On Saturday, July 13, I drove up to Ruidoso Downs to see Mine That Bird. The track appearance was to celebrate his Kentucky Derby victory 10 years ago! The previous evening Bird was inducted into the Ruidoso Racehorse Hall of Fame. Bird was making an appearance on behalf of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund to raise funds for this worthy cause. While Bird is a gelding and can’t produce offspring, he still is out there raising money for charities such as Wounded Warriors, the PDJF, cancer charities, etc.
I donated to the Permanently Disabled Jockey Fund again…this time I got poster but we also go our pictures taken with Bird! I could have gotten a cap but went for the poster since I don’t wear hats, but now I have to find a place for this poster…it is HUGE!!
Three years ago in May, I went up to Roswell to meet Bird at the Double Eagle Ranch. At that time, my friend and I celebrated Bird’s birthday with a card, carrots, and singing “Happy Birthday.” Dr. Blach, his co-owner and vet, gave us a tour of his office full of memorabilia including the blanket of roses that was draped on Bird’s whithers. At the track, I reconnected with Dr. Blach, and also met co-owner Mark Allen for the first time.
Bird looks INCREDIBLE, almost better than when I saw him 3 years ago in May. He is now 13 years old! He was so patient, standing for 1 1/2 hours to have pictures taken. I got some great ones as I hung around. I got to stroke his nose and look into his eyes and talk sweetly to him. I am in LOVE! Many people came very long distances, out of state to stay a few days just to meet him!
Then I had my poster signed (Mark actually did include my name and started to sing GLORIA, that old song spelling it out!)
Dr. B was wearing his Derby ring so I was able to take a picture of that close-up. Nice chunk of gold, there!
Dr. B also did a little Q and A ….I found out that Bird eats rolled oats 2x a day and alfalfa for roughage. He is no longer going out for trail rides; he is just hanging out with a small pony for company. He said that most of the events in the movie “50 to 1” were actually true…the problem with getting the license, the pre-race party…hanging in the tap room because they were basically ignored…He did talk about how jockey Calvin Borel really hit that rail (I have recently seen a photo showing the paint dust flying off!) and he said that while Calvin spotted the hole, it is true that Bird, who is VERY SMART, picked up on it and knew exactly what to do!
Between races 5 and 6, Bird and Mark Allen paraded to the cheers of the big crowd.
Then, he exited the track to go home to Roswell, about 2 hours away….
As I was waiting to meet Bird again, I had a nice chat with a trainer who looked exactly like a cowboy…grizzled face, black hat, with a slow drawl. He was there to run his 8-year-old mare named No Mires a La Luna ( Translation: Do Not Look at the Moon) who came in second in race 2) and he said he considers his horses to be his babies. When they are born, he immediately hugs them close and from then on, they have little fear. He said after they retire, they become cattle horses….they are quarter horses, built for that sort of thing!
The first races were quarter horse trial races (440 yards) which were then followed by thoroughbred races of 5 or 5.5 furlongs …..a great combination for a fun day!
Here at Ruidoso Downs, our lead ponies definitely do not look like what you see at Churchill Downs or Ascot!
But we do have glorious scenery and delightful weather, about 20 degrees cooler than where I live 3,000 feet lower in the desert…
It’s a 226 mile round trip up to Ruidoso from my house, but it’s a gorgeous ride up from the desert floor up into the cool mountains. Can’t wait to go up again!