Don't diss the Derby star
So what are the odds the 3-year-old gelding that stole the Kentucky Derby can pull off another upset in the Preakness Stakes on May 16? Could Mine That Bird become the eighth Kentucky Derby winner in the last 12 years to take the Preakness, too?
Mine That Bird will be dismissed from Baltimore to the West Coast in the next two weeks, as a handful of Derby entrants and a giddy group of shooters arrive at Pimlico eager to defrock the Derby winner. Let's give the colt his due. Or let's let Jeannine Edwards, an ESPN racing analyst, give him his due.
"I do think the stars all aligned for him in the Derby," Edwards said this week. "And it would be hard to duplicate that. However, I think this horse has a ton of heart. And we've all seen he has ability.
"I don't think he would disgrace himself in the Preakness. I don't think he will run a terrible race. I think he's an honest, hard-trying little horse."
Edwards believes the slop at Churchill Downs and the heady ride from Calvin Borel made the difference in Louisville's cavalry charge. The horse had not been on an off track before, so no one knew how he would respond.
Before the Derby, Edwards asked trainer Chip Woolley Jr. about the horse's potential on a muddy surface.
"The horse was standing next to us," she said. "He's small, he's got these little deer feet. Chip said, 'They can usually skip right over the mud.'"
Skip he did, right up the best part of the bad track, along the rail, to blow away the Derby field. He had the speed to glide over the mud and the right size to squeeze into a tiny opening for his best chance to outrun Pioneerof the Nile.
Mine That Bird came out of the race in such good shape that Woolley and the horse's owners made plans to drive him up here early next week. The New Mexico cowboys had planned on running in the Belmont, a race won by Mine That Bird's sire Birdstone. That's a race Mine That Bird was bred for.
Asked if the Preakness might make it more difficult for Mine That Bird to win the Belmont, Edwards hedged her bet only slightly.
"He's a little horse, not a skinny horse," she said. "He's a well-bodied little guy. Chip Woolley knows the horse and if he feels it might take too much out of him, or he's not training with the same gusto, he just won't run [in the Preakness]."
And nobody wants to see Mine That Bird sit out the Preakness. We want to see another miracle.