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Mine That Bird flies to shock win

MINE That Bird turned a sloppy Churchill Downs track into his personal playground by winning the 135th Kentucky Derby in Louisville on Saturday in the second-biggest upset in America's most celebrated race.

Calvin Borel guided the 50-1 outsider along the rail in a dramatic stretch run to win the US$2 million race by six-and-three-quarter lengths over Pioneerof the Nile.

Borel flew past 12 horses by using a move similar to the one he applied aboard Street Sense to win the 2007 Kentucky Derby.

He said: "I learnt by Street Sense, being so patient with these three-year-olds. They can only go so fast and so far.

"So I sat back and had a good trip and when I hollered at him he just went on."

The winning time for the mile-and-a-quarter race was 2:02.66 and was the largest margin of victory since Assault's eight-length success in 1946.

Mine That Bird, a Kentucky-bred gelding, paid US$103.20, US$54 and US$25.80 for a US$2 ticket, becoming the biggest upset winner since Donerail won the 1913 Derby as a 91-1 longshot.

"The horse had never been in the mud at all until he got here," said Mine That Bird trainer Chip Woolley, sporting a black cowboy hat and dark sunglasses while using crutches because of a motorcycle accident.

"When you watched the horse train over this track, it was like he was born to run here, when it was dry. And when it was wet, he even looked better.

"The horse really stepped over the top of it. You could see horses struggling out there and he never took a step that it looked like a struggle to him."

Bought as a yearling for just US$9,500, Mine That Bird prepared for the race by finishing a modest fourth in the US$800,000 Sunland Derby.

Pioneerof the Nile paid US$8.40 and US$6.40, while third-place finisher, Musket Man, returned US$12.

"I thought I was sitting on a winner when turning for home," said Pioneerof the Nile's jockey Garrett Gomez. "The horse on the rail (Mine That Bird) was a flash."

Louisiana Derby winner Friesan Fire, the race favorite, finished 18th in the 19-horse field. Florida Derby runner-up Dunkirk, the second choice in wagering, placed 11th.

"He got a bad start and got hit," said Friesan Fire jockey Gabriel Saez. "I felt that he didn't want to go so I let him relax and finish the race. I didn't want to hurt the horse.

"I just dropped the reins and let him gallop."

Pioneerof the Nile trainer Bob Baffert tipped his hat to Mine That Bird, saying, "Those cowboys, they came with a good horse."

There was disappointment for connections of morning line favorite I Want Revenge who was scratched because of a minor ankle injury.


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