Last Friday, Frank Mitchell had a chance to inspect Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird at Churchill Downs. Aside from blogging at bloodstock in the bluegrass, Frank measures horses for DataTrack International (Bob Fierro, president).
Frank said: “Over the past 10 years of evaluating and measuring horses, I’ve developed a good sense of the mechanics of how horses function. Among the immediate impressions one gets from looking at Mine That Bird is how similar he is to his sire, Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone. Both horses are nicely balanced, medium sized-horses, with Mine That Bird standing a tad shorter than 15.3. As a 3-year-old, Birdstone was about the same height, and now he’s about 16 hands. Don’t forget, Mine That Bird is a May foal.”
Frank said he was surprised to find Mine That Bird was more on the muscle than he expected: “I was expecting to see a sleepier horse, but I found he had a considerable amount of nervous energy to him. Very alert and engaged.” This, Frank and I agreed, was why he probably needed cover in his races — something trainer Chip Woolley has stated several times. Mine That Bird got it and was produced beautifully in the Derby, but in each subsequent Triple Crown start he got less early cover. In fact, in the Belmont he was left uncovered on the outside from a far ways out and then was asked way too early.
“From how he’s constructed, Mine That Bird looks like he has a lot of power,” Frank said. “He’s not a heavily muscled horse — in fact he’s lightly made — and you wouldn’t expect him to be a sprinter with this type of body, but he appears to have the kind of hind leg that would allow him to have a tremendous amount of leverage for propelling himself once he’s into stride — and that’s what he showed in the Derby.”
Frank estimated the gelding weighed about 900 pounds. “He has medium bone, a good, honest eye, and is a neatly made horse. He’s quite narrow in front — still at 3 — and he turns out in both front legs, but he rotates out all the way down — he’s not crooked. He walks through well, and has a nice stretchy walk to him, although he doesn’t have a humongous stride. You can see why he would have been penalized in a sale as a yearling — being a May foal, small, probably much narrower then, and turning out. Look what those buyers missed!”
The following information, by the way, is not from Frank Mitchell. The latest I’ve heard is that Mine That Bird’s owners rejected a $2 million offer for half the horse.