Moses and The Bird , 2009 Kentucky Derby Afterthoughts
Known commonly by the working folks along the Churchill Downs back-stretch as Calvin Bo-Rail and routinely referred to as simply "Moses" amongst my own inner circle Calvin Borel became a two time Kentucky Derby winner on Saturday afternoon.
The nickname "Moses" arrived on Derby Day 2007 when Calvin Borel aboard Derby winner Street Sense parted a wall of horses ("the red sea") at the top of the stretch and carried Street Sense to the finish line ahead of a 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin in what would amount to a mild upset.
Yesterday Calvin shocked the world winning the Derby for the second time in three years aboard 50/1 long-shot Mine That Bird. The Bird began the race about twenty length in the rears of race leader Join The Dance but Borel was patient, the veteran Jockey who makes his home-base at Churchill Downs knew where he needed to be and he knew when he need to get there.
Before the final turn for home Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel found themselves on the heals of the leaders but buried behind a wall of horses. Borel shook the diminutive Bird cutting toward the inside rail in an attempt to find a place to run. The combo literally disappeared behind a flat of equine flesh only to re-appear with the rail position and nothing but clear sailing ahead.
At my local OTB the results had many scratching their heads. How could this unproven, under-classed pocket sized version of a race horse have capture horse-racings most prestigious crown?
The answer simply put is "Moses"'
Race Handicappers are quick to capitalize on a tracks racing condition. If only front runners are winning we eliminate the closers, if closers are strong we eliminate the speed. Jockey's are even more capable of exploiting the same track biases and on Saturday afternoon at Churchill the rail was hot and Calvin Borel knew it. Unfortunately in the fury to handicap the massive twenty horse field most gamblers were not open minded enough to have give the Bird a chance.
A friend said to me after the race "they could run the race over again and I still wouldn't bet on him"
So how is it that a horse that was so obviously outclassed managed to capture North America's most elusive Horse Racing Crown? Jockey Calvin Borel said after the race that the credit goes to the magnificent beast (Mine That Bird) however I must disagree. It's clear that Mine That Bird is not the class of this years three-year old crop, in-fact I can guarantee he will never win another race as big as the one he claimed this Saturday (if for no other reason then there is no bigger race then the Kentucky Derby) for me. The thing that sets the Bird apart from the eighteen other horses that contested this years Derby was the fact that his jockey Calvin Borel found the lightning hot rail position just in time to boggy down the home stretch.
"Moses" is hot
On Friday at Churchill Downs the filly (female horse) equivalent to the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks was run with perhaps only a fraction of the fan fair that would accompany the boys race just twenty-four hours latter. The Oaks featured super-filly Rachel Alexandra a horses that many felt belonged in the big race against the boys on Saturday (a filly has not won the Kentucky Derby since Winning Colors 1988) rather then racing an outclassed group of her peers. Calvin Borel had the mount aboard Rachel Alexandra who won the Oaks by over 20 lengths well under an ice cold ride from jockey Borel. Borel barley moved a muscle the entire race only asking his filly to move past the race leader before blowing through the stretch run.
After Rachel Alexandra's runaway performance on Friday afternoon noon it was clear that Calvin Borel would need a miracle to complete the Oaks/Derby double aboard 50/1 long-shot Mine That Bird but really whats another miracle when your nickname is "Moses"
A $2.00 all "Moses" Oak's/Derby Double (to win this wager you must select both the winner of the Kentucky Oak and Kentucky Derby) paid $831.60