La. jockey, long shot horse win derby
Published 12:22 am Sunday, May 3, 2009
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Calvin Borel was in a familiar place, along the rail and urging Mine That Bird to fly through the mud. Trainer Bennie Woolley Jr. was someplace he never imagined — the Kentucky Derby, with his horse in the lead.
Together they pulled off one of the greatest upsets in 135 years of America’s most famous horse race.
‘‘It was a Street Sense move,’’ Borel said Saturday, referring to the same rail-hugging ride he gave that colt to win the Derby two years ago. ‘‘They can only go so fast, so far. When I hollered at him, he just went on.’’
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Sent off at 50-1 odds, Mine That Bird pulled away in the stretch to score a 6 3/4-length victory at Churchill Downs, the second-biggest upset in Derby history.
The gelding ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.66 and paid $103.20 to win.
Pioneerof the Nile finished second for freshly minted Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, a three-time Derby winner. Musket Man was another nose back in third, followed by Papa Clem.
Friesan Fire, the 7-2 wagering favorite of 153,563 fans, was 18th in the 19-horse field.
Earlier, I Want Revenge became the first morning-line favorite to be scratched on Derby Day after inflammation was detected in the colt’s left front ankle. The injury wasn’t believed to be career-threatening but worrisome enough to prompt trainer Jeff Mullins and owner David Lanzman to withdraw.
Mine That Bird got squeezed coming out of the starting gate, but Borel took a firm hold and wrestled the horse to the rail while they were in last place.
They stayed there the entire race, moving up to 12th after a mile, except for a key late move around a horse in their path. Borel found an opening in the stretch and shot the gelding through a tight spot inside of two other horses.
‘‘I had enough room,’’ Borel said. ‘‘He’s a small horse.’’
Once free, Mine That Bird quickly accelerated toward an improbable victory.
That sent Woolley, a former quarterhorse trainer who spent time on the rodeo circuit as a bareback rider, hobbling on crutches to the winner’s circle. The 45-year-old self-described cowboy from New Mexico broke his right leg in a motorcycle accident two months ago.
He met up with a tearful Borel, whose mind was on his parents and paid them tribute by crossing the finish line with his whip pointing to the overcast sky.
‘‘If they could only be here to see what I accomplish in my life,’’ he said, his voice choking.
Borel became the first jockey since 1993 to complete the Oaks-Derby double, having ridden Rachel Alexandra to an eye-popping 20 1/4-length victory Friday.
Woolley joined a parade of trainers who’ve won with their first Derby starter, the sixth time in seven years it has happened.