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Derby's All Mine

Squeezed back as the field left the stalls and way off the pace early on, Mine That Bird -- under a rail-skimming ride from Calvin Borel -- ran past a rubber-legged field in the stretch to take a muddy renewal of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) by 6 3/4 lengths.

The $9,500 yearling -- the least expensive in the race -- Mine That Bird was Canada's 2008 champion 2-year-old, the first winner of that honor to take the Derby since Sunny's Halo in 1983. Although his pedigree is not especially fashionable, it's actually full of classic influences. In his male line we have Derby winners Unbridled and Grindstone; and Mine That Bird's sire Birdstone (TrueNicks,SRO), who upset Smarty Jones (TrueNicks,SRO) to capture the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Grindstone's own dam, Buzz My Bell, is by Drone (also broodmare sire of Kentucky Derby winner Charismatic), and his second dam is by Derby winner Chateaugay.

When we look at Mine That Bird's dam, the unraced Mining My Own, we see that she is by Smart Strike (TrueNicks,SRO) out of a mare by Vice Regent, a cross that has previously produced Canadian Oaks victress Eye of the Sphynx, and is very similar to the cross that produced Curlin (by Smart Strike out of a mare by Vice Regent's son Deputy Minister).

The Vice Regent mare in question here, Aspenelle, didn't win a stakes, but was second in Canadian Oaks. Aspenelle is half-sister to Joy's Countess, the dam of the Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes winner and Kentucky Breeders' Cup (gr. III) third Blackjack Boy. Mine That Bird's third dam, Little to Do, won the Seaway Stakes and Selene Stakes. The most recent top-class horse to emerge from this female line was Ambassador of Luck, heroine of the 1983 renewal of the Maskette Stakes (gr. I). She was out of a half-sister to Marge's Request, the fifth dam of Mine That Bird.

Mine That Bird (who was TrueNicks rated A++ prior to his Derby win),  is a member of the first crop of Birdstone, who in addition to his Belmont Stakes victory, also won the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at 2, and the Travers (gr. I) at 3. In December, we first drew attention to the promising -- but generally unheralded -- start Birdstone was making:  Freshmen Unbridled.

Mine That Bird is one of four stakes winners from Birdstone's first crop, the others including Summer Bird, who finished sixth in the Derby. He's also responsible for Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) runner-up Stone Legacy (out of a mare by Gulch, and like Mine That Bird a Birdstone/Mr. Prospector cross).

In addition to the fact that Mine That Bird's sire and broodmare sire are from the Mr. Prospector line, both his sire and his dam are out of mares by sons of Northern Dancer, so he's the product of parallel Mr. Prospector/Northern Dancer crosses.

From an historic perspective, it's also interestng that he also has Kentucky Derby winner Swaps (grandsire of Grindstone's second dam) combined with two crosses of his sister Track Medal (both in Mining My Own's dam), and three crosses of champion Nashua, the horse Swaps surprised in the 1955 Run for the Roses.

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