever it is, I mean, everybody has somewhat of their own program and that’s part of why some horses like it in one stable and not in another. You claim horses and sometimes they get better, and you claim some and they might get worse, and it’s hard to tell what it is, but sometimes it’s just a little small things in your training program that are different from somebody else.

Ron: And I guess you come to those conclusions just based on experience, what has worked and what hasn’t worked for you over the years.

Chip: Exactly, I’ve spent time around a lot of trainers over the years of friends and different things and you know, like all professions, trainers talk to each other and discuss things – if something worked for him and didn’t work for me, or something worked for me that didn’t work for him. So over the years, you kind of trial and error, try different things and some of them work, some of them don’t. And if they don’t work, you quit them, if they do work, you stick with them and try to add that to your repertoire of things that you do.

Ron: Next question up from Cgriff – You have spoken a great deal about Mine That Bird’s attitude, intelligence and closing kick. I’ve also noticed that he’s very handy and athletic. What single trait of all these that he has do you feel contributes most to his ability and success?

Chip: I would say his ability to finish – he’s a horse that can run a long way and by changing his running style like we did, it gives him such a big finish that I would say it’s his speed and ability to run long.

The great thing about him is that with his attitude and not getting excited prior to racing, not getting nervous and shook up, increases that ability considerably because horses can weigh so much in the paddock and post parade prior to ever leaving the gates to start running. And he’s a horse that doesn’t do that. The people who saw him when we saddled him at the Preakness – of course, I’m on one leg and I handed my crutches to my friend and he held my crutches while I saddled him and the horse never moved one step, I never had to hop one time – he just stands there and watches the crowd and does his thing. He makes it a lot easier to train when you got a horse with that much character and that’s so intelligent. That’s one notch of the game that you don’t have to worry about with him that other horses you have to worry about that, whether you gallop them the morning of the race or do something different to keep them saddled or get them to relax. With him, that’s just one aspect of the game you can leave alone.

But I think his greatest ability is the fact that he can run so far.

Ron: And I guess that laidback attitude he has and some other horses have, sometimes it gives fans of the wrong idea before a race to see how relax they are and they think, well you know, perhaps he’s not ready and they see another horse that’s really keyed up and on his toes, they think that horse is going to run the race of his life. And in the end, it’s the relaxed horse that’s there at the wire and the keyed up horse has already exerted way too much energy.

Chip: You’re exactly right. And I love a horse that will go out there and just be relaxed and calm. He knows what his job is and he’s ready to go do it and it just takes so much less out of him. They’re not sweating and trying to dehydrate themselves and they’re not building that lactic acid in the muscles by just sitting there bouncing, bouncing. You know that a lot of those things play a big role in a horse finishing so strongly.

Ron: Next question from Kimberly – In light of the success that Mine That Bird that has had, do you feel any disappointment at the fact he’s a gelding and he’s going to miss the breeding opportunity?

Chip: Absolutely not. You know, we purchased this horse to run. He was a gelding when we bought him. And even if he were a stud, he’s not a spectacular individual that would really hit a homerun in a stud barn to start with. He’s a little incorrect and that’ll hurt you at the stud barn.

I have no second thoughts about that. I mean, the fact of the matter is if he was still a stud, he might not be the runner he is right now because studs tend to be more amped up, they tend to be meaner, have a lot of personality problems. And I’m sure that’s why this horse was cut to start with and they said he was pretty ornery when he was a baby and now he’s so laidback, I think that that’s just really not an issue of any kind.

Ron: And I guess that’s one thing people need to keep in mind when they think of geldings that just that whole possibility that they would not have turned out to be the star that they are had they not been cut, that there would have been too many other issues that would’ve stood in a way of that great career.

Chip: Exactly.

Ron: Next question from Kristen – What advice would you give to aspiring trainers?

Chip: That’s kind of a tough question but…

Ron: Pretty broad, isn’t it?

Chip: It’s pretty broad. The main advice I would give is hard work pays off and you know, I went broke couple of times in this business and I had to basically start over and just never giving up and believing in yourself, don’t believe in everybody around you. Don’t worry about what everybody else thinks. Do your own thing and believe in yourself and give yourself the opportunity to be a winner. Don’t let somebody else take that opportunity away from you.

