Other Sports

'Bird' owners celebrate at the castle

Mark Allen and Dr. Leonard Blach, co-owners of Mine That Bird, were still high on their Kentucky Derby win as they celebrated Monday night at a party in their honor at the castle on Versailles Road.

"I may never come down," Allen said with a grin.

"I'm trying to," Blach said a little later. "It's just hard to put words to this thing, so unexpected.

"We never dreamed that we'd win this thing."

Allen, Blach and their entourage planned to spend the night at Castle Post and then tour some horse farms and check on some mares they board here on Tuesday.

Blach said he and his wife made a trip to Fayette Mall on Monday afternoon to buy more clothes, because they didn't expect to stay this long when they left New Mexico.

The reception was the idea of Dana Martin, marketing and event coordinator for Castle Post, who said she recently met Ralph Kinder, who works for Allen's Double Eagle Ranch, at Malone's.

When she saw that the ranch had a Derby entry, she placed a bet on him. And when Mine That Bird won, she pulled out Kinder's card and invited him to have a party, gratis.

"He invited people who have touched their lives, Lexingtonians who have been good to them," Martin said. "It is our honor."

Martin said she'd love to make a Derby winners' after-party an annual tradition, "to give Lexington a taste of the Derby, too."

Keith Crupper of Whispering Oaks Farm, who attended, boards Allen's mares and helped connect him with Mine That Bird.

"My life will never be the same," Crupper said, adding that the past few days have been "surreal."

Also among those at the gathering was Judy Needham of Needham Thoroughbreds, which owns Mine That Bird's dam, Mining My Own.

He was the 7-year-old mare's first foal. "We're absolutely thrilled," she said.

She remembers Mine That Bird as a yearling, "a spunky, athletic little horse."

Now, the Needhams are faced with the decision of whether to sell or keep Mining My Own.

There are "a lot of people wanting the mare," said Denise Needham, Judy Needham's daughter-in-law. "She's hot right now. This is the hottest she's ever going to be."

Mine That Bird, meanwhile, is taking it easy at Churchill Downs.

"He's feeling really good, almost like he never ran a race," Blach said. "I would expect his head to be hanging."

He said Mine That Bird will stay at Churchill until three or four days before the Preakness, which runs May 16 at Pimlico Park in Baltimore.

"We know, like the Derby, it will be tough to win," Blach said. "Another race may never set up like that one did."

The Breeders' Cup remains his and Allen's ultimate goal for the horse. But he has already had one great ride.

"Mark and I bought him as a racehorse just to have some fun with," he said.

Related stories from Idaho Statesman