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

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