Ron: That’s a great advice not just for aspiring trainers, but for anybody who wants to succeed.

Next question from Darci – What does Mine That Bird like on a day to day basis? Does he have any interesting quirks?

You’ve already mentioned the fact, he’s very laidback, relaxed and intelligent. What about interesting quirks that he does – anything unique or funny that he does on a daily basis?

Chip: Probably the main one is he’ll stand there in his stall when he knows that he’s going to get out, and he’ll stand there and tap his left foot and kind of bob his head. He’ll stand there – first, you think he’s going to start pawing or something, but he just taps his foot on the ground and says hey, come and get me. Let’s go. And that’s probably his biggest quirk. He likes to nibble and chew around on things, but the main one probably is that little foot tap he likes to do.

Ron: Kathleen O’Malley asks – What’s his favorite snack? Is he a carrot’s guy, a peppermint’s guy?

Chip: That kind of stuff is really not on my horse’s diet, so he don’t get many treats. I’m pretty strict about diet and I keep everything just like I want it. So he doesn’t get any candy, and he doesn’t really like carrots. Now and then we’ve got some little horse treats, I don’t even know what they’re called, to be honest, and we give him one of them now and then, but for the most part, he doesn’t get that kind of stuff.

Ron: So you feed him basically a healthy diet.

Chip: Absolutely. I’ve got a very strict grain and feeding program and I really don’t like any kind of messing with it. The thing with feeding horses candy is, I mean, that’s fine feeding him peppermint but then somebody will give him a piece of chocolate that can get you in big trouble. The caffeine in chocolate can get you in big trouble. So if you don’t feed him anything, there’s no chance of that kind of stuff happening.

Ron: Peggy wants to know – Why don’t you go ahead and take Mine That Bird up to Belmont to train up for the race? It appears to me that a lot of horses’ stables are trained at that track and do well in the race. And would it not benefit your horse to take a look at the long stretch and deep footing?

Chip: Well, the main thing is, is the horse had to breeze twice between Preakness and Belmont. And if you take him up there and he struggles with the track at all, you take a chance of hurting him, straining muscles, you’re pulling on different muscles. If you run over it one time, even if he does sore up a little afterwards, you’re not faced with that going into the race, and that’s the main reason.

The other reason was that he’s really relaxed here at Churchill. He likes it here. When I take him to Pimlico, he never settled in there as well. He gets over the track here so well that we just felt more comfortable with him here training and didn’t feel like changing it up, it was a real good idea. I mean he trained very well here, went into the Preakness and run huge there. It felt like he ran a winning race and we just didn’t get the trip.

So, I mean, I just don’t think that being over there, training over that track – they call that track the big stand, being it’s loose and deep, and it’s a little bit harder on your horse than Churchill’s racetrack is. So I figured the less time he had to spend on it, the better.

Ron: And also as you say, if he is going to be on that track then make it the one and only in the Belmont because you’re giving him a break after that anyway.

Chip: Sure, exactly and we can let him run over – he handles about any kind of surface very well. He just really trains good here at Churchill, so we’ll just take up here on Wednesday. He’ll gallop Thursday, Friday and run Saturday and then probably ship out of there soon as we can get him out of there.

Ron: Shipping back to New Mexico to go home after that?

Chip: Probably back here to Churchill and then make a decision from there. I was telling you earlier that we got a few opportunities out here we need to … later this next week, we’ll sit down and try to map out a hard program of what we’re going to go with, but at this point, we haven’t really decided. Probably, he could race out here in the east another time or two prior to the Breeder’s Cup.

Ron: Julie Stewart asks – Do you think that New Mexico’s high elevation played a role in the conditioning of Mine That Bird, and I guess the other horses in your stable?

Chip: I believe it does play some role. How much is hard to say. I mean, did it make him win by 7 instead of 5? It’s hard to say, you know, but I think it plays some role but you’ve got to remember now, where he came from at Sunland Park is only about 3600 feet – so that’s not a real high elevation. So it probably could play small role but I’ll say not a very large role.

Ron: A factor but more of a nominal factor.

Chip: Exactly. A good example is I think you saw in the Preakness, he had been out here long enough by then that the altitude was of no factor, and he was running over them down the lane in the Preakness. So that kind of shows you that it kind of erases some of the idea that the altitude was of a major, major role.

