LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- A Canadian champion has earned one of the most unlikely victories in the history of the Kentucky Derby.
Mine That Bird, who entered as a 50-1 long shot, pulled away on the backstretch and cruised to a stunning 6 ¾-length win at the 135th Run for the Roses on Saturday.
Mine That Bird, the son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone, was well-known in Canada, winning last year's Sovereign Award as the top two-year-old in the country after capturing three stakes. But the three-yearold colt, co-bred by Toronto's Peter Lamantia, wasn't given much of a shot of winning the first jewel in the U.S. thoroughbred triple crown.
After languishing behind the lead pack heading through the final turn, Mine That Bird, led by jockey Calvin Borel, found another gear and streaked ahead mere inches from the rail, leaving the field behind on a muddy day at Churchill Downs.
"I am so happy for him," said Toronto native Dave Cotey, Mine That Bird's former owner and trainer. "I'm ecstatic. I'd love to be down there to give him a big kiss."
Cotey, who originally purchased Mine That Bird for US$9,500, watched the Derby from Woodbine Racetrack.
"When I saw him closing on the rail, I yelled, 'Here he comes!"' said Cotey, who later sold the horse to a New Mexico-based ranch. "I almost lost my voice. I'm just so happy for him and his connections.
"We did well with him. He always brought his A-game to the races. He was a nice horse to be around and work with."
Mine That Bird finished in 2:02 3/5, with Pioneerof The Nile second and Musket Man third.
Papa Clem, sired by Canadian-bred Smart Strike, finished fourth.
Pioneerof the Nile held off Musket Man for second, but neither was a match for the unheralded Mine That Bird.
Friesan Fire, who became the favourite after I Want Revenge was scratched earlier in the day, finished a distant 18th in the 19-horse field.
Borel thrust his right arm in triumph as he crossed the wire, and trainer Chip Woolley hobbled to hoist the trophy. The trainer from New Mexico broke his right leg in a motorcycle accident over the winter and drove his stable's star 21 hours to Churchill Downs.
-- The Canadian Press