The second-biggest longshot in the 135 year history of the Kentucky Derby won the race on Saturday. Mine That Bird had been the Canadian two-year-old champion last year and had been running at Sunland Park in New Mexico, where he couldn't win in two races. He did win four times at Woodbine, including the Grade 3 Grey Cup Stakes, named after the CFL's championship trophy. The trainer vanned the horse 21 hours from New Mexico to Kentucky for the race. The horse's previous highest Beyer speed figure was an 81.
All of this prompts the biggest question of all from Saturday's race, how was this horse only 50-1? Even the other 50-1 shots had field-comparable Beyer figures. Mine That Bird, by all rights, should have been closer to Donerail's 91-1 odds that he won with in 1913. There are only two answers that come to mind, either there was a huge contingent of Audubon Society members watching the race or everyone that had him took a chance on Calvin Borel. The trainer, Chip Woolley, admitted that he owed the win to Borel after the race and it was a masterful ride to be sure. If you have a chance to see it, go back and watch the overhead shot of the race to see a genius in action with Borel hugging and, at some points, touching the rail.
Saturday's events, however, truly prove why horse racing is such a magnificent sport. Stables like Godolphin, Darley, Winstar, and others try desperately to win the Kentucky Derby every year. In fact, Godolphin has stated over and over that their biggest goal is to win the Derby. Godolphin and their love of the sport has truly helped racing over the last several years while they have been trying to win the Roses by pouring money into their efforts and building a first and now a second magnificent facility in the desert at Dubai. Saturday just showed why you cannot buy those Roses, just like a golfer cannot buy a Green Jacket. You can spend all kinds of money on fabulously-bred, expensive horses and you can run up the track. Meanwhile, a $9,500 purchase can come from absolute nowhere, fly up the rail, win by the largest margin since 1946 for a trainer on crutches and two owners who looked intimidated to be talking to Bob Costas and become the darling of the equine world.
It certainly is some game, isn't it?
Tune it tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!
Photo courtesy of UPI.com