Ron: Pam Godwin asks – Does Mine That Bird have a barn name or nickname?

Chip: We just call him The Bird.

Ron: The Bird?

Chip: The Bird.

Ron: That works. Bill Pottetti asks – With the Belmont upon us knowing your horse’s grit and stamina, where will you let him go – at the quarter pole or do you leave that decision to your jockey?

Chip: Some of that will be of the jock because you’re going to have to make a decision – if you’re 10 from the lead at the 3H pole, you can wait. If you’re 20 from the lead at the 3H pole, you’re going to have to make a move. So it’s gonna come down to the rider making that decision when he gets around there to that point. And you know, hopefully we won’t be too far off the pace there. It’s a little harder to close over that deep of a racetrack. So you know, it’s going to come down to the rider making the right decision.

Ron: Alina H, she prefaces her question by saying that she believes Rachel Alexander had a little bit of an unfair advantage in the Preakness due to the weight allowance given fillies. So her question is – Do you agree that the Triple Crown Race rules should be changed to ensure that fillies and males carry equal weight?

Chip: Well, I think if they’re going to play on an equal playing field that they should carry the same weight, but the flipside of that same coin is that we knew the rules when we went in and she got the filly weight and that’s the way it is in this race. I’ll give her all the credit she’s deserves that she beat me and that’s just the way that is.

Ron: Next question from Hannah from Texas – Who are some of your heroes, both on and off the track? In other words, who do you look up to as individuals?

Chip: If you’re talking in the racing world, I would probably – Carl Nafzger is one of them. Even Wayne Lucas – I mean Wayne has done something that nobody else has done. He’s a great horseman. Bobby Baffert – another guy that – those guys came from nowhere with nothing to get to where they were at and they deserve a lot of credit for what they’ve done. They’re the people I look up to that never let anything stand in their way and went out and took it. So they’re probably the people I look up to most.

There’s a lot of great horsemen out there that never made it to this point that I look up to also, but most people wouldn’t know who they are.

Ron: Well, you’re following in some great footsteps with just those you named there for sure.

Chip: Yeah, all of them came from where I came from. It’s kind of amazing.

Ron: So you could definitely relate, can’t you?

Chip: Yes sir.

Ron: Susie Blackmon asks – Do you bring your farrier with you when travel to big races or do you just pick up somebody local?

Chip: Actually, that’s a good question. I didn’t bring him with me but he did fly out the day before yesterday and shod my horse on Sunday afternoon, we shod him. But if the horse stays out here, he’ll fly each time to shoe him. Now if I need some help, one of his friends out here will give me a hand and stick a shoe on or something. But you sure don’t want to make any changes to your horse while he’s out here, and you know for the price of a plane ride, it’s cheap insurance not make any changes in your horse.

Ron: Cooper asks – With your new celebrity status, how do you and the owners keep a level head and do what is right by the horse?

Chip: Well, the horse has to come first. He’s the one that brought you here. So no matter what happens with the rest of us, we make our decisions based on what’s best for the horse. It’s like I told everybody when they asked about the Preakness immediately following the Derby, I said you'll have give me a couple of days, let me see how my horse is and we’ll make that decision then. He’s going to come first in every decision we make.

Ron: Carrie wants to know – How do you feel about synthetic tracks and the affect they have on the horses and their careers?

Chip: Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the synthetic surface but I haven’t had experience to be very knowledgeable on it. I’ve purchased horses off the synthetics and took them back to the dirt and they ran better. But overall, I’m just not a person with the knowledge of the synthetics to be making that decision. I’ve raced primarily on dirt and really haven’t had the experience with synthetic to make that decision. And some synthetics I do know are better than others, and I just haven’t had the experience to deal with it to make a real educated answer to that question.

Ron: As a follow up – Mine That Bird spent a great deal of his 2 year old year racing on synthetics, do you think that helped keep him around to do what he’s been able to do as a 3 year old, or do you think that’s not a factor?

