Weekly Recap: Look there…it’s a bird?

When discussing the chances of eventual Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, this was  written:

“This horse has absolutely no chance.  He is woefully overmatched in this event and will probably never reach whatever potential he had by running against tough competition at a distance that’s much too far for him.  His entry is a perfect example of Derby Fever in the worst sense and is proof of why the graded earnings system needs to be re-worked.”

Ouch.  The author was none other than yours truly, and thus I must begin the weekly recap by eating a large helping of crow.   As an Italian I’d prefer it parmigiana style, but given the New Mexican roots of the winner, perhaps something along the lines of crow enchiladas are in order.  I was dead wrong about Mine That Bird, however, I find some solace in the fact that basically every handicapper was wrong about this son of Birdstone.  His Derby victory was so shocking that even the most verbose racing fan was left speechless afterwards.  Here’s a look at some of the best performances of the weekend:

KENTUCKY DERBY

Of course, the “greatest two minutes in sports” is the first race on the agenda.  Nineteen three year-olds went postward after the scratch of I Want Revenge and overnight rain showers left the Churchill main track quite sloppy.  One was left to wonder if the renewed emphasis on safety and Churchill’s recent accreditation for having an exemplary surface kept them from harrowing the main track as no rain fell throughout the day on Saturday.  In any event, it was arguably the most improbable horse in the field who wound up with the blanket of roses as journeyman jockey Calvin Borel won the Derby for the 2nd time in two years.  He took Mine That Bird over 20 lengths off the lead and six lengths behind the 18th horse around the first turn only to pass every horse and draw off to win by an astonishing 6 3/4 lengths.

Click here to watch the Kentucky Derby

KENTUCKY OAKS

Has there been a more dominant performance on such a big stage in the last few years than the one Rachel Alexandra put forth in the Oaks?  She was facing soft competition but did exactly what she was supposed to do, seizing command around the far turn and gradually pulling clear of her competition.  The final margin was just over 20 lengths but the most important number was zero, as in the amount of times Borel hit this filly with the whip or even shook the reins.  A daughter of first-crop sire Medaglia d’ Oro, this gal has clearly taken her game to the next level and her 108 Beyer figure makes it abundantly clear that she’s at the top of her generation and we’re all in for a treat with her being in top form this year.

Click here to watch the Kentucky Oaks

WOODFORD RESERVE TURF CLASSIC

As is often the case, the Kentucky Derby stole any accolades earned by the Woodford Reserve victor and it was particularly unjust this year as Einstein scored a win in this race for the 2nd straight year.  He confronted the leader, Cowboy Cal, just inside the eighth pole and they engaged in a dramatic deep stretch duel that ultimately went to the jet black son of Spend a Buck.  He has now won Grade I races on the turf and Pro-Ride this year and is arguably the most versatile animal we’ve seen in years.  If only we could have a few more horses as game as Einstein!

Click here to watch the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic

HUMANA DISTAFF 

Even after an impressive win in the Vinery Madison over the Polytrack at Keeneland, there was still some doubt about whether Informed Decision could be a top notch sprinter on conventional dirt.  A scorching early pace set by Dubai Majesty left this race up in the air and jockey Julien Leparoux had this daughter of Monarchos in high gear in the final furlong as she was up just in time.  She definitely benefited from race dynamics being strongly in her favor, but it was a great ride and a powerful effort, both factors that made the race a delight.

Click here to watch the Humana Distaff

Those are only four of the best performances of the weekend in some of the biggest races, as there are many more.  Mine That Bird will be in position to capture the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown as his connections announced today that he will be pointed to the Preakness.  We’ll see you back Tuesday to look at the week ahead in the racing world! 

Until then, take a look at Mine That Bird’s biggest lifetime win, prior to Saturday of course:

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