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Jockey Calvin Borel celebrates while Mine That Bird parades for the fans after winning the Kentucky Derby
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The 135th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) saw one of the most contentious fields in recent memory. With the defection of Quality Road before entries were taken, and then the scratch of expected favorite I Want Revenge this morning, the race was suddenly wide open. A field of 19 three-year-olds went to post before a crowd of 153,563 at Churchill Downs, the smallest crowd since 2004 likely due to the damp, cold, and overcast day. Because of overnight rains and cool temperatures during the day, the track failed to dry out any and was rated sloppy for the Derby.
Friesan Fire, winner of the LeComte, Risen Star, and Louisiana Derby, all at the Fair Grounds, was sent off as the 7-2 choice for trainer Larry Jones. Todd Pletcher trainee Dunkirk, second in the Florida Derby last out, was the 5-1 second choice in just his fourth lifetime start. 6-1 third choice Pioneerof the Nile came in off four straight wins, including the Santa Anita Derby, for trainer Bob Baffert. The rest of the field was at double-digits on the toteboard, led by California Derby and El Camino Real Derby winner Chocolate Candy at 10-1, who was second to Pioneerof the Nile in the Santa Anita Derby.
Mine That Bird draws off in the stretch as jockey Calvin Borel points to his fiancee in the stands.
Mine That Bird wins the Kentucky Derby
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 8 Mine That Bird Borel 103.20 54.00 25.80 16 Pioneerof the Nile Gomez 8.40 6.40 2 Musket Man Coa 12.00 Winning Time: 2:02.66 $2 Exacta 8-16 2,074.80 $2 Trifecta 8-16-2 41,500.60 $2 Superfecta 8-16-2-7 557,006.40 $2 Oaks/Derby Double 248.40
Left: Mine That Bird heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Calvin Borel, who also won the Derby in 2007 aboard Street Sense, said, "I just took him back, rode a Street Sense race. We had a good trip, got stopped maybe one time going around the turn but after that, it was awesome. I must have been 15 or 20 lengths back. He's so small, he was just skipping qcross the mud, and they went pretty fast in the early part. I knew he was going to win at the 3/8 pole. He.s a small horse, there was room for him (on the inside) I hollered at him and he just went."
Right: Jockey Calvin Borel holds up the Derby trophy in the winner's circle and two fingers to indicate his second Derby win and winning the Oaks/Derby double. Borel, who won the Oaks yesterday aboard Rachel Alexandra, is the first jockey since Jerry Bailey in 1993 to win both the Oaks and the Derby in the same year.
Left: Calvin Borel celebrates as Mine That Bird parades on the turf course in front of the Derby winner's circle. Winning trainer Bennie Woolley Jr. said, "New Mexico kicked our butt (Mine That Bird was 4th in the Sunland Derby), and we come here and win. "It's wonderful; I can.t say enough. It's a feeling like I've never had before. I was thinking, Calvin Borel's the best. He ran a huge race. Everyone around me has done a great job, and we were just lucky to get here. Maybe now someone will talk about more than the drive here." Woolley vanned the horse himself from Sunland Park and hobbled around Churchill Downs on crutches, having broken his leg in a motorcycle crash.
Right: Mine That Bird heads back to the barn after the race. Co-owner Leonard Blach of Bueno Suerte Equine said, "I didn't have any real feeling we would win. I just wanted to be competitive. Mark and I became partners on the horse a little over a year ago. I really thought this horse had a lot of talent; we just weren't able to see it all yet. My heart sank when he came by the first time and he was last, but I felt a little better when he came around again the second time and was first."
Left: Mine That Bird in the post parade. Mine That Bird was Champion 2-year-old in Canada last year and his current owners purchased him before taking him to the Breeders' Cup last year. When asked about the purchase, co-owner Mark Allen of Double Eagle Ranch said, "There was no haggling. They (David Cotey's Dominion Bloodstock Inc.) wanted $400,000. We paid it." Asked why they bought a gelding, he added, "We were looking for a racehorse, not a stallion." Mine That Bird was the only gelding in the race, and is one of just three geldings to wear the Roses, the others being Clyde Van Dusen in 1929 and Funny Cide in 2003.
Right: Mine That Bird trails the field into the first turn. Original owner-trainer David Cotey, who sold the horse to the current owners, said from Woodbine, "I am so happy for him. I'm ecstatic. I'd love to be down there to give him a big kiss. We were all screaming down here in the Finish Line Bar. When I saw him closing on the rail, I yelled, 'Here he comes!' I almost lost my voice. I'm just so happy for him and his connections." Cotey had purchased Mine That Bird for $9,500 at Fasig-Tipton Kentucky in October 2007. Mine That Bird is the second Canadian juvenile champion to win the Kentucky Derby, after 1983 winner Sunny's Halo.
Left: Second place finisher Pioneerof the Nile in the post parade. His jockey Garrett Gomez said, "I thought I was sitting on the winner when turning for home. It was just a matter of him going when I asked him to go. He was pulling and traveling well. I haven't had a trip like that in the Kentucky Derby. He pulled to the 1/4 pole and it was a nice feeling. Like I said, when I turned for home, I thought I was going to win my first Derby."
Right: Third place finisher Musket Man returns after the race. His trainer Derek Ryan said, "He showed he belonged. (The media) knocked him all week. We had to go wide and the rail was golden all day, the place to be."
Left: 18th place finisher and beaten favorite Friesan Fire heads into the paddock before the race. His trainer Larry Jones said the favorite grabbed a quarter (left front) coming out of the gate. He said, "He got hit really badly out of the gate and grabbed a quarter. He's bleeding. If you see blood on the track, it's his." Jockey Gabriel Saez added, "He got a bad start and got hit (in his left front). I feel that he didn't want to go, so I let him relax and finish the race. I didn't want to hurt the horse. I just dropped the reins and let him gallop. He came back OK."
Right: The field breaks from the gate for the 135th Kentucky Derby. If you look at the larger version, you can see Mine That Bird (#8) being squeezed back at the start by both Join in the Dance (#9) and Papa Clem (#7).
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