The Brock Talk

Monday, May 18, 2009

We Now Know Mine That Bird And The Boys.

Two weeks ago I, like many of us, was sitting at my computer googling, Facebooking, Tweeting and e-mailing in an effort to learn more about the folks that brought Mine That Bird from Sunland Park near El Paso, Texas to Churchill Downs to win the Kentucky Derby. I was also trying to figure out who Mine That Bird was quite frankly.

I knew a little about co-owner Dr. Leonard Blach because of the long and storied history of his Buena Suerte Farm near Roswell, New Mexico. But I had never heard of Blach's partner Mark Allen nor trainer Chip Woolley, Jr.

In the two weeks since, Allen has pretty much revealed who he is when he tried to develope a way to exclude Rachel Alexandra from Preakness. Add that to his connections to oil and political corruption in Alaska, his stories about bar fights and we pretty much know Mr. Allen now.

Woolley, despite the new found spotlight and glamour of being a Kentucky Derby winning trainer, continued to quietly train Mine That Bird in preperation for the Preakness. The more we became familiar with Woolley, the more he looked the part of an old throwback cowboy horsemen who reminded us of more of the quiet and unorthosox Tom Smith who trained Seabiscuit. But we really didn't know if he could train horses like Smith. We were still thinking Mine That Bird was more probably a one-hit wonder than a Triple Crown winner.

That is until jockey Mike Smith pushed the "go" button on Mine That Bird about a half-mile from the finish line in the Preakness and the little, homely brown gelding started passing horses so quickly that if you looked away momentarily, you lost him because he was moving so fast through the field. He then got stopped by traffic, started his run again, stopped again and swung out wide as they turned for home. He then turned on the afterburners for the third time in less than 25 seconds. F-16 fighter jets can't do that.

And while Rachel Alexandra appeared to be the winner in gallop, here came Mine That Bird and Mike Smith in a furious and determined pursuit. The two were foiled by simply running out of ground before Rachel Alexandra reached the finish line ahead of him.

So now we know Mine That Bird. He's no one-hit wonder. And if Rachel Alexandra goes to the Belmont, she better be at the top of her game if she is to hold him off in the 1-1/2 mile marathon. Judging by the way he strutted onto the Pimlico turf course to be saddled for the Preakness, it looks like Mine That Bird knows he's something special now too.

And we know enough about Chip Woolley Jr. to summize he's no drugstore cowboy. He's probably got more than one pair of spurs, more than one pair of chaps, at least two or three cowboy hats and as many pairs of boots. We also know he can care for and train a race horse.

We know Dr. Leonard Blach a little better after he recalled the Derby experience during the NBC Preakness telecast, repeatedly pausing from the emotions. Relatively quiet during the previous two weeks, Dr. Blach spoke and acted like a horseman while holding a grazing Mine That Bird during the interviews on NBC.

Mark Allen is who we thought he was. Bad grammar, poor judgement, and dresses like he may have robbed the Cavendar's Boot City in Alamagordo for his Triple Crown ensemble. But he mustered enough class to somewhat apologize for his plan to keep the filly out of the Preakness and seems to understand that he's not in West Texas anymore. He needs to watch his words and actions a little more carefully when the world is watching and listening.

Every sport needs a bad guy. Baseball has the Yankees. Pro football has the Cowboys and college football USC. The NBA had Dennis Rodman and now thoroughbred racing has Mark Allen. And quite frankly I hope he pulls another gaff or two in the coming weeks befoe the Belmont. He's colorful, if he's nothing.

What's most important to me and horse racing though, is that he has one heckuva nice race horse. And we now know it.


ray paulick said...

How can you say USC are bad guys? It's a class act all the way.

Brock Sheridan said...

Not to infer that any of these programs are not classy. Class and the NCAA could be a whole other blog, though. And I'm not excluding my Arizona Wildcats. Mackovic stripped us of our class badges for a while.

Lynne Veitch said...

I like this. Wooley sure seems like a Tom Smith type. & MTB even looks a little like Seabiscuit. He's got gorgeous eyes as shown in the latest Bloodhorse cover shot.