One for the girls

Canadian champ Mine That Bird stunned naysayers on Saturday to come within a length of repeating his jaw-dropping Kentucky Derby victory at the Preakness Stakes, proving he’s far from a one-hit racehorse wonder.

Jockey Calvin Borel celebrates aboard Rachel Alexandra after winning the 134th running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday.

BALTIMORE — Canadian champ Mine That Bird stunned naysayers on Saturday to come within a length of repeating his jaw-dropping Kentucky Derby victory at the Preakness Stakes, proving he’s far from a one-hit racehorse wonder.

Rachel Alexandra became the first filly to win the Preakness since 1924, but she did it with a feisty Mine That Bird nipping at her heels in the final stretch.

The diminutive gelding, Canada’s 2008 two-year-old champion, was the subject of almost as much buzz in the aftermath of the thrilling race because of how close he came to cruising past her.

“He’s a tough little dude,” said jockey Mike Smith, who climbed aboard Mine That Bird for the first time just a few minutes before the race.

“He worked his way through there and kept on trying. If we could have gone another sixteenth of a mile, I think he would have tackled her.”

One racing veteran who suspected Mine That Bird was a flash in the pan was floored by his performance on Saturday.

“I am surprised and impressed,” said John Shapiro, a 68-year-old Pimlico veteran who’s been working at racetracks since he was 15 years old.

“He’s a smart, courageous horse. People are sure paying attention to him now.”

Rachel Alexandra was the odds-on favourite for the 134th running of the Preakness while Mine That Bird came into the race with 6-1 odds, tied for third with Friesen Fire.

She and Mine That Bird, a descendent of Canadian legend Northern Dancer, could square off again at the Belmont in two weeks.

Rachel Alexandra’s handlers say they’ll monitor the filly before deciding for sure whether to enter her in the Belmont, while Bennie (Chip) Woolley Jr., Mine That Bird’s trainer, says the gelding will be there.

The Belmont, a longer race that favours Mine That Bird’s late running style, is held on June 6 in New York. Mine That Bird’s father, Birdstone, won the third jewel in the elusive American Triple Crown in 2004.

The gelding’s underdog story had already drawn comparisons to Seabiscuit, another underestimated racehorse who thrilled Depression-era crowds with his big wins against well-heeled competitors.

With Mine That Bird’s bargain-basement yearling purchase price of US$9,500, an injured trainer who hauled him by trailer across the country for the Derby and his small stature, the gelding has seemingly answered the call for a modern-day Cinderella story from those yearning for one in the racing world.

The story got even more Hollywood this week at the Pimlico, where Mine That Bird’s occupation of famed Stall No. 40, which once housed Triple Crown winners Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed, was viewed with skepticism.

Even Calvin Borel, the daring jockey who steered the gelding into a narrow gap along the rail at the Derby and to ultimate victory, snubbed Mine That Bird in favour of Rachel Alexandra. Borel’s switch marked the first time a jockey surrendered a shot at the Triple Crown by switching from the Derby winner to a different horse in the Preakness.

Just Posted

City Hall Park construction begins next week

Construction to update Red Deer’s City Hall Park is set to begin… Continue reading

PHOTOS: Jazz at the Lake begins

The 16 annual event began Friday and runs until Sunday in Sylvan Lake

Photos: Lunchtime tunes on Alexander Way

Final concert of the summer

Clearwater regional firefighters in B.C.

Crew operating west of Prince George

PHOTOS: Samson Cree Nation Pow Wow

The Samson Cree Nation hosted its annual Pow Wow, celebrating youth last weekend

WATCH: Feasting at Red Deer Ribfest this weekend

Ribfest runs until Sunday at Rotary Recreation Park

Canadians believe in immigration but concerned about asylum seekers: study

OTTAWA — Canadians are generally supportive of current immigration levels, a survey… Continue reading

Quebec announces plan to compensate taxi drivers after Uber’s arrival

MONTREAL — The Quebec government has outlined how it intends to compensate… Continue reading

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

OTTAWA — The loss of Saudi Arabian resident physicians in Canada’s hospitals… Continue reading

PHOTOS: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

The rest of the province also dealing with thick haze as smoky skies continue

Death Valley worker has seen highest, lowest temperatures

LAS VEGAS — Thousands of tourists descend on Death Valley each summer… Continue reading

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

BANFF, Alta. — An internationally known ski resort in Banff National Park… Continue reading

Folk singer Ian Tyson cancels show due to ‘serious medical situation’

TORONTO — Canadian folk singer-songwriter Ian Tyson has cancelled his appearance at… Continue reading

Judge lifts publication ban, revealing details about Fredericton shooting

FREDERICTON — Newly released documents reveal how last week’s deadly attack unfolded… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month