Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Birdbird and Castellano A Threat In The OBS Sunshine Millions Turf

Birdbird, drew post position five for Saturday's $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park. The field includes Icy Atlantic who placed in this race last year and Bill Mott has entered a pair of minor stakes winners, War Monger and Pickapocket.

Birdbird is coming off a close sixth place finish in the seven and a half furlong Pete Axthelm at Calder on December 29. The Pure Prize colt breezed four furlongs on Monday at Gulfstream in 48.40 with Castellano up and all concerned feel that Birdird will be a threat at the mile and an eighth distance of the Millions.

Kenny McPeek told the Blood Horse:

“He’s doing very well and had some significant time off with this race in mind,” trainer Ken McPeek said of Birdbirdistheword’s break, which lasted from May until a sixth-place run in Pete Axthelm Stakes at Calder Dec. 29. “This is a restricted race with a lot of money on the table and he’s doing well enough to try, but he still has something to prove as an older horse. If he gets it done Saturday, we’ll go from there, but if not we’ll take a step back and take a more conservative route.”

Javier Castellano will ride and break from post five.

Birdbird is a graduate of the August 2005 OBS sale where Ray Cottrell Sr acquired the son of Pure Prize out of Berchta for $32,000. Birdbird has gone on to earn $716,987.

Update: Birdbird's little half-sister Lady Lido (Lido Palace) brought a bid of $14,000 at this month's OBS sale.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Sunshine Millions Is Next For Birdbirdistheword

Birdbird closed nicely but belatedly to finish sixth in Pete Axthelm on Saturday, Javier Castellano kept him in the back of the twelve horse field behind a fast but honest pace. Birdbird was beaten only two and a half lengths in his first race in eight months.

Team Bird was pleased with the effort and Birdbird will be seen next in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at a mile and an eighth on January 26 at Gulfstream Park. Nominees for the race include old turf warrior Revved Up who nosed out Soldier's Dancer at Calder last out, Lava Man who won the race last year at Santa Anita, Icy Atlantic and Go Between who finished second and third to Lava Man last year.

All In The Family:

Thanks to Valerie over at Foolish Pleasure for pointing this out.

A half sister to Birdbird will be offered at the OBS January Sale.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Prince Arch: A Tough Act To Follow But Birdbird's Going to Try

Birdbird's owner Ray Cottrell Sr. is no stranger to the top echelon in racing.

A few years ago he owned a colt named, Prince Arch (Arch - Princess Kris, by Kris) who won the 2005 Gulfstream Park Handicap (now the Gulfstream Park Turf Stakes G1)and even traveled to Dubai for the Sheema Classic that year, In his three year old year the Prince took the Saranac at Saratoga (pictured above) and took down champion Kitten's Joy in the Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs. Prince Arch also placed in the Virginia Derby and the Crown Royal American Turf, he is now at stud in Ireland.

Ray and Kenny McPeek have a similar goal in mind for his 2006 Delta Jackpot (G3) winner, Birdbirdistheword when the colt returns to the races this Saturday, eight months after being diagnosed with an injured left rear suspensory ligament which took the colt off the Derby trail in April.

Ray Cottrell Sr and Birdbird

Birdbird (8-3-0-0 $702,000) returns to the races in the grassy Pete Axthelm , named for the famed sportswriter, on the closing weekend at Calder. In his last published work last week, Birdbird worked 5f at Gulfstream in 1:00.00 handily,the best of 26 workouts at the distance.

Team Bird is looking for a top effort in a race that features some of best local three year olds in South Florida like Drums of Thunder who is also on the comeback trail and Craftmanship.

Of course I doubt if Drums of Thunder has his own ring tone.

So watch out, Birdbird is back and his main goal is the Gulfstream Turf Handicap (G1) on February 23rd.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Plans for Birdbird's comeback race have changed just a bit. It was hoped he would be ready to make his comeback at Delta Downs in the Sam's Town but the colt will need more time before he's ready. Team Bird is now targeting the the Pete Axthelm Stakes at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf at Calder on December 29 for Birdbird's return.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Team Bird Takes Aim at the Delta Downs Stakes Program

Ray Cottrell Sr., Kenny McPeek and Larry Green have set their sights on taking down some of the major stakes at Delta Downs this fall.

