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Mine That Bird (foaled May 10, 2006) is an American Thoroughbred racehorse who had a racing career in both Canada and the United States from 2008 to 2010. He is best known for pulling off a monumental upset, at 50-to-1 odds, by winning the Kentucky Derby in 2009. He became one of only nine geldings to win the Kentucky Derby and the second gelding to win the race since 1929. He continued to have success in the two remaining races of the American Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing by finishing second in the 2009 Preakness Stakes and third in the 2009 Belmont Stakes. On November 6, 2010, Mine That Bird was retired from racing after being winless in nine starts following the Kentucky Derby. He amassed $2,228,637 in earnings and won five of eighteen starts during his three-year racing career.

Mine That Bird
Mine That Bird, Santa Anita Park, October, 2008.jpg
Mine That Bird at Santa Anita Park in Oct, 2009
DamMining My Own
DamsireSmart Strike
FoaledMay 10, 2006
CountryUnited States
BreederLamantia Blackburn & Needham/Betz Thoroughbreds
Owner1) Dominion Bloodstock, D. Ball and HGHR Inc.
2) Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine
Trainer1) David Cotey
2) Richard Mandella
3) Bennie L. "Chip" Woolley, Jr.
4) D. Wayne Lukas
Record18: 5-2-1
Major wins
Silver Deputy Stakes (2008)
Swynford Stakes (2008)
Grey Stakes (2008)
Triple Crown Race wins:
Kentucky Derby (2009)
Canadian Champion 2-yr-old Male Horse (2008)
Last updated on May 22, 2010


Mine That Bird was born in Kentucky. His sire is Birdstone (winner of the 2004 Belmont Stakes), and his dam is Mining My Own.[1][2] He is related to Northern Dancer from both of his parents and is related to Native Dancer and Mr. Prospector on his dam's side.

Racing careerEdit

Canadian trainer David Cotey purchased Mine That Bird for $9,500 from the 2007 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October Yearling Sale. He and his partners raced the gelding at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, where he won four of six starts and was voted the 2008 Canadian Champion 2-yr-old Male Horse.[2] Cotey nominated the horse for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and the Kentucky Derby. Chantal Sutherland rode him to victory in the Silver Deputy Stakes and the Swynford Stakes. After she and the horse won the Grey Stakes on October 11, 2008, the partnership accepted a $400,000 offer[2] from the New Mexico partnership of Double Eagle Ranch and Buena Suerte Equine. His new owners turned the gelding over to U.S. Racing Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. In the 2008 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Mine That Bird finished last of the twelve starters.[citation needed]

Racing in the United States at age three for new trainer Chip Woolley, in his 2009 debut on February 28, Mine That Bird finished second in the Borderland Derby, and on March 29 had a fourth-place finish in the Sunland Derby. Based on his career earnings in graded stakes races, he qualified as one of the twenty Kentucky Derby starters. Woolley, who had a broken foot at the time and was in a cast, loaded Mine That Bird into a horse trailer attached to his pickup truck and drove over 1,200 miles (perhaps 1,700 miles[3]) over 21 hours from New Mexico to get to the race.[4]

2009 Kentucky DerbyEdit

Following overnight rain, the Churchill Downs natural dirt track was rated as "sloppy" for the 2009 Kentucky Derby.[3] Ridden by Calvin Borel, Mine That Bird had trouble out of the starting gate and was left about eight lengths behind the rest of the field.[3] By the time the pack of horses was running down the backstretch, Mine That Bird was so far back that NBC's announcer Tom Durkin at first missed seeing him.[5]

Calvin Borel, using the ground-saving, rail-skimming riding technique that won him the 2007 Derby with Street Sense, charged past horses along the backstretch and at the turn for home moved into contention. Borel kept Mine That Bird on the rail, leaving it to go around just one tiring horse before ducking back onto the rail, where he exploded past Pioneerof the Nile and Musket Man so fast on the inside that Durkin, who was focused on the other two horses,[5] did not see "Bird" come through until he was already three lengths in the lead. Mine That Bird pulled away to win by 6​34 lengths for the longest margin of victory in over 60 years.[6] He ran the Derby's mile-and-a-quarter distance in 2 minutes 2.66 seconds.[2]

A two-dollar win wager returned $103.20, making Mine That Bird tied with Giacomo (horse) for the third-biggest upset winner in Kentucky Derby history,[2] behind 91-1 longshot Donerail in 1913 and 65-1 winner Country House (horse) in 2019.[7] Mine That Bird had the third longest odds in the 19-horse field, with only Atomic Rain (55-1) and Join in the Dance (51-1) being higher.[8]

2009 Preakness StakesEdit

The day after his Derby win, Mine That Bird's connections were uncertain if they would come back two weeks later and try for the Preakness Stakes. They planned to wait and assess the horse's condition first.[9]

Co-owner Mark Allen said, "The plan was that if he showed something here, to skip the Preakness and go to the Belmont, like his dad." His sire Birdstone won the Belmont Stakes in 2004, suggesting that Mine That Bird's breeding is for longer distances. Trainer Chip Woolley was concerned that the Preakness tends to have a quick pace that might not benefit his horse as much as the Belmont.

