Calvin Borel chose to ride Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness over the Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, a move I've never seen a jockey do on the way to the Triple Crown. He guaranteed that the filly would beat the boys because he said she was the greatest horse he had ever been on. Mine That Bird had been given no chance in the Derby based on the fact that he ran most of his races at relatively lesser tracks, which usually means lesser competition. But just like some athletes in other sports, this athlete was special. When I looked at his past performances, I figured this horse had no chance of winning the Derby, and after he won, I still say he had no chance. Then I looked at something I forgot to check. His pedigree, meaning his parents, This truly can be a big factor when it comes to horse racing, as breding is a big part of the game.
His father was Birdstone, who defeated Smarty Jones in the Belmont Stakes denying him the Triple Crown after finishing eighth in the Derby. Birdstone's daddy was Grindstone, the winner of the 1996 Derby, and his daddy was Unbridled, who won the Derby in 1990. This is the only clue that this horse could have actually been for real and not a fluke, so I kept this in mind when I watched the Preakness Stakes last weekend. I became more skeptical when Borel got off of him to ride the filly and Mike Smith was given the mount. But Mine That Bird proved to be no fluke as he almost caught Rachel.Alexandra. Some say that Mine That Bird needed that extra distance to catch Rachel, I say he needed Borel. Mike Smith was looking to put him on the rail coming down the stretch, but the rail was closed and Smith didn't have the patience to wait for the opening that eventually came, slightly checked the horse as he swung him to the outside, losing just enough of the momentum that would have won him the race.
Now Borel has to wait to see if Rachel wiil run in the longest of the three races. If not, he may go back to Mine That Bird. Bird's owners may not wait for Borel to decide and may name another rider, like the nation's best Garrett Gomez whose Derby and Preakness horse is not running. To some this may not seem lke a big deal, but one of the rules of betting is"when the horses appear equal, bet on the jockey." I'll comment more when this issue is resolved.