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Jenny Kellner is an award-winning journalist and educator who has written about horse racing for more than 20 years. She has been a media specialist with NYRA for the past four years.

Pass The Mints, Please

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I am convinced that Mine That Bird has bad breath.

The poor little gelding can't seem to get a second date.  The Belmont Stakes (The Belmont Stakes!) is just over two weeks away and he still doesn't have a rider.

First, Calvin Borel becomes the first jockey in history to ditch the Kentucky Derby winner to ride another horse in the Preakness. And then you have his replacement,  Mike Smith, who says he has to ride “Madeo” in the “Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap” at “Hollywood Park.”  Come on! As Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito once put it to another jockey, "We're talking about the Belmont Stakes!"

Smith had no problem taking off Madeo in the Arcadia  to ride Stardom Bound in the Ashland on April 4. And, come to think of it, wasn't he supposed to ride Chocolate Candy in the Belmont anyway? But I digress.

My point is, the only solution for trainer Chip Woolley and Mine That Bird’s owners is to find a rider who has no commitments to another three-year-old. A rider with a proven record aboard a come-from-behind horse. A rider who is strong and athletic. A rider who will not be intimidated by the sheer size of Belmont Park.

A rider like ….  Shaquille O'Neal.

Think about it. Phoenix is out of the playoffs. Shaq’s been to Belmont Park. And who can forget his memorable last-to-first performance aboard Chunk of Love in the Vitamin Water Super Bowl commercial? 

I called the Suns to see what they thought.

ME: I'm calling to find out if Shaq might be interested in riding Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes.


ME: Do you know if he has any other commitments that day? Because it's really important that he doesn't.

FIRST SUNS PERSON: Let me give you to someone else.

(transfer to new Suns person)

ME:  Hi, I wanted to find out if Shaq was free on Saturday, June 6, for Mine That Bird in the Belmont Stakes.

SECOND SUNS PERSON: What city is that?

ME: New York.

SECOND SUNS PERSON: He's not available.


Anyone have a breath mint?


Comments :

  • Getz | May 26 2009 09:48 AM

    Toni - I honestly think you should check your prescription. MTB came from dead last, period. Musket Man got a great trip; MTB did not. That was not a significant "bump" in the stretch. Seriously...

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  • toni tyler | May 25 2009 06:05 PM

    Getz, if that were true, then why has there NEVER been a Colt to win from 13? There have been 27-known, who, like MTB (per drf/bris/Breeders Annual,)were the pure 'come from the back' with similar sires/dame connections, yet, could not cover the additional ground or overcome the stretch trafic jams. Also note, watch that race again, MTB really did not come from the total rear in The Preakness, as he did in The Derby. Also note, He 'Bumped' Musket Man = The Colt that should have beat MTB at The Wire, and with another 1/16th would have also caught RA.

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  • Getz | May 24 2009 01:51 PM

    Toni - the 13th post has no significant impact on a horse like Mine That Bird that goes to the back. He just would let everyone clear, then move over to the rail. The five pounds however, means a lot going 1 3/16.

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  • toni tyler | May 23 2009 06:39 PM

    Getz- OK, Then Let MTB run From The 13th Post,,,,

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  • Getz | May 23 2009 01:48 PM

    Toni - "she would have wiped up the track"??? You're kidding right? If MTB carried 5 less pounds and she carried 5 more, he still could have won, even with the mediocre trip. The only thing is, she wouldn't have been second, Musket Man would have been. I'm not sure where she woould have ended up but it wouldn't have been 1-2. People underestimate the weight factor when it's 5 pounds or more over a distance. RTR never would have beat Curlin in the Belmont if they carried the same weight and likewise with RA and MTB. But I tell you what, if they think she's all that, why not offer to carry the same weight? What do they have to loose? They're lucky that's not possible because she might start to look pretty average, especially if she has to handle ANY adverity at all!

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  • Racefan | May 22 2009 02:09 PM

    This brings up the possiblity of, for the first time, a jockey carrying a horse across the finish line!!