Stable star and comeback kid, Birdbirdistheword has been nominated for the Sam's Town on the Delta Jackpot under card on December 7. A good effort in the Sam's Town would set Birdbird up nicely for his four-year old campaign in the handicap division, that campaign would most likely commence at Gulfstream Park.

Meanwhile two of Team Bird's promising two-year olds, Sgt. Major Command and First Lady Glenna (named for Kentucky's First Lady) are being targeted for two-year old stakes at Delta Downs.

Sgt. Major Command's next start will be on November 9 in the one mile Jean Lafitte which is the local prep for the $1,000,000 Delta Jackpot. Birdbird won the Delta Jackpot (G3) last year. A win or second place finish in the Jackpot leaves you in good shape in graded earnings needed to get into the gate at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.

Nominees for the Jean Lafitte include recent Churchill Downs allowance winner Betatron, local hero Big Al's Mandraar who has won two of his four starts by more than 10 lengths, Birdonawire winner Carson's Legacy, undefeated Texas-bred Ferdinard's Flyer, Mikimoto's Mojo who won the Lafayette Stakes at Evangeline and Kentucky Cup Juvenile winner Texas Fever.

First Lady Glenna who was a solid second in her first start at Keeneland on October 17 is nominated to the My Trusty Cat along with solid contenders like Syriana's Song who broke her maiden at Saratoga and then finished sixth in the Matron (G2) at Belmont Park, local heroine Miss Missle a winner of four of her eight starts and Arlington Washington Lassie (G3) victor Dreaming of Liz, stablemate of champion Dreaming of Anna.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Birdbird To Breeze

Update: Birdbird breezed three furlongs in a snappy 37 1/5 Saturday at Keeneland as he prepares to resume his racing career later in the year.

Tentative plans call for Birdbird to return to the races at Delta Downs on December 7 in the $75,000 Sam's Town at seven furlongs. The Sam's Town is being run the same night as the Delta Jackpot which Birdbird won last year.

Birdbird's stablemate, Sgt. Major Command won the first at Keeneland yesterday, a maiden $50,000 claimer drawing off by five lengths and in doing so validated the confidence his connections have in him. The colt ran greenly in his first start at Kentucky Downs and while his next race is undecided, Team Bird is eyeing the Delta Jackpot for Sgt. Major Command.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Birdbirdistheword Returns to Training

Sidelined since May with a suspensory injury, Ray Cottrell Sr's Delta Jackpot winner Birdbirdisword has returned to training at Ken McPeek's Magdelena Farm in Lexington Kentucky. Tentative plans call for Birdbird to return to the races in early December at Delta Downs, the scene of his most lucrative and commanding performance when he won the $1,000,000 2006 Delta Jackpot Stakes.

As you may know I had a great time following Birdbird on the Kentucky Derby trail last spring and was a guest of Team Bird at the Fairgrounds for the Louisiana Derby. Derby fever never really subsides if you love this game and Team Bird has another promising two-year old colt named Command SGT Major who is training up to his first race under the tutelage of Ken McPeek who thinks the colt shows some real promise.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Doctor's Orders

Dr. Bramlett has determined that Birdbird has injured his left rear suspensory in one of his recent races. This kind of injury can be very difficult to diagnose and probably played a role in Birdbird's poor showings in both the Florida Derby and Crown Royal American Turf. You can learn more about suspensory injuries here including an article by the the TBA's own Fran Jurga over at Hoof Care who has written on this topic here. Birdbird will get 60 days off at that time Dr. Bramlett will reexamine him. Under normal conditions Birdbird could return to training in about 90 days but Team Bird have decided to give him at least 120 days off and return to training in the fall and plan for an exciting four-year old campaign for Birdbird.

