Kentucky Derby

Betz as surprised as anyone by win

Bill Betz has been breeding Thoroughbreds for 25 years and has bred a lot of nice ones, including El Corredor, Roman Ruler and Dubai Escapade.

Before Saturday, he wouldn't have put Mine That Bird in the same category as those horses. In fact, he was so sure the bay gelding didn't have a chance that he didn't even bother to leave his farm on Mount Horeb Pike to make the trip to Louisville.

"That shows what I know," Betz said, shortly after Mine That Bird pulled off the second biggest upset in Kentucky Derby history. "We're all in shock over here."

Betz, who bred the horse in partnership with James Blackburn and Peter Lamantia, said he's been surprised so many times the other way, when he had what he thought was a great horse who didn't make the grade.

"To have one like this, it defies all logic, and to have been so far behind at the beginning ... I was thinking I hope this doesn't turn out to be too embarrassing."

Betz has liked the horse's breeding since he came up with it. The sire, Birdstone, won the Belmont in an upset over Triple Crown contender Smarty Jones. The grandsire, Grindstone, won the Derby in 1996, and the dam, Mining My Own, was by Smart Strike, leading sire in 2007 and 2008.

"I didn't think his breeding would stop him," Betz said. "I just didn't think he was a good enough horse."

Mine That Bird was part of Birdstone's first crop of foals. His stud fee was only $10,000, which isn't much compared to many stallions around Lexington.

Mine That Bird "was a nice-moving, athletic horse, but a brown yearling by a stallion who stood for $10,000," Betz said.

Since Mine That Bird was born, Betz's partner, Phil Needham, retired and took Mining My Own with him. So it's not clear whether Mine That Bird will have any full brothers or sisters any time soon.

One thing is certain: Birdstone, who stands at Gaines-way Farm, will now have a stud fee that's higher than $10,000.

Betz isn't sure whether his life or business will change much.

"You have to take your wins and losses the same way," he said. "It shows how bizarre this game is — there are people doing this their whole lives, and nobody really knows what's going to happen."

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