After hearing nothing from his "dates" all year but "Don't call me, I'll call you," one of racing's most desirable leading men, who keeps getting dumped like yesterday's trash, should have put an ad in the classifieds:
"Millionaire sports hero with terrific personality who loves to travel and has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated seeks long-term relationship with anyone under 5' 8" and 115-120 pounds who enjoys a good thrill ride and knows how to stay out of trouble. Rewards are limitless. Please direct all responses to Chip Woolley, care of Churchill Downs Racetrack."
So desperate has Mine That Bird been for some kind of commitment, he keeps going back to dates who have already dumped him. Calvin Borel, who ditched him in the Preakness for his favorite gal even after winning the Kentucky Derby on him, was taken back, and then ditched him again after one date for a horse who'd never even won a stakes. Mike Smith, who nearly won the Preakness on him, deserted him in the Belmont Stakes in order to ride a horse (who would finish fourth) in the Charlie Whittingham Handicap on the grass. Now, Smith has been taken back to ride him in two races, even with the knowledge he will dump him again in the Breeders' Cup Classic should his favorite gal run.
The poor guy even had a suitor desert him after only about a half an hour when a top rider's agent realized he had already committed his jockey to ride a filly in the Diana Stakes the same day as the West Virginia Derby. That makes three gals to whom he's had to play second stringer.
So, who will ride Mine That Bird in the BC Classic? Well, it has been reported that none other than Calvin Borel could very well be showing up at his door with flowers and candy yet again for another potential one night stand. Would it come as a surprise if Mine That Bird starts developing an inferiority complex or at the very least begins to feel like a cheap date?
In case no one has noticed, Mine That Bird is one helluva horse, and the jocks should be lined up outside his door like the nannies in "Mary Poppins."
There have been few horses who have run three stronger races in the Triple Crown. Had Mine That Bird gone through the three races in normal fashion, like having the same rider for all three, he would have had a great chance to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner. Even with the rider changes, a rough trip in the Preakness, and being asked to do way too much in the Belmont, he still turned in three exceptional performances.
And has any trainer shown the patience Chip Woolley has? Has any trainer had to put up with what he has in obtaining and keeping a rider...for a horse who turned in one of the most dominating Kentucky Derby wins in history?
As for Mine That Bird, when was the last time we saw a horse as easy-going, accommodating, and professional? He's the little horse that could, much like Afleet Alex. He gets on a van, he gets off a van; he works exactly the way he's supposed to every time; his gallops are a thing of beauty to watch; he gives 100% every race, whether it's on dirt or synthetic; and he'll stand in front of a horde of photographers for 20 minutes without the slightest fuss if you ask him. In fact, that's exactly what he did immediately after arriving at Pimlico following a 12-hour van ride from Louisville. And how many horses spend the morning of the Belmont Stakes licking their trainer's hand nonstop for 10 minutes?
He's been adopted by Canucks, cowboys, and Kentuckians. He's about to be embraced by Mountaineers, and after scaling the Appalachians, he could add the Adirondacks and the San Gabriels before the year is out.
From the time he sold as a yearling to the time he was sold privately as a 2-year-old, his value multiplied 40 times, and has multiplied at least another 10 times since.
This horse should have jockeys fighting over him like jealous suitors. And guess what? Any jockey who does win him over likely will reap the rewards for several years to come. If he stays healthy, there won't be any farewell parties for a quite some time. Come on, guys, we've got a Trigger looking for his Roy Rogers, a Silver looking for his Lone Ranger, a Champion looking for his Gene Autry. Enough of this already; just hop aboard, stay put, and enjoy the ride.