2009, Mine That Bird
Mine That Bird's Kentucky Derby win is the epitome of the underdog story!
Born in Kentucky and purchased for just $9,500, Mine That Bird travelled to Canada and then the southwest United States in his early racing career. He performed well in Canada, but was out-performed in his American races, causing his ownership and training to change several times. In early 2009, Mine That Bird came under the tutelage of trainer Chip Woolley, and even though they only placed 2nd and 4th in their two races together, Mine That Bird’s lifetime victories in graded stakes races qualified him 19th, out of 20 horses, to race in the Kentucky Derby.
On a whim and just days before the Kentucky Derby race, while also recovering from a broken ankle, trainer Chip Woolley loaded Mine That Bird into a trailer on the back of his pick-up truck, and drove him over 1,000 miles from New Mexico to Kentucky to participate in the race. Barely qualified, no one thought Mine That Bird would race in the Kentucky Derby, let alone win it!
It was a rainy first Saturday in May, so by the time the Kentucky Derby contenders took to the track, it was sloppy. The race took off, and on the backstretch Mine That Bird was so far behind the rest of the field, that even the race announcer missed seeing him. By the last turn of the race, led by jockey Calvin Borel, Mine That Bird caught up with the rest of the field and squeezed between the contenders and the metal rail of the track to pass the group. His speed exploded in the finishing stretch and the announcer, again, missed Mine That Bird as he made his way through 19 horses to take the lead. The announcer didn't identify him until he was 3 lengths ahead of the other contenders. Mine that Bird won the race 6 lengths in front of the 2nd place finisher, and became the second biggest upset winner in Kentucky Derby history (second to Donerail). A $2 win bet on Mine That Bird returned $103.20.
Mine That Bird is only one of nine geldings to win the Kentucky Derby, so his legacy lives only within his story – a story for the record books, and, even the theatre. A movie, "50-1" based on Mine That Bird's road to the Kentucky Derby and his underdog victory was released 5 years after his win. Mine That Bird is proof that the Kentucky Derby is such an enigma – it is an attainable dream for horses and people from all walks of life!