champion horse Mine That Bird talk of racing world after Derby win
Copyright © 2009 The Canadian Press - May 3, 2009
Even as a modest US$9,500 purchase, Mine That Bird acted like he was
David Cotey bought Mine That Bird in 2008 unsure exactly what he had
but the trainer from Mississauga, Ont., said it was clear the horse
wasn't lacking confidence.
"He's a little cocky but he just does everything right, he's very
professional," Cotey said Sunday. "He doesn't do anything out of the
ordinary other than use his head and behave himself.
"There's nothing you wouldn't like about him. Nothing presents a
problem for him."
And that includes shocking the thoroughbred racing world.
Canada's 2008 champion two-year-old male registered a stunning 6
3/4-length victory in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Mine That Bird
won the first jewel of U.S. racing's Triple Crown as a whopping 50-1
"I've never seen him move like that before, especially in the Kentucky
Derby where they pay millions for horses," said Cotey, who sold the
horse for $400,000 last fall. "And here's this little guy who went by
them like they're going backwards.
"I was cheering like heck for him and I didn't even bet on him."
Too bad, because Cotey would've cleaned up.
Those who were bold enough to put their money on the three-year-old
gelding earned a return of $103.20 for a $2 bet, the second-highest
payout in Derby history. His margin of victory was the second-largest
in race history and largest since Assault's eight-length win in 1946.
And he did it with a dramatic flair.
After being roughed up at the start, Mine That Bird fell well behind
the leaders and appeared out of it. But in the final run to the finish
line, Mine That Bird came flying home on the inside rail on a sloppy
track to earn a win that was worth $1.4 million in his first-ever
Grade 1 stakes race.
"I saw him get roughed up at the start and thought that wasn't good,"
said Cote, who watched the race at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack. "But
I knew they wanted him back a ways and when I saw this horse hit the
TV and literally blow by, I said 'That's got to be Birdie,' because I
knew he was way, way back.
"He tries every race so I knew he'd really take a run at them. But I
never dreamed he'd run like that or win."
Mine That Bird - a son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone -
became only the third horse of Canadian pedigree to win the Derby. His
great-great-grandfather, the legendary Northern Dancer, won it in
1964, and Sunny's Halo wore the roses in 1983.
Mine That Bird was co-bred in Kentucky by Toronto's Peter Lamantia and
the thought was he'd be a decent enough thoroughbred. And he lived up
to those expectations when he was named Canada's top two-year-old male
champion last year.
But Mine That Bird began his career in modest fashion, earning a
fifth-place finish over six furlongs at Toronto's Woodbine Racetrack
last July 20, almost 10 lengths behind the winner.
His Beyer figure (Daily Racing Form speed rating) was 48, hardly a
number that suggested anything special. But Cotey wasn't concerned.
"I thought he might do a little better, but it was a race where we
wanted him to learn a little bit," said Cotey. "It's hard to win races
at Woodbine on any day, it's so competitive."
The horse proceeded to win four straight races - including three
stakes events - something Cotey wasn't expecting.
"I definitely wasn't," he said. "If anyone had told me he'd win four
straight and three straight stakes, I would have asked, 'What are you
"But I will say that once he won the first stake, I felt he could win
the next one and the next one."
Cotey wasn't the only one impressed with Mine That Bird's form.
After his half-length win in the $232,100 Grey Stakes on Oct. 5, the
New Mexico group of Double Eagle Ranch and Bueno Suerte Equine called
Cotey and bought him. It didn't hurt that the horse's victory in the
Grey Stakes qualified him for the Kentucky Derby field based upon
graded-stakes money earned.
But early in Saturday's race, he wasn't much of a factor. He was far
off the early pace and had shown no sign of being able to effectively
make the ground up.
But when jockey Calvin Borel asked his mount to let go coming around
the final turn, Mine That Bird showed he still had plenty left in the
tank. And once he cleared traffic he drew off in the deep stretch,
crossing the wire in 2:02.66.
Cotey has no regrets about selling Mine That Bird as he and his
partners were able to purchase 37 other horses as a result of the
transaction. And Mine That Bird's success Saturday certainly won't
hurt their reputation with other perspective horse buyers.
"I never ever sold a horse and wished someone would do terrible with
them," Cotey said. "Now people will buy a horse out of here for good
money and not be afraid to go to the Breeders' Cup or the Derby or
"It's pretty tough up here right now and it will do a heck of a lot
for racing up here... and it's a great story. It gives the smaller guy
the dream that they might buy a horse that could turn out like Mine