Bird Wins Kentucky Derby With Strong New Mexico Connection
by- Ty Wyant - Ruidoso Downs Racetrack & Casino
RUIDOSO DOWNS, New Mexico (May 3, 2009) — Mine That Bird’s stunning upset in the 135th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs had strong ties to New Mexico racing.Mine That Bird, a 50-1 longshot in the Kentucky Derby, is owned by Mark Allen’s Double Eagle Farm and Dr. Leonard Blach’s Buena Suerte Ranch. Each of those operations is located in Roswell New Mexico. The gelding’s trainer Bennie Woolley Jr. races a stable on the Ruidoso Downs-Zia Park-Sunland Park circuit.
Jerry Nicodemus, manager of Double Eagle Farm, was a legendary quarter horse jockey in New Mexico. He is a three-time winner of the Grade 1 All American Futurity, quarter horse racing’s showcase event.
Called “Nic,” Nicodemus was inducted into the AQHA Hall Of Fame in March and is a charter member of the Ruidoso Downs Racehorse Hall of Fame. Before he took the manager’s position at Double Eagle Farm last year, he was a steward on the New Mexico circuit.
Mine That Bird may be a Kentucky-bred gelding, but he prepared for his classic derby victory in New Mexico. After being purchased by his current connections for $400,000 last fall, he made one start at Santa Anita Park in Southern California and then joined the Woolley stable at Sunland Park. He raced to a second-place finish in the $100,000 Borderland Derby and had a fourth-place run in the $800,000 Sunland Derby. His Kentucky Derby win makes a undeniable statement for the Sunland Derby receiving graded stakes status.
Mine That Bird started his career in Canada and he was honored as the Canadian juvenile male champion. He won three stakes from five starts in Canada.
Mine That Bird received a classic Calvin Borel (he is nicknamed Calvin Bo-Rail) ride in the derby. Mine That Bird was last for most of the one-and-a-quarter mile test before Borel got him rolling on the rail on the sloppy track. They squeezed through an opening on the rail and drew out to a six-and-three-quarter length win, the largest margin since eventual Triple Crown winner Assault won by eight lengths in 1946. Mind That Bird was timed in 2:02.66.
Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneer Of The Nile is trained by former quarter horse conditioner Bob Baffert, who will be inducted into the National Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame. His quarter horse wins include the 1986 Champion Of Champions with world champion Gold Coast Express and the 1988 Champion Of Champions with Shawnes Favorite.
Baffert sends thoroughbreds to the larger New Mexico stakes, including the Sunland Derby, in New Mexico.