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By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Kevin Van Valkenburg,kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com | May 16, 2009
On the eve of the Preakness, if there is any part of you that believes a Triple Crown is still a possibility, then you should probably view Mine That Bird's improbable victory in the Kentucky Derby this way: The horse, the scion of Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone, never had a trainer or jockey who understood what he was capable of before Chip Woolley and Calvin Borel. Sure, he was a 50-1 long shot going into the Derby and he had never won a Grade I stakes race, but he had run well and been right there in the Sunland Derby.
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By From Sun staff and news services | August 27, 2009
Horse racing After surgery, Mine That Bird to skip Shadwell Travers Owners Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach and trainer Chip Woolley announced Wednesday that Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird will not enter Saturday's 140th running of the Grade I, $1 million Shadwell Travers, citing continued concerns about an entrapped epiglottis that was repaired Aug. 18. "We've decided to err on the side of caution and pass this race up and aim down the road to...
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SPORTS
By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Kevin Van Valkenburg,kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com | June 4, 2009
ELMONT, N.Y. -- Chip Woolley waited patiently Wednesday morning for Mine That Bird's name to be called at the Belmont Stakes post-position draw. Woolley, though, isn't the most patient man on the planet. So when racing announcer and master of ceremonies Tom Durkin paused to ask Woolley which of the two remaining positions he would prefer - the six or the seven - Woolley shot him a look that contained equal parts bemusement and impatience. "It don't matter none," Woolley said. Mine That Bird ended up with the seventh position and will begin the week as a 2-1 favorite in the 141st running of the Belmont Stakes.
SPORTS
By From Sun staff and news services | July 2, 2009
The Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association have set their schedule for the rest of 2009, and it includes the return of the Grade I Frank J. De Francis Dash after a one-year hiatus. After a 10-week break, live racing will return to Maryland on Aug. 1 at Laurel Park. The 11-day summer stand will conclude Aug. 23, with live racing taking place Friday (3:35 p.m. twilight post time), Saturday and Sunday for three consecutive weeks after opening weekend. That's one more day of summer racing than the MTHA held last year, according to Mike Gathagan, vice president-communications of the Maryland Jockey Club.
SPORTS
By Brent Jones and Sandra McKee and Brent Jones and Sandra McKee,brent.jones@baltsun.com | May 15, 2009
For the first time this week, horses at Pimlico Race Course had to slosh through early-morning rain during workouts, but that posed no problem for Mine That Bird, who galloped two miles in preparation for Saturday's 134th Preakness. The Kentucky Derby winner cruised to victory on a wet track two weeks ago and looked equally comfortable during Thursday's rain. Jockey Calvin Borel rode the 50-1 long shot to victory at Churchill Downs but is switching to favorite Rachel Alexandra for Saturday's race.
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By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Kevin Van Valkenburg,kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com | May 3, 2009
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -When the field turned for home Saturday in the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby, the primary emotion that rippled through the crowd at Churchill Downs wasn't excitement, and it wasn't euphoria. It was utter confusion. Who in the world was the horse hugging the inside, surging from last place as if he had found an invisible jet stream, shooting a gap so tight he brushed the rail, and pulling into not just the lead but a huge lead? Racing forms were consulted, heads were scratched, and disbelief spread as jaws everywhere were agape.
SPORTS
By Sandra McKee and Sandra McKee,sandra.mckee@baltsun.com | May 13, 2009
There have been distractions this week - Rachel Alexandra's new owners deciding to enter the filly in the 134th Preakness and creating buzz among horse fans, and the owners of Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird talking about how to keep her out. But Tuesday evening, when Mine That Bird arrived by van at Pimlico Race Course surrounded by a police escort, the eyes of the racing world were back on the petite Kentucky Derby winner. Mine That Bird clearly enjoyed his stardom. After being unloaded, fed and watered, Mine That Bird was brought out of Stall 40, traditional home of Derby winners, and walked into the light and evening air. To the surprise of photographers, he stood and posed for pictures like a model.
SPORTS
By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Kevin Van Valkenburg,kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com | May 30, 2009
Rachel Alexandra might one day run against the boys again, but it won't be at the 141st running of the Belmont Stakes next Saturday. The filly's owners said Friday in a statement that the Preakness winner would not enter the third leg of the Triple Crown, removing one of the horses many racing fans had hoped to see in New York next week. "We know the media and many fans would have liked to see her run in the Belmont Stakes - we feel the same," co-owner Jess Jackson said. "But all of us sincerely interested in the horse must agree that we only want to see her run when it is best for her. While she is in great shape, having strong works and recovering well from her amazing performances, we feel Rachel deserves a well-earned vacation."
SPORTS
By Ken Murray and Ken Murray,ken.murray@baltsun.com | May 18, 2009
Jockey Mike Smith's second-place Preakness finish aboard Mine That Bird earned him another trip on the bay gelding from New Mexico. Trainer Chip Woolley Jr. said Sunday that Smith will ride Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes on June 6, even if Rachel Alexandra skips the race. Calvin Borel rode Mine That Bird to a huge upset in the Kentucky Derby, then switched to Rachel Alexandra for the Preakness. Woolley was pleased with Smith's ride in heavy traffic at Pimlico Race Course on Saturday, when he came off the rail to challenge the filly down the stretch.
SPORTS
By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Kevin Van Valkenburg,kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com | June 4, 2009
ELMONT, N.Y. -- Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel might be the talk of the Belmont Stakes this week as Borel tries to become the first jockey to win three Triple Crown races despite having ridden two different horses. But there is a growing sense within the sport that Mine That Bird, who was named the 2-1 favorite at the post position draw Wednesday, won't be the horse to beat Saturday. That honor might go to Charitable Man, who didn't run in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness but won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 9. "I wouldn't trade horses with anybody else," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Wednesday after his horse drew the No. 6 position and 3-1 morning-line odds.
