Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird is in need of yet another jockey.
Mike Smith, who rode the gelding to a second-place finish in the Preakness, won't ride him in the Belmont Stakes on June 6 because of a previous commitment. Smith is already set to ride Madeo in the Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap at Hollywood Park that day.
The Hall of Fame rider is sticking with Madeo out of his loyalty to owners Jerry and Ann Moss and trainer John Shirreffs. Together, they won the 2005 Kentucky Derby on Giacomo, who like Mine That Bird, was a 50-1 shot.
"It was something that was already done beforehand and it's not going to change," Smith said. "They're my No. 1 and no one else. It would've been nice if the timing was different, but I have no regrets whatsoever."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
That means Calvin Borel, who rode Mine That Bird to a stunning victory in the Derby, could get back on him for the Belmont if Rachel Alexandra doesn't run.
"There's never been a situation like this in history. This is wild," Smith said, referring to the multiple jockey changes. "This has nothing to do with respect for the horse. I think everyone knows he's for real. It's just the way it is."
Brad Pegram, Smith's agent, told Chip Woolley Jr., who trains Mine That Bird, of the jockey's decision on Monday. Woolley had been planning to use Smith in the Belmont, regardless of whether Rachel Alexandra runs.
"It's kinda funny," Woolley said. "You'd think if you get a horse this good, you'd keep one, but apparently not. So we'll deal with that here in a couple of days and we'll see what happens."
Woolley said he won't wait to see whether Rachel Alexandra goes on to the Belmont.
"We're going to make a decision pretty quickly, so we'll see what happens," Woolley said. "Patience is probably the number one concern. Is somebody patient and will they wait and see how things develop. We'll just have to see how it goes."