Chip: I don’t believe that’s a factor. I mean, some horses stay sound and some don’t. I think he’s just the kind of horse that he gets over the ground really lightly, he doesn’t hit the ground hard. He runs equally well on the dirt, maybe even a little better. His numbers went up on the dirt anyway. I don’t feel like the dirt or the synthetics has helped him or hurt him either one; I think it’s just some horses stay sound. I mean I've got horses in my barn that are … I’ve got a 12 year old, that went his last out and he’s run on dirt all of his life, and he’s still just a 100% sound. So you just don’t … it’s hard to say what makes one sounder or less sounder than another. Just like in humans, I mean, you can all run on the same jogging trail and one comes back bad and one isn’t, you know. So it’s just really hard to say.

Ron: Is it 12-year-old thoroughbred or a quarter horse?

Chip: Quarter horse. That one in particular, but I’ve had a couple of 12-year-old thoroughbreds too that were still winning and healthy. So pretty amazing.

Ron: We have a couple of more questions. First of all, Davy Martenn wants to know – Did you ever gallop horses down in Paducah for a trainer named Jim Richardson – a quarter horse trainer?

Chip: I certainly did. As a matter fact, I galloped this horse right up until I had my wreck on my motorcycle. I galloped horses all over the country, but I certainly did in Paducah.

Ron: And Wendy wants to know – Who designed and made your very cool belt buckle commemorating your Derby win?

Chip: A girl named Kelsey Maynard – they live out in New Mexico and they make belt buckles for all kinds of rodeo events – everything. And she was very sweet. She was there for the Derby and went back home and when they came out for the Preakness, she brought me that buckle, and I appreciate it dearly.

Ron: Listen Chip, that runs out of all the questions … of course, as I said, we had a couple of hundred questions, it probably could have gone on all day. I just wanted to cut it down to the biggest ones and the most important ones. I really appreciate you taking your time. Good luck in the Belmont. And we’ll see you down the road.

Chip: Sounds good. Thank you.

27 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Freetex

I was thrilled to have a question selected and the answer regarding the possibility of visiting Mine That Bird at The Kentucky Horsepark when he is retired from racing.

26 May 2009 6:36 PM
wildboar65

Just want to say that I appreciate Chip and The Bloodhorse Staff for the interview. I enjoyed it and became a bigger fan. I hope Chip gets some top prospects for his efforts, and does well in the future.

26 May 2009 6:43 PM
lobieb

I must say that after listening to Mr. Wooley I find him to be a very sincere trainer wanting the best for MTB.  Sounds like he is a strict "daddy" who doesn't want his charge to have bad teeth from eating peppermints. (s) but hey he knows what is best for his horse.  I must say I find him a "good ole boy" whom I hope brings MTB back a winner from the Belmont. Go little guy.

26 May 2009 6:54 PM
Maxine

I want to congratulate and thank you,your horse, and the owners on the true joy, the wonderful experiences, and thoughtful comments and actions you have provided me and other fans. I've been a horse racing fan ever since I watched the 1957 Ky Dby on TV when I was in the 2nd grade, and also worked with horses to some extent. I am very concerned about the future of racing; I think your team has helped racing a great deal, but there is much more to be done. Do you have any suggestions or comments to share in this regard? Personally, I think the popularity of horse racing has waned at least in part due to the increasing urbanization of our country and the increasing age of many of us with actual contact with horses. Those who don't really know horses 1st hand probably, in most cases, don't have the background and connection to readily appreciated these animals. Lots of people play baseball, basketball, ski etc.,so I feel they would naturally have more affinity to enjoy following those activities. I think losing Hollywood Park would be a great waste and real tragedy. The LA area doesn't need another shopping mall, theatre complex, etc. How can we change peoples' priorities? I have some ideas: Do you? You are in a unique position to try to show folks the values of horses and horse racing.  Next question: who are some of your favorite horses, both from past and present and both from knowledge of their accomplishments/attributes, and from personal familiarity with others? Thanks for a job well-done and for being an exemplary model of the good in horse racing.

26 May 2009 9:02 PM
Delrene Sims

Jockey?  How about Stewart elliott- the jockey for Smarty Jones- who got beat only once ( by Mine that Bird's Dad) Birdstone.  Wouldn't that be just great!

26 May 2009 9:20 PM
Fran Doos

Very down to earth and extremely humble about his Kentucky Derby win.  I hope he remains grounded in the future as he is today.  A breath of fresh air.  I believe Mine that Bird's "lay back" attitude is a tribute to Mr. Wooley's lay back personality.  Good Luck in your future endeavers Mr. Wooley!