SPORTS
By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Kevin Van Valkenburg,kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com | June 7, 2009
ELMONT, N.Y. - -Kent Desormeaux and Calvin Borel not only took different paths around the track in Saturday's 141st running of the Belmont Stakes, with Borel going outside and Desormeaux hugging the inside, but the two jockeys also used different pre-race tactics. Desormeaux rode in a handful of early races on the card, winning three straight at one point, while Borel didn't ride until the Belmont. While Borel might have been better rested, Desormeaux said he felt as if the extra confidence he picked up from those victories helped him. He also got a good feel for the track, something Borel might not have had, considering he had not ridden in the Belmont Stakes before Saturday.
SPORTS
By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Kevin Van Valkenburg,kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com | June 7, 2009
ELMONT, N.Y. - -The Belmont Stakes has always had a cruel and sneaky sense of humor. The track nicknamed "Big Sandy" is so gorgeous and picturesque that it almost encourages its competitors to dream big, right before it punches them in the face, steals their wallet and breaks their heart. Few jockeys understand this better than Kent Desormeaux, a 39-year-old Hall of Famer who twice has had a Triple Crown snatched from his grasp on the 1 1/2 -mile New York track. And so as Desormeaux rode Summer Bird to an unlikely victory Saturday in the 141st running of the Belmont - passing Mine That Bird and Dunkirk on the final stretch - a small part of him understood what Calvin Borel was going through.
SPORTS
By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Kevin Van Valkenburg,kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com | June 6, 2009
BELMONT, N.Y. -- Unless you were one of the few to place a bid on him, hardly anyone remembers that Da'Tara won the Belmont Stakes last year. All the focus was on Big Brown's bid for the Triple Crown, and when he completely flopped, Da'Tara's improbable wire-to-wire victory at 38-1 odds seemed like an afterthought. Trainer Nick Zito doesn't mind, however. In fact, he kind of likes flying under the radar. He has certainly had success at the Belmont. In 20 chances, he has won twice, finished second six times and third three times.
SPORTS
By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Kevin Van Valkenburg,Kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com | June 6, 2009
BELMONT, N.Y. - -Maybe Calvin Borel didn't envision it would be quite like this. Maybe he never dreamed he would have a chance to grab his own quirky piece of history today in the 141st running of the Belmont Stakes atop Mine That Bird, as he tries to become the first jockey to win all three races of the Triple Crown series on two different horses. But Borel has always believed. Anyone who knows him and loves him can attest to that. He has always dreamed of the day when he would ride racehorses faster and better than anyone else in the country.
SPORTS
By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Kevin Van Valkenburg,kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com | June 5, 2009
BELMONT, N.Y. -- Perhaps more than any horse in the field of the Belmont Stakes, it's almost impossible to predict what Dunkirk is going to do Saturday. When he was purchased for $3.7 million at auction, plenty of people expected big things from Dunkirk, including his trainer, Todd Pletcher. But it has been something of a roller-coaster ride since. The horse almost didn't make the Kentucky Derby field through graded earnings, then did get in and went off as the second choice at 5-1. The horse stumbled out of the gate and then got pinched between Pioneerof the Nile and Papa Clem at the halfway point and finished 19 lengths behind eventual winner Mine That Bird.
SPORTS
By Peter Schmuck and Peter Schmuck,peter.schmuck@baltsun.com | June 5, 2009
N ews item: The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has ranked Oriole Park ninth on its top-10 list of vegetarian-friendly major league ballparks and the Frederick Keys' Harry Grove Stadium fourth on its corresponding list of minor league parks that cater to vegetarian fans. My take: That's nice, but I still subscribe to the simple philosophy that if God didn't want us to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them out of meat. News item: Mine That Bird, who went off at 50-1 odds in the Kentucky Derby, was posted as the early favorite for Saturday's 141st running of the Belmont Stakes.
NEWS
May 5, 2009
After winning a conference championship, does an NFL owner spend a lot of time pondering whether to go to the Super Bowl? Does the manager of a pennant winning baseball team say, "I'll think about the World Series thing and get back to you in a few days?" Alas, when it rains it pours on Maryland horse racing. An industry that has endured ruinous competition from other forms of legalized gambling over the past two decades, declining attendance, a gradual loss of racing dates, the slots brouhaha, and most recently, bankruptcy and the possibility of state takeover through eminent domain, found itself all wet again over the weekend.
SPORTS
By Ken Murray and Ken Murray,ken.murray@baltsun.com | May 17, 2009
Rachel Alexandra stumbled at the start and struggled down the stretch, but the heralded filly was still good enough to beat surging Mine That Bird to the wire in the 134th Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Pimlico Race Course. The stirring, one-length victory proved to be vindication for all concerned - for owner Jess Jackson, who opted to send the 3-year-old filly against the boys; for Calvin Borel, who became the first jockey to abandon a Kentucky Derby winner for another Preakness horse; and for Mine That Bird, the smallish gelding with the giant finishing kick.
SPORTS
By Kevin Van Valkenburg and Kevin Van Valkenburg,kevin.vanvalkenburg@baltsun.com | June 4, 2009
ELMONT, N.Y. -- Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel might be the talk of the Belmont Stakes this week as Borel tries to become the first jockey to win three Triple Crown races despite having ridden two different horses. But there is a growing sense within the sport that Mine That Bird, who was named the 2-1 favorite at the post position draw Wednesday, won't be the horse to beat Saturday. That honor might go to Charitable Man, who didn't run in the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness but won the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 9. "I wouldn't trade horses with anybody else," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Wednesday after his horse drew the No. 6 position and 3-1 morning-line odds.
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