Derby Epilogue: As long as you live….

….you may never again see something as improbable as this.  (That was embarassing.)


To understand, from a handicapper’s perspective, how impossible this outcome is, you have to understand the numbers.  Folks throw money at longshots at the Derby routinely, based on story, based on name, based on number, but handicappers know who has a shot and who doesn’t.  This horse, my friends, had NO shot.

If you look at the Daily Racing Form Past Performance (the horse handicapping Bible), Mine That Bird had PP’s that didn’t qualify him to run in a Grade 3 stakes race for three-year-olds.  His top “Beyer” was 81…. compared with 104 for Friesan Fire, 108 for Dunkirk, even 98 for Musket Man.  He just didn’t rate.

This was the equine equivalent of the Boiling Springs High School football team knocking off USC for the national title.  Never before has a horse so overmatched on paper delivered such a dominating performance.  It wasn’t close.  6-3/4 lengths, broader than Barbaro or Smarty Jones by far.  The Detroit Lions just won the Super Bowl by 4 touchdowns.

So what are the lessons here?  Lesson #1: You want Calvin Borel at the Derby.  The dude is 1st, 3rd, and 1st in three tries.  He knows how to get a horse home against a big field at Churchill Downs.  He goes up the rail, the shortest distance between two points.

Lesson #2: it’s gotten harder to read 3-year-olds.  This probably has something to do with the mystery added by synthetic tracks, and something to do with the abbreviated records we now often see pre-Derby.  We don’t know who is good on dirt, who is good on mud, who is good under duress.  It should push us toward more longshots.

Lesson #3: Off tracks bring surprises.  The mud at Churchill is sticky and slow.  It ain’t like any other slop.  Ask Larry Jones and Friesan Fire.

Here are the prices (nice superfecta if you had it):

11th Race

Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1)

Next Post 7:28  Off: 6:28 | 1 1/4 Miles | 3 Year Olds | Stakes | Purse: $2,177,200

# Horse Jockey Weight Win Place Show
8 Mine That Bird Borel C H 126 103.20 54.00 25.80
16 Pioneerof the Nile Gomez G K 126   8.40 6.40
2 Musket Man Coa E M 126     12.00

Times in 5ths:  :224  :471  1:12  1:372  2:023

Times in 100ths:  :22.98  :47.23  1:12.09  1:37.49  2:02.66

Scratched: I Want Revenge

Also ran: Papa Clem, Chocolate Candy, Summer Bird, Join in the Dance, Regal Ransom, West Side Bernie, General Quarters, Dunkirk, Hold Me Back, Advice, Desert Party, Mr. Hot Stuff, Atomic Rain, Nowhere to Hide, Friesan Fire and Flying Private

Winning Trainer: Woolley Bennie L Jr – Owner: Double Eagle Ranch and Bueno Suerte Equine

$2   Pick 3  (3-6-8)  3 Correct Paid $2,905.00  Pick 3  Pool $1,171,623

$2   Pick 3  (OAKS/WOOD/DERBY 6-6-8)  3 Correct Paid $831.60  Pick 3  Pool $525,734

50 CENT   Pick 4  (3-3-1/6-8)  4 Correct Paid $10,221.15  Pick 4  Pool $1,846,112

$2   Pick 6  (6-4-3-3-1/6-8)  5 Correct Paid $1,718.80  Pick 6  Pool $1,058,849  Carryover Pool $781,146

$2   Daily Double  (6-8)  Paid $632.40  Daily Double  Pool $754,376

$2   Daily Double  (OAKS/DERBY 6-8)  Paid $248.40  Daily Double  Pool $1,514,974

$2   Exacta  (8-16)  Paid $2,074.80

$2   Consolation Pick 3  (OAKS/WOOD/DERBY 6-1-13)  Paid $2.10

$2   Consolation Pick 3  (OAKS/WOOD/DERBY 6-1-8)  Paid $332.20

$2   Consolation Pick 3  (OAKS/WOOD/DERBY 6-6-13)  Paid $6.00

$2   Future Wager  (EXACTA POOL 2 24-17)  Paid $256.80

$2   Future Wager  (EXACTA POOL 3 24-16)  Paid $554.60

$2   Future Wager  (POOL 1 – 24)  Paid $5.80

$2   Future Wager  (POOL 2 – 24)  Paid $11.80

$2   Future Wager  (POOL 3 – 24)  Paid $36.80

$2   Superfecta  (8-16-2-7)  Paid $557,006.40

$2   Trifecta  (8-16-2)  Paid $41,500.60

$2   Consolation Double  (OAKS/DERBY 6-13)  Paid $2.40

We’ll see you at the Preakness.  It’ll be wide open.  All I can say is this: you just had your last chance to bet Mine That Bird at 50 to 1.  The tougher question is — what should his odds be now?

Regards, Peach, Handicapper Aghast

3 Responses to “Derby Epilogue: As long as you live….”

  1. equestrian equipment Says:

    wow…really helpful post, thanks for sharing.

  2. Timothy Peach Says:

    Apologies for forcing you to read it.

    Some overnight thoughts on how Mine That Bird was possible. He’s a horse stuck on synthetic tracks in Canada as a two-year-old, ends up at Sunland in New Mexico with a 1-for-32 trainer who doesn’t know what he has and is trying to figure it out. Puts him in a non-graded stakes race, puts him on the pace, and he holds for a good second.

    Next time out the horse gets outrun early, tries to make a mid-move, and comes up empty in the stretch.

    Don’t know how he got in the Derby… had no graded earnings at all. All he had was a nomination that made it cheaper to run than some others….

    So Calvin gets up on him for the first time, knows he has no early foot, and gets bumped hard out of the gate. So he says, “Screw it. I’ll let him relax back here and we’ll see what happens. Give him time to settle into this thing, who knows what he has late.”

    And what Calvin found out is what he was riding was a classic deep closer who likes it soft underfoot. Horse is probably going to be a great turf horse later in life (and he’ll run for a long time since he’s a gelding). Built to sit back and wait, and then run all day. Maybe we’ll see him in a Turf Classic at a mile and a half some day.

    At any rate, a shocker for the ages.

  3. Timothy Peach Says:

    Sorry, I assumed that was sarcastic.

    Maybe it wasn’t…

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