Jockey Calvin Borel (Bo-RAIL) has done it again, exploding up the rail in the 135th Kentucky Derby to shock the world by winning the nation’s biggest race at odds of 50/1. The win completes a perfect sweep of the both the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby, and both in amazing style. Mine That Bird was 50/1 on the tote board going to post, and goes down as the second longest priced horse to win the Kentucky Derby in it’s storied history.
50/1!!!!!! Are you kidding me? In the Derby? Wow, guess we just missed “the next Giacomo.” Watching Calvin celebrate afterwards all one can wonder is how one man can dominate one lane at one track so thoroughly as Calvin Borel does at Churchill Downs along the rail? It is absolutely astonishing. Twice now in the last 3 years he’s made the same move and won the Derby.
On Friday we had visions of Secretariat in the ’73 Belmont as Rachel Alexandra throttled the Oaks field by over 20 lengths. On Saturday we were treated to visions of Street Sense in the ’07 Derby, as Calvin Borel did what he always does. He found the rail, made his move, and then continued to to extend throughout the stretch. Mind That Bird opened up a final margin of 6 3/4 lengths and completed the 1 1/4 mile distance of the Derby in 2:02.66.
How on earth did this happen? A son of Birdstone, Mine That Bird had never broken the 90 Beyer Speed Figure level. In fact, he had barely broken the 80′s. Talk about a stunning improvement. Exiting back to back less-than-inspiring performances in ungraded stakes at Sunland Park, for goodness sakes, he was less than an afterthought. I ‘ll be honest. I had him ranked as the third from lowest contender in this field. That’s right - 3rd from last. Never saw that coming in a million years. The only runners I had behind him were Atomic Rain (who finished 16th), and Flying Private (who finished last). Of course, the horse I did have finished 18th (Friesan Fire). Sigh.
Yet Mine That Bird, somehow, was clearly the best. Once you could see him making his move along the rail, all you could think of was “wait, who the heck is that along the rail?” As if we even needed to ask. It could only be one man, and just like he did aboard Street Sense in 2007, he did again in 2009.
In the “race behind the race”, an interesting battle was happening that many racing fans may have missed. Pioneer of the Nile, Musket Man, and Papa Clem battled it out and ultimately rounded out the superfecta, respectively. Chocolate Candy and Summer Bird were another 6 lengths back from the top four.
The final results with beaten lengths was as follows:
- #8 Mine That Bird —
- #16 Pioneer of the Nile – 6 3/4
- #2 Musket Man – 6 3/4
- #7 Papa Clem – 7
- #11 Chocolate Candy – 13
- #17 Summer Bird – 13 1/4
- #9 Join in the Dance – 14 1/2
- #10 Regal Ransom – 15
- #1 West Side Bernie – 15 3/4
- #12 General Quarters – 17 3/4
- #15 Dunkirk – 19 1/4
- #5 Hold Me Back – 20 3/4
- #4 Advice – 21 1/4
- #19 Desert Party – 22
- #3 Mr. Hot Stuff – 22 1/4
- #18 Nowhere to Hide – 35 1/4
- #6 Friesan Fire – 42 3/4
- #20 Flying Private – 44
Obviously the most disappointing of these was post time favorite Friesan Fire, who was beaten by over 40 lengths. Most likely this is because I selected him once I Want Revenge was scratched. My apologies to the Larry Jones camp. Now I just hope he checks out okay without an injury. Finishing 40 lengths back at his talent level is more than worrisome.
All of this makes the Preakness, just 2 weeks away, a more intriguing race.
- How many runners will be scared away from Mine That Bird?
- Was it the sloppy track?
- Was it some other factor that makes him vulnerable two weeks from now (and beyond)?
I’m thinking many will be expecting a significant bounce off of that performance. The Preakness, due to it’s reduced field size of 12, tends to be a better barometer in terms of absolute talent.
Speaking of which…we went into the week thinking we had a fairly good handle on who the best 3-year-olds in the country were. We leave with Rachel Alexandra and Mine That Bird seemingly on a level of their own. Hats off to the connections of each.
Is there any chance we might see them in the Preakness two weeks from now at Pimlico? We can only dream. What a matchup that would be.