Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Mine That Bird

The 2009 Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird, was not one of the bigger stories on Saturday at the Breeders' Cup. He would end up finishing tenth in the Dirt Mile. It was his ninth consecutive defeat since that magical First Saturday In May, when he came from hopelessly out of the race to run past the entire field and win the Derby by 6 3/4 lengths at odds of 50-1. It now appears that Mine That Bird just happened to catch lightning in a bottle and happened to run his best three races of his career in a five-week span that encompassed the Triple Crown of 2009.

Remember, after his stunning victory at Churchill Downs, he very nearly corralled the Horse Of The Year, Rachel Alexandra, in the Preakness, falling just a length short. He was very much a factor in the Belmont Stakes in 2009 also, ending up third behind the Champion Three-Year-Old, Summer Bird. He was never able to recapture that glory again though and the losing streak began to become a problem for his connections. The owners, Double Eagle Ranch, made the crucial mistake of taking the horse away from trainer Chip Woolley and turning him over to D. Wayne Lukas. This came after the equally crucial mistake of taking the mount away from Derby-winning jockey, Calvin Borel. I understand how you can make hasty decisions in the midst of a pressure-packed losing streak, but sometimes patience is best used when it comes to a winning team that is not performing up to expectations. Keep in mind that the Yankees didn't start winning World Series titles again until George Steinbrenner hired Joe Torre as manager and then left him in that position for more than a decade.

The breakup of the Mine That Bird team also took away from the captivating story behind the horse. We all know about Woolley vanning the horse across the country to get to Kentucky on a broken leg and we all remember him hobbling around Churchill Downs on his crutches. Who can forget Calvin Borel becoming so emotional after his magnificent ride on the gelding in the Derby? Finally, those owners in the Winner's Circle looking just as shocked as everyone else in Kentucky that day was absolutely priceless. In case you want to know more about that story, by the way, there are stories floating around the Internet that there is a Mine That Bird movie in the works. The Canadian Press says that Jim Wilson, director of "Dances With Wolves", and Tony Mark, executive produced of "The Hurt Locker", are on board with the project. Plans are for the movie to go into pre-production in February.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

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