Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird will move along to the second jewel of the Triple Crown – the Preakness Stakes, provided he is doing well, his owners and trainer said Sunday.
"We're going to let the horse tell us that," owner Mark Allen said. "This horse is doing good and comes off this race good, you bet we'll run, but he's going to have to tell us."
Allen and trainer Chip Woolley credited jockey Calvin Borel with winning the Derby – taking the Birdstone colt back to last after a rough start and then making one, big run through a tight hole on the rail to victory.
"The one-run was definitely the plan and we had talked about being eight-to-10 (lengths) from the lead," Woolley said. "I had felt all along that's where the horse needed to be, but we had just never gotten that trip. When he got annihilated leaving there – this is a little horse, he's not very big – and when he got banged around leaving there, we were really concerned right away about that.
"I had told the press before that he couldn't take a bunch of beating. So when he got shuffled that far back, I actually wasn't too high on my chances when he came by me at the grandstand way last. But the horse responded and Calvin done a super job of riding the horse. So we're just lucky to have been there."
Bob Baffert, who trains runner-up Pioneerof the Nile, also credited Borel's rail-skimming ride.
"He's the only one who could have pulled that off," Baffert said. ""What he did was just incredible. He won that race … He weaved his way through there and everybody knows that the rail's the place to be, but everybody gets off of it."
Handicappers looking back at their Daily Racing Form might still be scratching their heads about how the New Mexico-based gelding won the Run for the Roses. But pedigree devotees could well be saying, "How could I have missed that?"
After all, Mine That Bird's sire, Birdstone, won the Belmont Stakes. And Birdstone's sire, Grindstone, won the Kentucky Derby.
The question on Friday was, shouldn't Rachel Alexandra have run against the colts in the Kentucky Derby, rather than the fillies in the Oaks? The Oaks was a romp, as Rachel Alexandra drew off sharply at the top of the stretch and won by 20 1/4 lengths. Jockey Calvin Borel's only movements were to check over both shoulders for competition and to pat his filly on the neck a few times as she neared the wire.
Stone Legacy saved ground most of the way and finished second, with Flying Spur third. The only filly rated to compete with the winner, Justwhistledixie, was scratched before the race. Justwhistledixie has five straight wins, including the two top events for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park.
But, judging by Rachel Alexandra's performance Friday, Justwhistledixie would have been, well, whistling Dixie in trying to catch her.
"She's probably the greatest horse I've ever been on in my life," said Borel, who has three decades in the saddle. "This filly, she breaks out of the gate and she's like, 'Bring it on. Let's go."
But Borel and trainer Hal Wiggins both said they made the right decision to go in the Oaks, rathe than the Derby – even though they suspected Rachel Alexandra could have won either race.
"I think they did the right thing by running her today," Borel said. "But I do think she would have won it."
Wiggins said Rachel Alexandra showed him, "I had more than I thought I had, to tell you the truth." But, asked again about the Derby, he replied, "It never entered my mind. It might later."
Rachel Alexandra is a Kentucky-bred filly by Medaglia d'Oro out of the Roar filly Lotta Kim. She had won six of her nine previous races, including four straight leading up to the Kentucky Oaks.
On the Kentucky Oaks undercard:
-- Zenyatta, still undefeated in nine career starts, was scratched from the $350,000 Louisville Distaff, which would have been her seasonal debut. In her absence, Miss Isella held sway, running down pace-setting, odds-on favorite One Caroline in the stretch and then forcing her way through on the rail to win by 3/4 length. Swift Temper was third. Miss Isella, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred daughter of Silver Charm, ran the 1 1/16 miles on a sealed main track rated "good" in 1:42.75. Borel had the mount for trainer Ian Wilkes. The winner now has four victories in five starts at Churchill Downs. "She's a totally different filly on this track and any other track," Borel said.