27 May 2009 1:45 AM
da3hoss

Super interview.

27 May 2009 7:03 AM
Jane Berryhill Hobbs

Comment: Chip, in my opinion, is a top-notch person. His answer concerning Mike Smith's decision not to ride Mine That Bird in the Belmont shows real class. Best wishes to him, Mine That Bird and the connections.

27 May 2009 9:49 AM
Gary

will Mine that Bird, get the Distance Belmont June 06 2009 ? or we he Bounce off 2 Tough Races, Derby and Preakness ?

27 May 2009 11:13 AM
map

Thanks for an excellent interview.  Good luck to Mine That Bird in the Belmont and future races.

27 May 2009 2:12 PM
olivia

i lloove chip

27 May 2009 2:20 PM
olivia

my question got aked=] yay

27 May 2009 2:21 PM
liv

great

27 May 2009 2:22 PM
frenchycatz

Great interview. I was glad to hear Mr Woolley puts the horses first. He must be on the right track if has 12yr olds still racing. I wish every success to the little champion Mine that Bird.

27 May 2009 5:55 PM
RGGC

Glad I got to hear his interview. He sounds like a great guy and I am glad Mine That Bird is in his hands. I hope his owners appreciate him.

I wrote to him and said if he ever had a movie done about him, he should have Viggo Mortensen play him.  Woody Harrelson would be a bad choice if Viggo isn't available. I wonder what he thought when he read that.LOL His and Mine That Bird's story would make another great movie like Seabiscuit.

Are you listening Laura Hillenbrand?!

27 May 2009 6:39 PM
anna

heres to hoping that mine that bird or as he calls him the bird will win the belmont stakes on to being named the 3yr old champion this yr.

27 May 2009 11:48 PM
Story Teller

What a wonderful interview! I feel as if I've known Chip all my life now. What a cool guy... :)

I certainly believe that a movie of Chip's story with Mine That Bird would no doubt be the next blockbuster. I have my own ideas about the future of horse racing that many feel is losing its value of appreciation. Personally, I don't think that will ever happen as long as the people remain true to the sport, such as; Chip Woolley, Calvin Borel, Nick Zito, Todd Pletcher and so many others that will always remain true, who have brought us years of pleasure in the sport. But that includes all

of us with our utmost respect.

When it comes to those that are concerned about the future of racing... maybe they need to re-listen to the old tune of Jackie DeShannon who was born in Kentucky. During the 60's revolution she released a hit single titled; "What The World Needs Now Is Love Sweet Love"

I thought of that song after I listened to the interview with Calvin Borel just after his victory with Mine That Bird in The Kentucky Derby. Calvin's tearful interview brought tears to my own eyes as I watched this little man whose heart was big as life.

I could hardly wait for the podcast

with Chip Woolley whose heart is also as big as life. One that truly cares about his horses just as all the rest. Mine That Bird has proven that. Chip knew his horse, and told exactly how it was to be done, and when the little man with the big heart took the mount, he did it right and brought the victory. I'll never forget that day as long as I live and yes, I came home a winner too. I had a feeling that Calvin would do it and he did.

I have just finished a fiction novel about an abandoned racehorse that will certainly touch the hearts of many. Hope everyone will keep their fingers crossed for me as I will soon present it for publishing or production. It will be my contribution toward the future of horse racing, the beautiful majestic animals that I so love.

Cheers to all of you who stay true to the sport and who keep the faith about the future of horse racing.

28 May 2009 12:06 AM
MtB Nut

ROTFL...they picked my question about treats. The way Chip answered had me laughing. He seems very genuine. All racing TB's need trainers like him. He has a very unique personality. I still remember after the Derby, a reporter following and asking if he'd fly MtB, and Chip just brushed him off with a really gruff, "NO!" and scrambled off.

28 May 2009 12:09 AM
Terra

Very good interview! Chip sounds like a great trainer/person always placing the horses health 1st, sharing Mine That Bird's victory with the fans, & understanding that Mike Smith is committed to Zenyatta. I just wish Rachel's owner & trainer would stop being so wishy washy about whether to enter her or not in the Belmont enabling Chip, Borel, & the unknown jockey to complete their plans for it!

