Mine That Bird Still Flies in Kentucky

“If I can get a cowboy to cry, I’m in good shape.”

Jim Wilson, director of ’50-1,’ on audience reaction in the Southwest to the new movie on Mine That Bird’s upset Kentucky Derby win

Like most every other racing fan, I have a story about Mine That Bird’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) victory at odds of 50-1.

Before the 2009 Derby, I was standing with my friend and then fellow turf writer Pete Denk watching the post parade, when I turned to him and said I thought that of all the horses Mine That Bird looked the best on the track. Then I added something along the lines of, “Shame he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance …”

After not walking 50 feet to put even $2 on Mine That Bird, I remember scrambling through my program to see what horse was rallying to victory along the rail. Of course it was Mine That Bird.

Everyone loves a longshot story and fans swapped their best memories of Mine That Bird’s improbable Derby score on Friday, April 18 at Keenland where cast members of a new movie about the horse, “50-1,” and some of the horse’s connections, gathered at the Lexington track. They signed autographs for more than an hour while Mine That Bird, looking like he still could compete if allowed on the track, paraded in the paddock.

Cast and connections signed autographs - Keeneland Photo

and Mine That Bird paraded the paddock - Keeneland Photo

looking ready for action - Keeneland Photo

Director Jim Wilson, an Oscar winner and Thoroughbred owner, thinks people will identify with the underdog story and the overall good humor of the movie.

“It’s got a lot of heart, right from the beginning,” Wilson said. “It’s an inspiring tale and it does tell that story that the ‘everyman can.’

“We’ve seen it with the audience; we’ve been lucky enough to go into some of the theaters. We’ve seen them applaud and cry. If I can get a cowboy to cry, I’m in good shape.”

Without a huge budget for promotion, the cast launched a seven-state tour five weeks ago in New Mexico and made its way to Kentucky theaters this weekend. The hope is word of mouth will help propel the movie that stars Skeet Ulrich, who also made the trip to Keeneland.

Ulrich portrays trainer Chip Woolley, who also made the trip to Keeneland Friday.

“I was pretty reserved on it until I saw the movie and I was actually happy with it,” Woolley said. “Now it’s starting to be enjoyable.”

Wilson said the tour has been exciting, meeting fans while visiting Churchill Downs and the Derby Museum on April 17 and Keeneland on April 18.

“I won’t say some horse racing movies are pretentious but we’ve all seen what I call “golden halo” movies. We don’t take ourselves seriously and we have a lot of fun,” Wilson said.

Raising a glass for Mine That Bird and "50-1" - Anne M. Eberhardt Photo


Leave a Comment:


Borel on a closer! That was what I saw that day, but I didn't bet him. This year Borel is on a closer and I predict that he'll run 2nd or 3rd... - RAMMER

18 Apr 2014 5:43 PM

Mine That Bird looks simply gorgeous! I love this little horse. His Derby run was incredible and those who dis

him are so petty. It is so good of his owners to keep him in the public eye so that the fans can see him and see how he's doing.

18 Apr 2014 10:19 PM

Too bad we can't look into their minds, because that's where the track ended for little "Bird". I never believed he was a fluke or that he was just lucky. Mine that Bird had more to give, he just decided at some point, not to. To this day, I hold him dear to my heart and consider his derby win to be one of the best ever. A spectacular run for the roses.

18 Apr 2014 11:11 PM

Loved it! Was blown away that it was a packed house in my neck of the woods (Memphis, TN suburb), and everyone clapped at the end!  The only thing I wish they had done was buy more of the post-race footage so we could watch that overhead replay a couple more times, and in slow-mo with the commentary by Gary Stevens and Laffit Pincay.  Poor Tom Durkin.  In an interview, he was asked if there was a race he wishes he could do over, and he said it was the 2009 Derby!  There is another version of the race out there by the regular local race caller.

19 Apr 2014 1:37 AM
Alisa Harrington

I'm a barrel racer and would love to see if Mine That Bird would make a barrel horse. The size he is I think he would be nice. I can't wait to see the movie and wise all his connection luck in the future.

19 Apr 2014 5:53 PM

What a warm wonderful horse!

Saw him in the Belmont

Jus love Mine That Bird :)

19 Apr 2014 6:51 PM
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20 Apr 2014 10:18 AM
Mike Relva

A shame and disgrace many gave MTB no respect and worse after his run. Always defended him. Some that's slammed him know nothing about racing in general. Saw the movie last nite,enjoyed it.

20 Apr 2014 12:08 PM

Where and when can I see the movie?  I love Mine That Bird!  I'm in Virginia,not Kentucky.  Will the movie be released nationwide?

20 Apr 2014 3:52 PM
Mike Relva


Live in Tn currently.  Hopefully the movie will be in your city.

20 Apr 2014 4:44 PM
Ida Lee

I saw MTB at the KD Horse Museum last Summer. To be able to see, touch and spend time with a KD winner is a thrill of a lifetime. And this particular Pretty Boy is so special. He put on a show I'll never forget. He took a running fit with his mane and tail flying in the air...so beautiful. Then he played with all his huge toys...throwing balls into the air...and then he did this little dance. He was so adorable. I was able to pet his pretty head and silky nose. What a thrill!!!

20 Apr 2014 6:35 PM
Birks Goldens

Hope it will come to Madison, CT.  I'm working on it as I can't wait to see it!

21 Apr 2014 6:18 PM
ben's magic

Nice to see a feature on Mine that Bird. I'm sad to say that my trainer had the chance to buy him at the auction but chose to buy his half brother instead for twice the money. I named him Ben's Magic and he was a wonderful horse, but had breathing issues and a foot problem. I took him away from the track and after a year of looking, found him a beautiful home close the Edmonton, Alberta.He is a gentle horse and the owners 4 year old daughter rides him most days. They say he walks like a show horse and has a beautiful chestnut color.

23 Apr 2014 3:35 PM
Donna Heim

Fell in love with him when I first saw him at Sunland Park and watched anxiously as he won the Derby.  He was no fluke and came mighty close to catching Rachel Alexandra.

01 May 2014 2:35 AM

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