The colt will convalesce at Kenny McPeek's Magdelena Farm in Lexington and Team Bird wants to thank everybody for all their support and we'll see Birdbird back at the races when he is fully recovered.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Birdbird Out with Undetermined Injury

Apparently Birdbirdistheword injured himself during the running of the Crown Royal American on Kentucky Oaks day. Birdbird was closing on the outside coming into the stretch when he lost his action and started acting like he could not get his air. He was scoped after the race but it came back clean. On Saturday the colt was in obvious discomfort when walking. A back injury of some sort is suspected and Birdbird has been shipped to the Lexington clinic of Dr. Bramblett for a complete examination.

When more is known about Birdbird’s condition I will let you know.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Bird Is Back !

Birdbird makes his return to the turf and takes on some of the best three-year turf runners in the country on Friday in the Grade 3 Crown Royal American turf. Birdbird will van to Churchill on Thursday from Keeneland where he’s been training. The field includes Irish import, Whatsthescript who is undefeated stateside and Marcavelly who won his last start at Keeneland, the grassy Transylvania. The Bird will be sporting blinkers for the his return and Team Bird feels Birdbird make a good account of himself on Friday

Monday, April 23, 2007

Birdbird On Track For The Crown Royal American Turf

Birdbird worked five furlongs at Keeneland in :59 2/5 in preparation for his next start in the Crown Royal American Turf on May 4 at Churchill Downs. Irish import, Whatsthescript, a winner of three turf stakes in the last six months is also being pointed for the Crown Royal American Turf.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bye Bye Birdie . . . For Now

The Bloodhorse is reporting that betting on Birdbird in the Derby Future Pools has been suspended. Birdbird s currently seventh on the graded earnings list. As late as this week Birdbird's connections were considering a return to the Derby Trail with a start in the Blue Grass stakes. After much thought they decided against it. Current plans call for Birdbird to return to competition in the Crown Royal American Turf on May 4th.

It's been a great thrill for me to follow Birdbird on the Derby trail and I look forward to seeing him on the turf this coming summer.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Birdbird Bled In The Florida Derby

Birdbird’s connections are reporting that Birdbird bled while finishing seventh in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream on Saturday. The colt usually runs with lasix. Otherwise Birdbird came out of the race in good condition but the timing of this setback makes a start in the Kentucky Derby a more remote possibility at the moment. Birdbird was flown to Keeneland yesterday arriving in Lexington in early afternoon.

If Birdbird does not start in the Kentucky Derby, he may return to the turf for his next start. Birdbird has already won on the turf (winning the Harrahs Juvenile in September at Louisiana Downs). The Crown Royal American Turf on Kentucky Oaks day is now under consideration, the 1-1/16 mile race is a grade three. Should Birdbird make a good account of himself in the Crown Royal, a return to the Triple Crown trail is very much a possibility and a start in the Preakness is a definite possibility.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

BirdBird Fits in the Florida Derby

Trainer Ken McPeek explained the reasoning behind his decision to run Raymond Cottrell's Birdbirdistheword in the Florida Derby rather than Lawrence Carroll’s Bold Start as originally planned: “I just think the way the race sets up, ‘Birdbird’ will be a better fit,” said McPeek Wednesday morning. “It looks like there is plenty of speed in there and ‘Birdbird’ will be closing. They are both doing equally well. We’ll just switch Bold Start off to the Illinois Derby (gr. II) a week later (Apr. 7 at Hawthorne Park)."

1. Notional Robbie Albarado, 4-1
2. Imawildandcrazyguy Rafael Bejarano, 15-1
3. Scat Daddy Edgar Prado, 5-2
4. Adore the Gold Cornelio Velasquez, 6-1
5. Stormello Victor Espinoza, 3-1
6. Chelokee Ramon Dominguez, 8-1
7. Boogie Boggs Joe Bravo, 8-1
8. Johannesburg Star Rajiv Maragh, 30-1
9. Birdbirdistheword Manoel Cruz, 12-1

Kenny Smells a Speed Duel . . .