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  • toni tyler | May 22 2009 11:46 AM

    SIZZLE- "Her Jockey of Personal Choice." Fotr the very reasons in your argument- evidently You Did Not Read My Post... IE- The reason i call Borel, The Personal RA Jock, is that "He Let's HER Run HER Races HER Way," she dictates pace, direction etc etc....sooooo, you see....we agree...Jockeys should let the horses do the racing and sit still (unless the horse goes to sleep)...That is what Borel did in The Kentucky Oaks...and woke her once in The Preakness. Wonder if "Shaq" can find stirrups big enough for his feet...mmmmm, The Shoe Co. makes more money by inventing an oversized metal stirrup for an oversized saddle, and More Shaq History is made... oh, but at his height, won't his feet be "Brakes" against the Turf?

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  • robin litfin | May 22 2009 08:39 AM

    Funny stuff, my girl!! Just the visual of Shaq in silks makes me chuckle. Maybe we could ask Ben Stein to be his valet, and we could call them "Team Shaq n' Stein". (Based on another very funny commercial!!).

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  • sizzle | May 21 2009 09:55 PM

    So Now Borel is a Personel Jockey@@ You mean he can only ride for RA?? Well what happens when she retires??? Poor Bo-Rail will have to retire too, because if he keeps jumping horses for RA alot of trainers are going to look else where!! I understand RA is used to Borel, but a great horse will win with who ever jockey the owner picks!! There are alot of patience jockey's who understand their horses. Give RA some credit, if Mike Smith had rode her she probably would still had won!! Because what you are saying Toni without Bo-Rail, RA could not have found her way to the Winners circle!!! She is a beautiful filly with alot of guts, just like Mine that Bird is a great little horse with plenty of spirit!! Alot of horses do all the work and the race riders are along for the ride!!! They say it all the time,that they just sit back and the horse knows what to do!!

  • the wrong horse | May 21 2009 07:14 PM

    we need comedy. this is comedy. shaq and the bird. i love it. now that's magic.

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  • toni tyler | May 21 2009 06:42 PM

    It's not 'B-O' but the mere thought of those horses that have not run the 1st 2-legs of The Crown. (& i don't blame Mike.) - SIZZLE - Calvin Has been on Rachel For All of her 3 yr. old Victories... The Filly Never Had A Jockey, who, would Let Her Run HER Race. She had never even been 'hit' by Calvin before The Preakness and Never Needed To Be. Before Bo-Rail (smiles, 'cause he really does prefer riding the rail,) our Young Rachel Alexandra fought with the men who tried to tell her how to race. Borel, let her dictate the pace with which she felt comfortable. So, Calvin Borel IS Rachel Alexandra's Personal Jockey. He would have been able to ride both as was done Derby Weekend. + If Mind That Bird Had been in the horrid 13th Post Position at less weight and Rachel in the 2nd with the 126lbs...She would have wiped up the track, left him in the dust.

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  • Jenny Kellner | May 21 2009 05:04 PM

    There are a lot of talented riders out there, that's for sure! I think once Garrett Gomez makes up his mind about Chocolate Candy, at least some of the pieces will fall in place!

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  • sizzle | May 21 2009 04:40 PM

    Boy that is FUNNY!! Poor mine that bird!! I think Pincay should come out of retirement and show that youngsters that he needs to have some respect for the Derby winner!! I am sure he would not have jumped horses. I losted all respect for Borel for not sticking with Mine that Bird, he says he's a great horse and then rides RA and says she the best horse in the world. Make up your mind Borel!!! Who does he think he is the horse going for the Triple Crown not a Jockey.. I guess the race is all about him!! Alot of people feel that way!!I think Joe Talamo should get the ride!!Since his horse could not ride. I like that kid!!

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  • Getz | May 21 2009 03:54 PM

    Jenny, that's hilarious! Seriously though, why wouldn't they go after Gomez? Even though he's been asked to ride another horse, he won't commit. It's almost like he's waiting to see if he will get asked by the Bird connections. Personally though, I would be all over getting Jeremy Rose. This guy is awesome!! The other day, I rewatched him ride Afleet Alex in the Belmont and it was just so great. First, he takes his time and steers him over to the fence before hitting the first corner, then he sits chilly on him until just before coming out of the final turn. The horse had so much left, he just exploded down the stretch. That's the guy I would want on my horse. Calm, paitent and fearless, as noted in the Preakness when he picked up Alex off of the ground to win going away. To many jockeys panic in the Belmont and move way to early. The race is uncomprimising for those without the breeding or the patience. Good luck Bird!! Although the real lucky one is whoever gets the call from Woolley because I think this little dynamo is sitting on a huge effort.

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