-- Laragh opened up a big early lead in the $100,000 Edgewood Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the "good" turf, then held on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Magical Affair. Banker's Choice rallied from last of 10 to take third. Laragh, a Kentucky-bred Tapit filly, finished in 1:43.88 with Edgar Prado in the irons for trainer John Terranova. Laragh finished third in last fall's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, then won the Hollywood Starlet on the all-weather track. In her first effort this year, she was last of five on the Aqueduct main track in the Comely. "She is a very nice filly who has a lot of natural speed. We didn't want to take her out of her game. We went to the lead and she was nice and relaxed. I was just hoping she would have enough at the end and she did," Prado said.
-- Chamberlain Bridge stayed behind the early speed in the $100,000 Aegon Turf Sprint, came to the outside for the stretch run when asked by jockey Garrett Gomez and was just up in time to win by a neck. Cannonball also ran late to take second and Smart Enough was only fast enough to finish third. Chamberlain Bridge, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred War Chant gelding, ran the 5 furlongs on "good" turf in 57.06 seconds under Garrett Gomez. Winning trainer Bret Calhoun said he was "concerned all the way down the backside because he's never run like that … This was the first time he's showed us a different dimension and it wasn't by design."
-- Bullsbay saved ground early in the $150,000 Alysheba Stakes, came off the rail at mid-stretch to vie for the lead and got by Cool Coal Man in the late going to win by 3/4 length. Star Guitar finished third. Bullsbay, a 5-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Tiznow, ran the 1 1/16
miles on a track upgraded to fast in 1:44.29 under Jeremy Rose. The horse is trained by H. Graham Motion. Bullsbay was eased in the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park in January when he was distanced. He bounced back to finish second and first in his last two starts in Maryland. An obvious Louisville fan, he now is 3-for-3 on the Churchill Downs oval.
-- Orthodox, at odds of better than 45-1, surged to the lead at mid-stretch in the $150,000 American Turf Stakes for 3-year-olds and held off Battle of Hastings to win by 3/4 length. Turfiste finished third after showing the way. Orthodox, who finished last and second-last in his two previous starts, ran the 1 1/16 miles on "good" turf in 1:44.37 with Jon Court riding for owner/trainer John Glenney. The Pulpit colt now has three wins from nine lifetime starts and is 3-for-5 on the grass. "He usually doesn't like to pass horses, but this time, the leader was backing up a bit and he inherited the lead, Glenney said. "He knew what to do from there. The rider change to Jon in a turf race made the difference today."
The Kentucky Derby undercard:
-- Einstein won the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic for the second straight year but had all he could do in claiming the prize. After racing well out on the grass course rated "good," the 7-year-old Brazilian-bred had to work between rivals on the stretch turn, then go back out six-wide to get a clear shot at the leaders. Under urging from jockey Julien Leparoux, he prevailed by a head over Cowboy Cal. Court Vision was third. Einstein finished the 9 furlongs in 1:49.62. "We got a good trip," Leparoux said. "We got an inside trip and we saved ground. The only time I really had to work was at the three-eighths pole: I had to make my way out, but after that we got a good trip everywhere." Winning trainer Helen Pitts was bragging about her horse afterward – but only with qualifications. " I'm not going to say he's the best horse in the country. I'll let you know on Nov. 6," she said. "The Breeders' Cup Classic is a possibility. He loved that track at Santa Anita, and with the Breeders' Cup being there, it's worth a shot. I was very proud of him today. He's a special animal."
-- Informed Decision was all over the track at the top of the stretch looking for running room in the $300,000 Humana Distaff. When jockey Julien Leparoux finally got space for the 4-year-old Monarchos filly, she made the most of it, easing by pace-setting Dubai Majesty in the final sixteenth to win by 3/4 length. Temple Street was along to take second at long odds and Modification dead-heated with Dubai Majesty for third and fourth. Informed Decision, trained by Jonathan Sheppard, ran the 7 furlongs on the sloppy track in 1:23.69. "At the quarter pole I said, there is no way she (Dubai Majesty) is going to come back," Leparoux said. "They were ahead and they kind of had the jump on me. I almost had to stop her and I thought there is no way she's going to get back in there. She actually did. At the eighth pole she really kicked in for me." Sheppard said he is considering a couple of races for Informed Decision and thinks she can stretch out a bit.
