Saturday, Oct. 10, Santa Anita
The Low-Down: Someday we might look back on the 2009 racing season and be amazed at the remarkable equine talents toiling this year. A central player in this drama is the little gelding from New Mexico who scooted to a Kentucky Derby win. With Rachel Alexandra, Summer Bird and Zenyatta pretty much assured of their places in history, Mine That Bird has a chance to join the party in the Goodwood and avoid being a 50-1 footnote on the year.
Our Eyes: No less than Hall of Fame jockey and ESPN analyst Jerry Bailey says rider error cost Mine That Bird victories in his three races since Calvin Borel's daring dash along the Churchill rail. Now that Rachel Alexandra is done for the year, Borel is signed on for the duration. The Cajun should have no problem relaxing Mine That Bird at the rear of the 10-horse field despite the outside draw.
But there are formidable equine and historic hurdles in the way.
In the last 35 years, the list of Derby winners who failed in their initial starts in California subsequent to their Twin Spires triumph is sizeable. There are names like Seattle Slew, Alysheba, Sunday Silence and Silver Charm. None of the last 17 Derby winners who came to California beat older horses while still 3-year-olds.
That leads to the equine impediments. Colonel John proved on his best days he can shine (i.e. the Travers last summer). He comes off a brutal trip in the Pacific Classic. For good measure, the recipient of the troubled-trips in that race, Richard's Kid, will be out to make his Polytrack freak-out stand up on Pro-Ride. Tiago won this race as a 3-year-old in 2007 and was the best-finishing American horse in the Breeders' Cup Classic over this surface last fall.
The pace should be legitimate and Borel should have the opportunity to duplicate the Derby trip, but getting to the Breeders' Cup is the main goal in that camp. A short price on Mine That Bird might be tough to take at this point.
The Bottom Line: Key Mine That Bird in trifectas in the second and third spot. Have fun using horses like Tiago, Monzante, Parading and Gitano Hernando in the other places. Make a little win bet on the Derby winner if you want souvenirs.
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