I would like to take a moment out here to applaud the connections of Mine That Bird. Though he has proven to be as hardy a little gelding as they come, the Bird has had a grueling campaign this year and deserves a break. He has raced continuously since February, only skipping the months of April and July, and ran every single race of the Triple Crown, finishing in the money in each classic race. Though is last start in the West Virginia Derby was less than impressive, the race was a testament as to how the gelding needs to be handled. He may not be multi-dimensional, but when he's asked to roll, he will give you all he's got. You can't diss a horse that shows you that much heart. The news that his connections thought about running him in the Travers after his epiglottis surgery had me very concerned, and I'm very pleased they decided to err on the side of caution for this horse we will hopefully be watching in years to come.
On his way back West, Mine That Bird will be taking a tour of his old stomping grounds at Ruidoso Downs. I wonder if he will happily hop back into his old beaten-up stall with his name taped on a piece of cardboard to the wall? After spending his summer at hallowed Saratoga, where the golden light glinting off a pigeon could make a grown man well up with tears, the Bird will be entering the equivalent of a bottom-level claimer's accomodations. But hey, it's where he came from, it's home, right? Maybe the Bird's inflluence will help nicen up old Ruidoso, maybe his millions can spit and polish up the place a bit. After all, you never know if a successor to the throne could come from that very same stable. It would be a nice gesture, anyway.
While at Ruidoso, Mine That Bird will be leading the post parade of the $2 million All-American Futurity for Quarter Horses. He will be doubtlessly be paraded like a hometown hero, and he deserves no less. "The Little Gelding that Could" should be a children's book, if not a Hollywood movie. Disney would be brainless to pass this story by. In a rags to riches story you couldn't dream up, riding in a trailer across-country from a flyblown track to win America's most prestigious race, the Bird has been on one hell of a ride this year and I look forward to watching the rest of his story unfold.
Mine That Bird hasn't been to Santa Anita since his 12th-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last October. But he will return a different horse, riding on a wave that has taken him to the pinnacle every 3-year-old horse aspires to sail along. By now, his running style has been tested, and his next start should prove a different kind of story compared to his last race there; he may start out at the back of the pack the next time he's looking upon the palm trees and San Gabriel mountains, but he certainly won't finish that way.