Home Sports Local Sports Mine That Bird 10-year anniversary – history revisited

Mine That Bird 10-year anniversary – history revisited

Mine That Bird, the 2009 Kentucky Derby champion horse, is pictured with Dr. Leonard Blach. (J.T. Keith Photo)

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There’s an easiness that comes with immortality, a grace in knowing that no matter what happens to the men involved with Mine That Bird, their names will be mentioned in Kentucky Derby lore for the rest of their lives.

A picture of Mine That Bird, the 2009 Kentucky Derby champion. (J.T. Keith Photo)

Dr. Leonard Blach, Mark Allen and Bennie Woolley Jr., their names will be mentioned once a year into perpetuity when it comes to horse racing. The fact is, no matter what happens to them, or what they do for the rest of their lives, winning the Kentucky Derby will be the first thing said about them and on their obituary.

Before getting out of the car, “Doc” was in his office and stepped out to greet me, inviting me to sit down. In his office are memorabilia of a lot of his horses, pictures of the most famous race he’s won and silks framed along with other things from a lifetime spent in the racing business.

While there, the phone rang with a request to come to visit Mine That Bird. People would stop by to say hi to “Doc” and check on him. He gets phone calls from all over the world, with people coming to visit from Seattle, Washington State, and every state, just to see the horse. People have brought three generations to visit and have their picture taken with Mine That Bird. On the horse’s birthday, people will send boxes and boxes of peppermints to “Doc” to feed him, since that is his favorite treat.

“Doc” is the perfect ambassador for horse racing in the state of New Mexico. He’s a gentleman, accessible and friendly with his time, knowledge of horse racing and Mine That Bird. He’s quick to tell people it was his horse that did all of the work.

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It is still hard for him to fathom that NBC came out and spent all day with him last week because it’s the 10th anniversary of Mine That Bird’s stunning 50-to-1 upset, and that other media outlets have called and come out these past couple of weeks, as well.

“I always tell people,” “Doc” said, “I didn’t win the Kentucky Derby, my horse did.”

Mine That Bird’s victory was so big that Hollywood made a movie of the race and the characters in 2014. The Cowboys, as they were called in the movie, showed how they never lost the touch of New Mexico as they went to the big time and Woolley Jr., and Allen always wore their black cowboy hats.

This is the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby, which will run next Saturday at 4:50 p.m. Mountain Time. The Roswell Daily Record Sports will run a series of interviews this week from Dr. Blach and Allen and an article on Mine That Bird, the kind of horse he was, along with recent photos. The series is to highlight their accomplishments as they shocked the racing world.

Just a reminder of what they did: Allen and Blach sent Woolley to Canada to look at Mine That Bird from Dominion Bloodstock, D. Ball and HGHR Inc., trained by David Coty and Richard Mandella before Woolley Jr. took over.

Allen and Blach bought Mine That Bird for $400,000 and the horse had performed well enough in Canada to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. In Canada, the horse won four of six starts and was voted Canadian 2-year-old Male Horse. With Woolley Jr. training the horse, in the two races they ran before the Derby, they would finish second and fourth.

“My goal was not to finish last,” “Doc” said, “before the race.”

The night before the race, it rained and the track was sloppy. Out of the gate, Mine That Bird was bumped by two horses. During the run, ‘Bird was 30 lengths off the pace and in last place. On the last turn of the race, Calvin Borel caught up with the rest of the field.

Borel moved the horse to the outside and passed a horse at the 3/8 pole, made a move to the inside rail and started passing the rest of the 19 horses, before passing second-place finisher Pioneerof the Nile and third-place finisher Musket Man to win the race by 6 3/4 lengths, with a winning time of 2 minutes and 2.66 seconds.

Mine That Bird became one of nine geldings to win the Kentucky Derby. His win became the second biggest upset in Derby history — second to Donerail in 1913, who was a 91-1 shot. A $2 bet on Mine That Bird would have returned $103.20.

“Go ahead and dream,” Blach told the world after the race.

The goal is to celebrate these men and the horse for the history they made for themselves — all of New Mexico, but especially, Roswell. The goal of the Roswell Daily Record Sports department is to give the sports readers an in-depth look of how these men and their families felt going through the experience of the Kentucky Derby.

RDR Sports wants to try and show what getting there and what winning meant to their lives and how the victory has changed their lives. On Tuesday, we will take a look at the life of octogenarian, Blach. He’s retired, but not officially as he greets visitors at the ranch to show Mine That Bird.

Blach is on the racing board commission of New Mexico. It is an interesting fact that of all of the championship horses he’s had, Mine That Bird would be one of his favorites, along with Go Man Go, ranking up there equally.

On Wednesday, RDR Sports will take a look at Allen and how this race affected his life.

The RDR Sports has called and will try to interview trainer Woolley and rider Calvin Borel along with others. Later in the week, RDR Sports will revisit Dexter Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith. Smith is riding in this year’s Derby and RDR Sports will talk to him about last year’s Triple Crown win. RDR sports will talk about his ride this year, and his ride on Mine That Bird in the Preakness, as he came up just short of catching Mine That Bird.

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