You want to talk about a longshot?
The trainer, Bennie Wooley, Jr:
Already had a shattered right leg, not exactly good karma in horse racing.
Total number of wins in 2009? One. Uno. And not even a graded-stakes race.
Former job? Rodeo rider. Wooley looks somewhere across between Tim McGraw and Richard Petty. He brought some ‘cowboy’ to the uppity Derby, usually ruled by sheiks, captains of industry and women in fancy hats and dresses.
The horse, Mine That Bird:
Sold as a yearling to his original owners for $9,500, roughly the price of a used 2003 Accord. (By comparison, Dunkirk, another horse in the race, was sold at auction for $3.7 million.)
Last finish? Fourth, in the Sunland Derby, not even a graded-stakes race.
Last win? Oct. 5, 2008, back when he was under different ownership and doing his work at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto.
Vanned 1700 miles from New Mexico to Louisville by Wooley with his broken leg. (Can you picture Bob Baffert behind the wheel of a horse van, hauling a Derby colt across the country?)
Only gelding in the race.
Started the race dead last. Way last. After a quarter mile of the 1¼-mile race, the horse was six lengths behind the 18th-place horse.
None of that mattered.
Improbably, Mine That Bird stunned the field to win the Kentucky Derby with a dynamic stretch run through the mud. Now legendary jockey Calvin Borel did what he does best and hugged the rail deep in the stretch, then pulled away from the rest of the field like they were running in quicksand. It was Borel’s second Derby win in three years.
So next time you think you’re outclassed, outgunned, outspent and don’t belong in the game, remember the odds that Bennie, Calvin and Mine That Bird faced.
Then, hug the rail.
(Watch the replay in the video below. The overhead view, from 7:30 – 8:00 and again from 9:30 to 10:09 is the most best angle to see the amazing stretch run.)