When The Odds Are Against You, Remember Mine That Bird
This upcoming Saturday is the 144th running of horse racing’s most famous event – the Kentucky Derby. Even for the most casual of fans, the tradition, and pomp of Churchill Downs, combined with the thrill of the “greatest two minutes in sports” make for a must-watch event.
The power of sports is their ability to transcend a score-keeping, win-loss construct to become a true inspiration for our lives. In 2009, the Kentucky Derby offered just such a moment. That year, on a muddy, sloppy track, a little-known horse, running at long odds to win, made a last-to-first dash into the history books.
When that horse, Mine That Bird, (keep your eye on #8 in the video), stormed across the finish, it gave all of us a powerful reminder to think about each time we step to the starting gate.
Sometimes you have to ignore the odds
In every race, there are the favorites and there are longshots. And at 50-to-1, Mine That Bird was sized up as a very long shot to win. But it’s important to remember that every horse in this race – the Kentucky Derby – was there for a reason. They were all that season’s top 3-year-olds and had qualified to be in that race. Mine That Bird’s team didn’t forget that and neither should we as we compete and strive for success each day of our lives. True, there can only be a few favorites, but we’ve all proven we deserve to be in the race.
Don’t let a bad start hold you back
One of the most amazing aspects of Mine That Bird’s win was just how poorly it began. At the very start, the horse got bumped and then squeezed between two others, forcing it to the absolute back of the 20-horse field. It was the kind of start that would leave many of us calling it a day, giving in to the ground that would have to be made up. Mine That Bird, however, flipped that script showing us all the importance of not giving up.
Pick a strategy and stick to it
Guiding Mine That Bird on that first Saturday in May was the now-legendary jockey, Calvin Borel. Sizing up the poor start, Borel, who had just won the Kentucky Derby two years earlier on Street Sense, took the horse immediately to the rail to shorten the overall run. It was a bold, in-the-moment strategic decision that would make all the difference. Borel kept the horse on the inside and started charging to gain ground just as the other horses tired along on the backstretch and at the close.
To make this worst-to-first tale even more incredible, when Mine That Bird passed the final pole, he was 6 ¾ lengths ahead. It was the longest margin of victory at the Kentucky Derby in more than 60 years!
So, on those days when all you see are the 19 horses ahead of you, remember you can still win. Sometimes the tough start reveals the true advantage. And, the only odds that matter are those that you put on yourself.
Now get out there and run for the roses!