Today was not a good day to be a front-runner. Even after morning-line favorite I Want Revenge scratched, there were a handful of horses with great odds; any one of them a potential Triple Crown Contender. Then, the rains came, and any hope of a normal race washed away.
Mine That Bird, a 50-1 longshot, took the Kentucky Derby with one of the best stretch runs I’ve ever seen. And while a lot of people who thought they had sure things picked out in an underwhelming field are out a few bucks tonight, quite a few people are quite a bit richer.
Mine That Bird, who forces me to fight the temptation to shorten his name on second reference to just “Mine,” or even “That Bird,” literally came out of nowhere. And by literally, I of course mean figuratively.
Squeezed at the start, he was dead last in the 19-horse field at one point. But the pack stayed together, and was they came into the home stretch, he put on the afterburners.
Looking fresh while everyone around him looked dead tired, Mine That Bird weaved through most of the field in a matter of seconds. He was still pulling away when he came to the wire with a 6¾ length victory.
So who is Mine That Bird? The adjective being thrown around in early reports is “unheralded,” which is mediaspeak for “we didn’t think this horse had a chance, so we didn’t do our research.”
We know this. He’s from New Mexico. He was the best 2-year-old in Canada last year. His jockey is Calvin Borel, who won the derby aboard Street Sense in 2007. And his trainer, Bennie “Chip” Woolley Jr., has an awesome name, and an awesome look complete with crutches and a cowboy hat.
But, as the second biggest upset in Kentucky Derby history shows us once again: this is horse racing. No one really knows anything.