Tactics are everything and regular readers of Birdbirdblog know that Kenny McPeek has been considering all the options for Birdbird's next start. As of only a few days ago Birdbird's connections were leaning toward the Illinois Derby but at the last moment Kenny has decided that the Florida Derby sets up well for the colt. Birdbird does his best running when there is an honest pace up front. The presence of both Stormello and Adore the Gold in Saturday's Florida Derby should guarantee that honest pace. The field will also include Scat Daddy and Michael Matz' promising newcomer Chelokee among others and with Robby Albarado commited to ride Notional, Manny Cruz, who currently ranks eighth in the jockey standing at Gulfstream, gets the mount on Birdbird.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mr. Popularity And The Derby Shuffle

Robby Albarado has ridden some pretty good horses in his career, among them Mineshaft, Banshee Breeze and Chulukki, and Albarado’s services are always in demand. 2007 is no different, Albarado is off to another strong start this year, he currently ranks fourth in the nation in money won. Albarado also finds himself in the enviable position of having to juggle mounts on three possible Derby starters. With Cory Nakatani in Dubai to ride Lava Man in the Dubai Duty Free on March 31; Albarado gets the mount on Notional in the Florida Derby. It appears that Albarado has committed to ride Curlin in his next start, the Arkansas Derby on Aprii 14.

Albarado’s popularity presents some unforeseen logistical challenges for Ken McPeek and the connections of Birdbirdistheword. The colt was being pointed for the Blue Grass which will also be run on April 14 but if they do they run in the Blue Grass they will have have to find another rider or wait for Albarado to free up and aim for another prep race. Add to the mix that the Blue Grass is coming up as a super tough race with Street Sense, Great Hunter, Any Given Saturday and possibly Circular Quay all aiming for it. One has to think about what benefit would be gained by going up against the top colts on April 14 and then going up against them again (and a field of 20) in the Derby three weeks later. So right now Team Bird is mulling over the advantages of waiting for Albarado to free up and aiming Birdbird for the Illinois Derby on April 7 at Hawthorne, where he would meet among others Cobalt Blue recent winner of the San Felipe.

Birdbird will have his last breeze at Palm Meadows this morning and will ship to Kentucky to train for a probable start in the Illinois Derby in the next day or two.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

On Second Thought . . .

Birdbird returned to the track this morning for the first time since his fifth place finish in the Louisiana Derby, galloping a mile and a half at the Palm Meadows training facility which has been his winter home since December. One thing Team Bird learned from the Louisiana Derby was that training and running over the track was a distinct advantage at Fair Grounds as the first four finishers all had a race over the track. Taking that into account, owner Ray Cottrell, Sr. and trainer Ken McPeek have reconsidered the Florida Derby as Birdbird's next start. They have decided to revert back to Plan A, which was to ship the colt to Keeneland for the Toyota Blue Grass (G1) on April 14th. Birdbird last ran at Keeneland in the Lane's End Futurity last October where he was a credible fourth to the likes of Great Hunter and Street Sense (he was scoped after the race and was disagnosed with a lung infection). Birdbird will work five furlongs later in the week and then ship to Keeneland to train for his date in the Blue Grass.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Birdbird's Next Start: The Florida Derby

Birdbird is feeling fine after his fifth place finish in the Louisiana Derby and he's back at Palm Meadows where trainer Kenny McPeek plans to crank him up for his next start in the Florida Derby on March 31st. Kenny has decided not to wait five weeks until the Blue Grass to run again and Birdbird will take on all comers in three weeks at Gulfstream. Stay tuned for all the details.

Birdbird closed at 43-1 in the second futures pool for the Kentucky Derby.

Team Bird would like to thank all the people who posted comments on the blog; they really appreciate all your support!!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pink People

Belinda Sims (Ken McPeek's stable manager) nicknamed us "Pink People" I guess these photographs prove her to be correct.

