Bred in U.S. but made in Canada

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Though he wasn't born north of the border, Mine That Bird, the unlikely Kentucky Derby champion, was an almost all-Canadian hero.

He was originally owned and developed by Woodbine trainer David Cotey and wouldn't have even qualified for the race had he not been a stakes winner in Toronto.

One of the partners in the group that bred the pint-sized performer was Toronto's Peter Lamantia.

And until jockey Calvin Borel became available and agreed to ride the Sovereign Award winner as Canada's top two-year-old, the connections seriously were considering giving Saturday's Derby mount to Woodbine regular, Chantal Sutherland.

Sutherland rode the gelding for four of his two-year-old races, including three consecutive stakes wins at Woodbine and a last-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park this past November. As talented as she is and as much success as she has had with Mine That Bird, Sutherland would have had difficulty matching the winning ride of Borel.

Known as Calvin Bo-Rail for his fearless preference for taking the inside track in races, Borel provided a masterful steer through the muddy Churchill Downs stretch. The ride was remarkably similar to the one he provided for Street Sense in winning the 2007 Derby.

Mine That Bird was pinched to the back at the start and was a full six lengths behind the 18th-place horse a quarter-mile into the race. But Borel asked his horse to start moving on the final turn and got plenty of response.

The key move came as Borel approached the eighth pole and threaded him between two runners by the skin of their flesh.

"I had enough room, " Borel said. "He's a small horse."

Prior to Saturday's Derby win, Mine That Bird had never won a race away from Woodbine. The big win did put the spotlight on Woodbine, however.

Prominent U.S. racing publication Thoroughred Times ran this headline on its main Derby story: Canadian champion wins American classic.


Videos

Photos