...in Chandler, Arizona, here are the top three best moments from the 2009 Triple Crown series, as judged by your humble blog host.
#3- The post-Derby interview that NBC's Donna Brothers got with Calvin Borel while he was still aboard Mine That Bird. That interview showed why nearly everyone in the racing game loves Borel. His first thoughts were of his late parents and what their thoughts would have been in the wake of his second Derby victory. He then earnestly described the trip he got up the rail and seemed like the happiest person at Churchill Downs that day.
#2- Rachel Alexandra's win in the Preakness from the far outside (#13) post position. She stamped her case as the best three-year-old in the country, male or female, by becoming the first filly to win the Preakness in over eighty years. Also worthy of mention is the subsequent brilliant decision of her connections (Jess Jackson and Steve Asmussen) NOT to run her in the Belmont Stakes. After her staggering 20-length win in the Kentucky Oaks and the Preakness score, she was deserving of some rest and relaxation prior to what promises to be an epic summer campaign.
#1- How can you not go with Mine That Bird becoming the second-longest shot in the 135-year history of the Kentucky Derby to win the race? The entire story is worthy of screenplay material from Hollywood. Mine That Bird was Canadian two-year-old champion in 2008 with just a graded win in the Grey Stakes at Woodbine to stake his claim to even being in the Derby. The horse runs up the track in the Sunland Park Derby (which better be graded going forward) and then the trainer (on crutches) vans the horse over 1,000 miles to Churchill Downs for the race, which no one thought he had a chance in. The horse then gets hopelessly squeezed back at the start and left nearly 30 lengths off the pace, at which point he commences a miracle run up the rail under Borel, bursting through the tightest spot ever at the rail and drawing off to win by 6 3/4 lengths (the largest margin of victory since Assault in 1946). Borel even waves good-bye to the horses he left behind with his whip as he approaches the wire. To watch the greatest angle of Mine That Bird's win, go to http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/3032808 and click on "Overhead view of Mine That Bird's win" under the Kentucky Derby section.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!