-- Tizaqueena stalked the pace in the $200,000 Churchill Distaff Mile, challenged for the lead at the quarter pole and then drew clear and held on to win by 3/4 length, turning back a determined challenge from Dawn After Dawn. Lemon Chiffon was third and the favorite, Visit, finished fifth. Tizaqueena, a 4-year-old, Kentucky-bred filly by Tiznow out of the Mr. Prospector mare Issaqueena, finished in 1:38.86 on turf rated "good." Jamie Theriot rode for trainer Michael Stidham.
-- Four Gifts rallied in the final sixteenth to win the $100,000 Eight Belles Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 3 lengths over Just Jenda. Warrior Maid was third. Four Gifts, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Even the Score, got the 7 1/2 furlongs in the slop in 1:30.94 under Shaun Bridgmohan. Steve Asmussen trains Four Gifts. Four Gifts and Warrior Maid both had finished second to Rachel Alexandra in earlier races, indicating again the dominance of the Kentucky Oaks-winning filly. The race was named for the filly who broke down and was euthanized after finishing second in last year's Kentucky Derby. Eight Belles's trainer, Larry Jones, saddled Just Jenda and Warrior Maid. " She did everything I wanted her to do," Bridgmohan said. "The speed set up very good. I was able to watch the horse (Just Jenda) that I wanted to watch and got her on the outside of me. I just got her in the right spot that I though she needed to be, and the rest was up to her and she did it."
-- Accredit got the lead early in the $250,000 Churchill Downs Stakes and held stoutly, winning by 1 3/4 lengths over My Pal Charlie. The Roundhouse finished third. Accredit, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred colt by E Dubai, got the sloppy 7 furlongs in 1:23.24 with Julien Leparoux in the irons for trainer Michael Maker.
In other weekend racing:
Sea the Stars wore down the favorite, Delegator, in the final furlong of Saturday's 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in England and went on to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Gan Amhras was third and Rip Van Winkle fourth. Sea the Stars, by Cape Cross, now is a likely favorite for the Epsom Derby on June 6. He is owned by Hong Kong businessman Christopher Tsui and trained by John Oxx.
Ghanaati ran well at the end to win Sunday's 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, scoring by 1 1/2 lengths over Cuis Ghaire. Super Sleuth was third and the favorite, previously undefeated Rainbow View, came home fifth with her trainer, John Gosden, saying the Dynaformer filly didn't appreciate the firm going. Ghanaati, owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, trained by Barry Hills and ridden by Richard Hills, is a daughter of Giant's Causeway. She now is a top-tier candidate for the English Oaks.
Meiner Kitz, at odds of 45-1, won Sunday's Spring TEnno Sho at Kyoto Racecourse in Japan by a neck over Al Nasrain. Meiner Kitz, a 6-year-old son of Chief Bearheart, ran the 2 miles on firm going in 3:14.40. It was his first win since Feb. 4, 2008.
Flashing led early in Saturday's $200,000 Nassau County Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, gave up the lead to the favorite, Saarlight, then came again in deep stretch to defeat that rival by 1 1/4 lengths. Haley's Lolipop rallied from last of five to finish third. Flashing, a Kentucky-bred daughter of A.P. Indy out of the Machiavellian mare Morning Pride, ran the 7 furlongs on a muddy, sealed track in 1:23.59. Javier Castellano had the mount for trainer Tom Albertrani. Flashing was bred by Gainsborough Farm and is owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Stable.
My Princess Jess worked through some traffic issues and came on late to win Saturday's $100,000 Beaugay Stakes for fillies and mares by 1 3/4 lengths over Carribean Sunset. My Princess Jess, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred Stormy Atlantic filly, covered 1 1/16 miles on the "good" inner turf in 1:44.83 with Cornelio Velasquez up.
