Alright, everyone who picked Mine That Bird to win the Kentucky Derby for a reason other than his name, number, silks color or Canadian background, raise your hand.
You and I both know we wouldn’t have touted Mine That Bird to our worst enemy.
He was a Polytrack horse, and a Canadian one at that. He got butchered in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, finishing last by a mile. His only significant win was a Grade 3 at Woodbine – AT TWO. He couldn’t even muster up the athletic capabilities to hit the board in an ungraded stakes race at Sunland Park. Mine That Bird would have been a hard sell for a show wager in the Lone Star Derby, much less the highest-profile three-year old race in the world.
But here we are.
Looking through the sea of pre-race predictions, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who put Mine That Bird in their top 15 out of the pre-scratch field of 20, much less in a spot of serious contention. I’ve seen more optimistic forecasts in a Chrysler exec’s stock portfolio.
As a testament to just how out of left field this outcome was, I have compiled some of the more colorful predictions of Mine That Bird’s Derby chances from some of the biggest names and publications in Turf Writing. The results weren’t optimistic.
Because I’m a good sport, I’ll start with my own fearless prediction…
#8 – Mine That Bird
Made bank in Loonies
No graded starts in ’09
Avoid at all costs
Consider the foot firmly planted in the mouth.
Here is what the rest of the Turf Writing community had to say about the Kentucky Derby winner in their pre-race analysis. Just to keep it fair, I limited my search to professional writers and handicappers. These are the people who get paid for their opinions, so one would speculate they would be held in a higher regard. Just imagine seeing some of these clips in a stallion ad if Mine That Bird hadn’t been gelded.
“Save your money”
– Tom Pedulla, USA Today
Best quality: “Photographs well”
– Jay Cronley, ESPN
“Highest Beyer speed figure (81) isn’t even close to making him a contender. Has shown some speed in the past, but it probably won’t last for long.”
– Jason Shandler, Blood Horse
“Off career-best Beyers, he’s got about 23 lengths to make up. Hey, no problem.”
– Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form
Fair odds: “399-1”
– Ed DeRosa, Thoroughbred Times
Odds to finish last: “7-1,” the lowest odds in the field. (By the way, actual last-place finisher Flying Private was set at 9-1)
“We can’t see it, even with Calvin Borel in the irons.”
– BrisNet Editorial
“Too slow to be a factor.”
– Justin Dew, KentuckyDerby.com
“Mind That Bird (sic) has simply run much too slow in all eight races to think that he can compete against this type of opposition.”
– “The Wizard,” BrisNet
ESPN’s Jeremy Plonk listed Mine That Bird among his “Toss-outs,” but was more optimistic about his chances than most…
“Canada’s champion last year was last in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and has not improved enough this spring to make you think he can cash a check Saturday. But he’s a hard-trying horse and probably will out-finish one or two horses that will surprise you.”
So what’s the moral of the story? Never underestimate the longshot? Nope. Be nice to everyone because you never know who is going to hit it big? ‘Fraid not. Never EVER give Calvin Borel a clean look at the rail? Tempting, but no.
The lesson here is the betting machines have an “all” button for a reason.