28 May 2009 2:04 AM
John Boudreau

Great Interveiw>>> Shifty>(thats his nickname in NM) you and Charlie Fig. have done a GREAT job with The Bird!!After watching his races at 2 and now at 3 I'm convinced he is a Stone Cold Runner>> After ya Win the Belmont>>Go the Jim Dandy >Travers route and then bring him back to NM for the State fair Handicap as a Prep for the Cup>>GOOD LUCK!!

28 May 2009 8:58 AM
Jennie

Was very honored that you picked two of my questions to ask Chip!  I think he's a breath of fresh air from the usual trainer-speak that we get on the Triple Crown trail!  Thanks for doing this podcast!

28 May 2009 7:05 PM
Sam

Wonderful interview.  Great website and thanks so much for making all of the thoroughbred racehorse info available to the public.  Thanks, Chip and MTB, for a very memorable 2009 TB season.

28 May 2009 11:54 PM
Meleen

Thank you for letting us savor "The Bird's" Derby win and his awesome run in the Preakness through your interview with his devoted trainer, Chip Wooley. Mr.  Wooley, thank you for your wisdom--"Do your own thing and believe in yourself and give yourself the opportunity to be a winner. Don’t let somebody else take that opportunity away from you."  My heart beats a liite faster watching "The Bird" run and now as your words echo in my mind . . .

29 May 2009 1:25 AM
ponychick

I'll tell you - it NTRA and racing in general want more fans - they need more Chip Wooleys.  Throughout all the media and interviews one thing has been crystal clear - the horse comes first.  Mr. Wooley is relatable, genial, makes the horse the priority, and this is what fans can relate to.  He's shown nothing but class no matter what has been thrown his way.  

29 May 2009 12:51 PM
Kincsem

Stallions can be very sweet. Mine is and he is friendly also.He is a stakes winner. Carrots are very nutritious and an excellent source of biotin as well as having protein and other vitamins and minerals. They can improve a horses feet. My horse gets 3 carrots per day(one with every meal).  

04 Jun 2009 9:28 PM
Terry

Wonderful interview! The Bird may be New Mexican now, but all of Canada has adopted him. Best of luck to the Bird and all of his connections for the future. Win or lose, I love that Bird!

12 Jun 2009 12:55 AM
Gary Galdieri

" Mine that Bird " I, believe always on any given Sunday, a Racehorse, like a Athlete all can Win, if on there Game, just like the Movie Al Pacino- On Any Given Sunday " However, I, have been a Race Horse Fan, for 35 yrs, and If I, can just give my opinion on Belmont Race, Calvin Borel, a Classy guy, a Classy trainer I,  was very surprised he moved Mine That Bird, way to soon as so many other Jock,s have done at the Belmont 1 1/2 Mile Race he even surprised Kent Desormeaux, on the other Bird, ? couldn't believe with a 1/2 Mile to run Calvin took the lead at the 3/4 pole, a huge dissapointment for Fans, and me  I, Bet Mine that Bird, and I, dont think he was the best Horse, that day, but race would have been much closer, and would have got second, but hung, and quit the last 1/16th of a Mile, had ' NO HORSE LEFT ' out of Gas !  Calvin, all though is a great rider, he blew the Belmont was way to anxious, to get to Winners-Circle, should have had Ice, in his Veins, like so many past Good Jock,s Eddie Arcaro, Pat Day, Ron Turcotte, George Woolf ' THE ICE MAN, Statue stands at Santa Anita,  I, just would like to say his lack of Belmont experience on a tiring Sandy Oval, and pushing the Button to soon, ruined Mine that Bird, for at least second place.

Calvin, will forever wonder whats its like to redo that race, in History if he could ? like so many Champion Race Horses, before him, ! Belmont the Graveyard of Favorites, once again prevailed and a Jockey, miss timing a move to soon compromised  Mine that Bird, for not only a better Race, but for second place. Hated to see that premature move, Kent Desormeaux, on Real Quiet, learned that lesson riding to soon, cost him the Belmont Race in the past I, knew watching the Race, Calvin not only took the long way Home, on the outside, he just didn't ride "Mine that Bird' correctly and will forever go down as a another Dissapointment for Fans, to see a True Quality Champion . now my question what are plans for "Mine that Bird" back to Sunland in New Mexico ?

15 Jun 2009 11:18 AM

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