Cosmonaut stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Fort Marcy Stakes, collared pace-setter Tam Lin at mid-stretch and won by 1 1/2 lengths over that rival. Cosmonaut, a 7-year-old, Kentucky-bred son of Lemon Drop Kid, ran 1 1/16 miles on the "good" turf in 1:42.60 for jockey Jose Lezcano.
Sapphire Sky drew off in the stretch to win Sunday's $100,000 Bouwerie Stakes for New York-bred, 3-year-old fillies by 4 3/4 lengths over Ampart Ridge. Sapphire Sky by Sky Mesa out of Charm Away, ran the 7 furlongs in 1:24.19.
El Brujo stalked the pace in Saturday's $150,000 (Canadian) Queenston Stakes for 3-year-olds, went by pace-setting Shut It Down at the top of the stretch and got home first, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Shut It Down. Active Duty finished third. El Brujo, an Ontario-bred Candy Ride gelding, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.17. Patrick Husbands rode for trainer Malcolm Pierce.
Woodsmoke smoked seven rivals in Sunday's $150,000 Fury Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, leading most of the way to a 2 1/4-lengths upset victory. High Mist was second and Mullins Beach third. The favorite, Not Just a Rumor, hung in the stretch and settled for fourth. Woodsmoke, an Ontario-bred daughter of Langfuhr, ran the 7 furlongs on the all-weather track in 1:22.67.
Voy Por Uno Mas led all the way to a 2-lengths victory in Saturday's $100,000 Richard Radke Illinois Owners stakes for horses owned by Illinoisans. The Kentucky-bred Mazel Trick gelding ran 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:42.86 under Junior Alvarado.
Golden Gate Fields
Feisty Suances led from gate to wire in Saturday's $75,000 Silky Sullivan Stakes for Cal-bred 3-year-olds, winning by 4 lengths from Miguel's Mascot and covering 1 1/16 miles on the all-weather track in 1:45.39.
Gorgeous Goose rallied from well back to upset Saturday's $100,000 Wiltshire Handicap for fillies and mares. At the line, the 4-year-old, Florida-bred Mongoose filly was 3/4 length to the good of favorite Diamond Diva. Gorgeous Goose covered the 1 mile of firm turf in 1:34.54 with Corey Nakatani up.
Mrs Kipling rallied nicely down the stretch to win Sunday's $100,000 Senorita Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by 2 1/2 lengths over Candilejas. Mrs. Kipling, an Irish-bred daughter of Exceed and Excel, ran the 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.52 under David Flores. She is owned by TV celebrity chef Bobby Flay.
Trust or Bust led from gate to wire in Saturday night's $75,000 Panhandle Handicap, winning by 3 1/4 lengths over the favorite, Halton. Trust or Bust, a 4-year-old, Florida-bred Trust N Luck gelding, ran 5 furlongs on a fast track in 56.69 seconds with Gerald Almodovar in the irons.
Miner's Escape stalked the pace in Saturday's $75,000 Federico Tesio Breeders' Cup Stakes for 3-year-olds, got to the front with 3 furlongs to run and drew clear, winning by 4 1/2 lengths over Hehasnosay. Miner's Escape, a Kentucky-bred son of Mineshaft, got the 9 furlongs in 1:51.23 with Luis Garcia riding.
Back in New Mexico, home of Kentucky Derby champion Mine That Bird, Some Ghost rallied from far back to win Saturday's $100,000 Jack Cole Handicap for state-breds by 3/4 length over Brax. Some Ghost, an 8-year-old Ghostly Moves gelding, moved the 1 mile in 1:38.29 with Ken Tohill in the irons.
Highland Games got the final run in Sunday's 1 7/8-mile, $50,000 Hasta La Vista Handicap and got home first by 3/4 length over Latino Summer. New Fandan was third and Meetingwithdestiny, after leading for the first 13 furlongs, held on for fourth. Highland Games, a 6-year-old Game Plan gelding, finished in 3:11.10