Bloomfield horse trainer Chip Woolley isn't surprised the story of 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird winning the Kentucky Derby is being made into a movie.

"I was sure that would happen: It's just a good story," Woolley said.

"Winning the Derby is reserved mainly for the elite blue bloods in the racing business," he added. "When a guy comes from somewhere like New Mexico to win it, it's a big story."

Jim Wilson, Academy Award-winning producer of "Dances With Wolves," will direct and the production team includes Santa Fe resident Tony Mark, executive producer of Academy Award-winner "The Hurt Locker."

Mine That Bird himself and three-time Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel are being considered for roles. Pre-production begins in February.

Woolley, trainer of Mine that Bird, the famed underdog thoroughbred that won last year's Derby, said he has known for a while that a movie was planned.

He was interviewed six months ago for the script, though he's unsure how much his own life story will figure into it. He hasn't heard what actor might play him.

"If they do it right and keep it factual, I think it'll be a great movie," he said.

The long-time quarterhorse trainer races thoroughbreds at SunRay Park in Farmington.

He met Mine That Bird owner Mark Allen after Woolley intervened during a New Mexico bar fight.

Woolley injured his leg in a motorcycle accident and on crutches hauled Mine That Bird across the country in his trailer to Louisville, Ky.


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Mine That Bird recorded slow workout times and some experts picked him to finish last. But the horse burst from last place into first and earned $1.24 million.

Woolley was at Albuquerque's Zia Park on Friday. Woolley, trainer of 40 horses and owner of some of them, travels the New Mexico circuit.

He no longer trains Mine That Bird. Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas took over earlier this year.

The horse will race in the dirt mile at the Breeders' Cup in Churchill Downs today, Blach said. Movie producers were with him at the Breeders Cup on Friday to learn more about the horse racing industry.

"It's going to be a story about both Mark and I, but the emphasis is going to be about an underdog horse, which is Mine That Bird, and you might say an underdog trainer that hadn't been known nationally at all," Blach said.

Lonnie Barber, SunRay director of racing, has known Woolley for three decades. Woolley used to spend time at the track with Barber's son, Mike, and Barber considers the trainer a part of his family.

"Back then, all you worried about was getting them grown up to where we hoped we would get them to doing something besides messing around at the race track," he said. "But ironically, both of them are still here; they're still in the business."

Barber recalls when Woolley told him he hoped the horse wouldn't embarrass New Mexicans in the Derby and at least make a strong finish.

Barber believes the movie will provide positive exposure for New Mexico horse racing in a sport normally dominated by tracks in the South and the east and west coasts.

"It was great for racing then and it will still be great for racing," he said.

Steve Lynn: slynn@daily-times.com

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