From longshot to favourite

In the days leading to the Kentucky Derby, just about everybody ignored the little gelding tucked away in his stall at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby winner and Belmont Stakes hopeful Mine That Bird is led out of the stable for a bath after working out at Belmont Park

NEW YORK — In the days leading to the Kentucky Derby, just about everybody ignored the little gelding tucked away in his stall at Churchill Downs.

Mine That Bird, the former Canadian two-year-old champion who was a latecomer to the Derby field, had recently arrived in Louisville after a 19-hour trailer ride from New Mexico. His trainer Chip Woolley did the driving despite a broken right leg fused with a metal plate and 12 screws.

This was not big news, though, not with top three-year-olds such as I Want Revenge, Pioneerof the Nile, Friesan Fire and Dunkirk receiving all the attention. A lot has changed in five weeks: Mine That Bird won the Derby by an astonishing 63/4 lengths at 50-1 odds, came up a length short of the filly Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness and now is the 2-1 morning-line favourite for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

From longshot to people’s choice, Mine That Bird has become one of racing’s most popular racehorses, topped only by the sensational filly who won’t be running the final leg of the Triple Crown.

When Woolley led Mine That Bird, who was co-bred by Toronto’s Peter Lamantia, off a van and toward his barn at Belmont Park the other day, there were about 50 media members there to record every step.

“This is a lot different than when we arrived at Churchill Downs,” Woolley said. “Nobody even came to see me for the first week.”

Two days before Mine That Bird tries to win the 11/2-mile Belmont and make Calvin Borel the first jockey to win the Triple Crown on different horses, Woolley was asked if he ever thought he’d be in the national spotlight after a 25 years of training horses.

“It absolutely never crossed my mind,” he said Thursday. “It was a major surprise.”

Starting with the Derby.

Mine That Bird came into the race 0-for-2 at Sunland Park in New Mexico after earning the two-year-old championship in Canada, then finishing 12th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

A son of 2004 Belmont winner Birdstone, Mine That Bird was dismissed as the 17th choice in the 19-horse Derby field. Even Tom Durkin, who called the race on national television, was late in spotting him along the rail.

“The only person more surprised than me winning the Derby seemed to be you,” Woolley told Durkin at Wednesday’s post-position draw. Durkin took the ribbing in stride, replying “There are many times I wish I’d seen that race.”

Just Posted

City of Red Deer gets ball rolling on annexing more land

”It’s important we look ahead,” says Mayor Veer

Walmart melding online and in-store shopping

South Red Deer Walmart recently underwent six months of renovations

Updated: Nature trail unveiled at RDC

Trail unveiling and tree planting honours Nova Chemicals $2 million donation

Video: Windows smashed at three Red Deer businesses

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

OTTAWA — More than one million jobs could be lost to the… Continue reading

McGill research finds significant driving impairment 5 hours after cannabis use

MONTREAL — Driving under the influence of cannabis remains dangerous even five… Continue reading

Family: Remembering the important things

It seems so much of life is work and routine and then… Continue reading

Canada gets into Women’s World Cup with 7-0 win over Panama

FRISCO, Texas — Christine Sinclair isn’t concerned about chasing records. She’s set… Continue reading

Baldwin urges ‘overthrow’ of Trump government via voting

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Actor Alec Baldwin followed up his latest parody portrayal… Continue reading

Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

CANBERRA, Australia — Prince Harry and his wife, the Duchess of Sussex,… Continue reading

Sears files for Chapter 11 amid plunging sales, massive debt

NEW YORK — Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday, buckling… Continue reading

Doctors to debate medical pot as more patients expected to ask for prescriptions

VANCOUVER — Doctors with opposing views on whether medical marijuana should be… Continue reading

Most Read