Triple threat?

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Dave Cotey had no regrets about seeing his former horse hit the jackpot in Saturday's Kentucky Derby other than, perhaps, not slapping $10 across the board on him.

But even that missed opportunity could hardly dull the excitement for the Woodbine trainer the morning after Mine That Bird's monumental upset in the 135th running of the storied race.

The horse that began his career in a maiden claiming race at Woodbine this past July before running off a four-race win streak at the Toronto track hit the jackpot and the pinnacle of his sport Saturday.

At odds of 50-1, Mine That Bird rewarded his New Mexico-based owners and trainer with a $1.4-million US payday.

But Cotey, who as trainer and co-owner sold the gelding for $400,000 after he won the Grey Stakes in October, wasn't playing the "what if" game yesterday.

"If it happened over again, I would do the same thing," Cotey said from his barn at Woodbine where he had a busy morning accepting well wishes from colleagues. "It was the perfect deal. Those people put up a lot of money for a gelding and they deserve to reap a good reward.

"Hopefully, there's lots more to come."

Whether the next opportunity comes at the second jewel of the Triple Crown has yet to be decided, however.

Officials for the Preakness Stakes, which will be run at Baltimore's Pimlico Racecourse on May 16, have yet to get a firm commitment from Mine That Bird's connections.

Apparently they need to recover from the Derby after- party before planning the next one. Trainer Bennie (Chip) Woolley Jr. said yesterday a decision will be made in the next 48 hours on whether he moves on to Maryland or back to his base in New Mexico.

"The Preakness was not on our radar leading up to the Derby but we are absolutely going to look at it," Woolley said on the Churchill Downs backstretch. "We are still trying to grasp what happened (Saturday). First time in the Derby and to win it at 50-1, it is a humbling experience."

Should Mine That Bird miss the Preakness, he would be the first Derby winner to do so since Grindstone, who was injured after winning the 1996 Derby and was retired.

Co-owner Mark Allen hopes to contest the middle jewel but said a big part of the decision will be based on how the gelding's energy level rebounds over the next 48 hours.

"If this horse is doing good, you bet we'll run. But he's going to have to tell us," Allen said.

The connections have been eying the final jewel, the Belmont Stakes, all along. Mine That Bird's sire, Birdstone, won the 2004 Belmont to spoil Smarty Jones' Triple Crown bid.

LIMITED RACES

As for Cotey, he said that besides the price one of the big reasons he sold Mine That Bird is that he is a Kentucky-bred, which precludes him from racing in several stakes races in Canada, including the Queen's Plate.

"If he was a Canadian-bred, he wouldn't have been for sale," Cotey said. "The racing would have been limited for him up here. It made sense for someone else to run the horse in a different place."

Cotey remembered how thorough Woolley was when he came up to Woodbine last fall with the idea of purchasing the gelding.

"He watched him train and he was there when he was X-rayed and when the X-rays were developed," Cotey said. "I guess I've got to develop another one for them now."

In the aftermath of the Derby, not much was made about Mine That Bird's status as a gelding. But he joined 2003 winner Funny Cide as the only altered horses to win the Run for the Roses in the past 80 years.


Photos