Monday, May 04, 2009

Mine Those Odds

I watched the Kentucky Derby at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, outside of Dallas. I was there with my dad and a friend of his, and I bet lightly most of the day, saving up for the big race. Big mistake.

The bulk of my action in the Derby was on Dunkirk, a lightly raced but very promising horse that was 6-1 when I bet him. He stumbled out of the gate and was never a factor. The race was an ugly one, with 50-1 long shot Mine That Bird winning by the biggest margin since 1946.

It would seem he had two things going for him: a weak field (several potential favorites had slowly fallen out of the race over the last few months due to injury) and a brave, talented jockey (Calvin Borel just squeezed him through on the rail to make the final run). Otherwise, like Giacomo, another 50-1 shot who won in 2005, Mine That Bird seems destined to do not much from here on out. Yes, three-year-old horses can suddenly mature into better athletes, but Mine That Bird did a lot to earn his 50-1 status on Saturday. He finished dead last out of 12 horses in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile race, an early showcase for potential Derby horses. His two races before the Derby came at New Mexico's obscure-for-a-reason Sunland Park, and he didn't even win them.

Some observers seem eager to make this horse something he isn't. Like Mark Beech, who writes:
Yes, Mine That Bird ran the early part of the race in dead last and picked off tiring horses to win the race. But it was the way he did it that makes him look like he might be something special.
I think the only special thing about Mine That Bird will be his winning the Derby at 50-1. But I wouldn't mind being proven wrong. If he goes on to challenge for the Triple Crown, we've got a real story on our hands.


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