It was announced on May 4, 2009, on ESPN that Mine That Bird would run in the Preakness.[10]

Borel opted to ride his regular mount, the filly Rachel Alexandra, in the Preakness. Rachel Alexandra had won the Kentucky Oaks by 20 lengths with Borel aboard and was the favorite in the Preakness. The mount on Mine That Bird went to Mike Smith. Mine That Bird finished second, a length behind Rachel Alexandra. As with the Derby, Mine That Bird came from far back in the field on the final turn and was closing rapidly, but the finish line came before he could catch the filly.

2009 Belmont StakesEdit

Mine That Bird ran in the Belmont Stakes on June 6, 2009, where he was again ridden by Borel. After starting last, he began moving up along the backside. After taking the lead at the top of the stretch, he battled with Dunkirk and Charitable Man down the lane but was beaten by his brother Summer Bird and Dunkirk to finish third.

Subsequent racesEdit

Mine That Bird returned to racing with a 3rd-place finish in the West Virginia Derby on August 1, 2009. He then finished 9th in the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic on November 7, 2009.

New Mexico Horse of the YearEdit

On February 11, 2010, Mine That Bird was unanimously voted New Mexico Horse of the Year for 2009 by the New Mexico State House of Representatives. The bill was introduced by state representative Candy Spence Ezzell, who explained that "Dr. Leonard Blach and Mark Allen [Mine That Bird's owners] have brought New Mexico positive worldwide recognition." Dr. Blach, who was present for the proceedings, received a standing ovation from House members.[11]

On May 19, 2010, Mine That Bird was transferred to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. [12]


Pedigree of Mine That Bird, Gelding, Bay, 2006
Grindstone Unbridled Fappiano
Gana Facil
Buzz My Bell Drone
Dear Birdie Storm Bird Northern Dancer
South Ocean
Hush Dear Silent Screen
You All
Mining My Own
Smart Strike Mr. Prospector Raise A Native
Gold Digger
Classy 'n Smart Smarten
No Class
Aspenelle Vice Regent Northern Dancer
Victoria Regina
Little to Do Dynastic
Tribal to Do
  • Mine That Bird is inbred 4 x 4 to the stallion Northern Dancer, meaning that Northern Dancer appears twice in the fourth generation of his pedigree.

In popular cultureEdit

This story was made into a movie, 50 to 1, that was released on March 21, 2014. It stars Skeet Ulrich, Christian Kane and William Devane.

On the penultimate episode of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, which aired on January 21, 2010, host Conan O'Brien claimed that The Tonight Show had purchased Mine That Bird for a comedy bit at the expense of NBC. A chestnut horse which O'Brien introduced as Mine That Bird was brought out in a (supposedly) mink Snuggie and watched what O'Brien stated to be "restricted footage of NFL Super Bowl highlights". O'Brien stated the cost of the bit was $4.8 million.[13]

Rapper Lil Wayne makes a reference to the horse in his track "Always Strapped" Official Remix (Part 2).

Mine That Bird was featured in This American Life episode 398: "Long Shot."

Mine That Bird's owner Mark Allen plays a role in the true-crime drama Practice to Deceive by Ann Rule.


  1. ^ "Mine That Bird" (PDF). Equineline. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 20, 2009. Retrieved May 2, 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e Drape, Joe (2 May 2009). "Mine That Bird Uses Shortest Route to Win Derby". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  3. ^ a b c Blount, Rachel (2 May 2009). "Bird is the word at the Derby". Minnesota Star Tribune. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  4. ^ Moran, Paul (5 May 2009). "Mine That Bird won, so now what?". Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  5. ^ a b Hiestand, Michael (2009-05-03). "Kentucky Derby caller fails to keep his eye on longshot Bird". USA Today. Retrieved 2011-09-01.
  6. ^ "Margins" (PDF). Churchill Downs Incorporated. 2013. Retrieved 2015-11-15.
  7. ^ "Long-odds win in Kentucky Derby". BBC Sports. 2 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  8. ^ Liebman, Dan (3 May 2009). "Borel, Mine That Bird Soar in Derby Shocker". The Blood-Horse. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  9. ^ Privman, Jay (May 3, 2009). "Mine That Bird not certain for Preakness". Daily Racing Form and Archived from the original on May 5, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  10. ^ "Mine That Bird to run in Preakness". Associated Press. May 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-04.
  11. ^ Staff (Feb 12, 2010). "NM House Honors Mine That Bird". Retrieved 2010-02-12.
  12. ^ Privman, Jay (20 May 2010). "Mine That Bird goes to Lukas". ESPN. Retrieved 24 September 2012.
  13. ^ "Last Night on Late Night: Conan Finds New Ways to Waste NBC's Money", New York Magazine, January 2010.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit