2009 Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird, is leaving the barn of trainer Chip Woolley and is on his way back to Kentucky where he will be placed in the barn of D. Wayne Lukas. Woolley, of course, will always be remembered for that Derby win, which also happened to be the last victory of Mine That Bird's career thus far. Woolley transporting the horse by van from New Mexico to Kentucky with a broken leg and then hobbling around Churchill Downs on crutches will be one of the greatest stories in the history of the Derby, especially given Mine That Bird's 50-1 odds in the wagering.
However, as I said, Mine That Bird has not won since the First Saturday In May 2009 despite some very strong efforts. He ran second behind Horse Of The Year, Rachel Alexandra, in the Preakness. He ran third behind eventual three-year-old champion, Summer Bird, in the Belmont. He then ran third in the West Virginia Derby behind Soul Warrior and a ridiculous pace set-up against which the horse really had no chance. His trip to Southern California for the Breeders' Cup resulted in two off-the-board results on a synthetic surface he clearly didn't care for. He has not been to the racetrack for a race since the Breeders' Cup letdown.
According to the drf.com story on the move, Mine That Bird's co-owner, Leonard Blach, said when asked about the move, "I don't know how to answer that." Allow me to take a stab at it for Mr. Blach. He and his co-owner, Mark Allen, have gotten caught up with the star power of a new trainer and took a relatively successful trainer-horse combination and broken it up. D. Wayne Lukas appeared to be in the middle of a resurgence in his career with Dublin being a viable Triple Crown contender, but the fact remains that he has not won a Triple Crown race since 2000, when Commendable won the Belmont, and he has not won a Breeders' Cup race since 2005, when Folklore won the Juvenile Fillies. Moving Mine That Bird to his stable appears to me to be a wild stab by both the owners and the new trainer to recapture past glory. Sometimes, when you make a wild stab at glory, you fail to recognize the glory you already were a part of.
Tune in on Friday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!