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Tommy and DeeDee Kessinger, Brenda Cottrell Tyree (holding our mascot), Lovell Cottrell, Karen Cottrell and Ray Cottrell Jr.

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Lucy and Randy Edwards, the breeders of Birdbird.

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My main man, Larry Green who assists Ray Cottrell Sr. with his racing operations and a hell of a nice guy!

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And me, John Maguire (AKA the website guy) with our mascot

The Bernie Flint Interview

Honest to God I just asked Bernie Flint who he liked in the Louisiana Derby. Bernie was hoping Kenny would win so he could use the money for a much needed operation.

Riders Up For The Louisiana Derby

McPeek and Albarado

Team Bird Shows Up In Force

Six or Seven Lengths Is All We Need ~ Ken McPeek

After the race Team Birdbird gathered at a monitor near the paddock to watch the replay, Kenny like the rest of us was disappointed, we had all been hoping for a win or a top three finish, Birdbird was fifth beaten just over seven lengths. Robby Albarado reported that Birdbird was struggling with the surface throughout the race, for a horse coming off a 97 day layoff, I think we can say he needed the race. In defeat Birdbird joins some illustrious company, don't forget that both Funny Cide(who lost to Peace Rules) and War Emblem did not like the Fair Grounds surface either.

Can Birdbird improve off this effort; can he move up six or seven lengths, I think he can. Keep the faith Birdbird fans!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Victory Belongs to the Most Persevering

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little disppointed. I'll have lots more photos and video from the Louisiana Derby up on the site after I get home to my broadband connection; blogging with a dial up connection is not easy.

Birdbird Gallops At Fairgrounds

This is video taken the day before the Louisiana Derby.

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Take a good look Todd Pletcher! This is what Circular Quay will be looking at this afternoon!

All kidding aside, Team Bird is confident Birdbird will make a good account of himself this afternoon and the rest of the racing world will see what the people who read this blog already know. This is a special horse!

Friday, March 9, 2007

Birdbird And The Comedian

Sunrise at the Fairgrounds, March 9,2007.

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The star of the show, Birdbirdistheword ready to go out on the track. Birdbird galloped over the Fairgrounds track this morning at @830 AM after the renovation break. He went about a mile and a half, I think (I forgot to ask). I have some video of the gallop that I will post as soon as I can.

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Birdbird and his groom Roberto

Bird is stabled with Bernie Flint's horses. He shipped up just fine from Palm Meadows and looks great. I met Bernie Flint this morning and let me tell you he is one funny guy. I have some video of him talking about who will win the Derby tomorrow and it is great stuff (that I will post as soon as I can).

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Bernie Flint, Larry Green(of Team Bird) and Ken McPeek

Bobby Barnett is also stabled in this barn. This is a cat in Bobby Barnett's barn who was wondering what I am doing in his office.

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Jenna McPeek takes a spin around the barn on Bernie Flint's peppermint-loving stable pony, Buck

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Belinda Sims, Ken McPeek's stable manager. Belinda helped nurse Congaree back to health when he was a very sick foal, you could say Belinda has a way with horses.

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Birdbird Notes #3

I am off to see Birdbird this morning. He is scheduled to gallop @8:00AM. I hope to get some photos from this morning's visit up on the site later today. There are two major stories on Birdbird today in the Bloodhorse and the Form. Looks like the press is really starting to notice BIrdbird, he is getting his fair share of ink these days. In one story, Kenny describes Birdbird as a Maserati: so I guess I am off to see the Maserati!

If you haven't voted in the Louisiana Derby poll on the side bar, please do. The Birdbird fans are out in force as Birdbird has a substantial lead in the poll.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Room For One More. . . At Least !

The Courier Journal has a story on Birdbird's owner, Ray Cottrell Sr.

Hopes are high here at Birdbirdblog that Ray will be collecting another trophy in New Orleans this Saturday afternoon.

Hurry Up Roberto, I Got A Plane To Catch!

Birdbird and Roberto will be up extra early today so they can catch a 7AM flight bound for New Orleans where Birdbird returns to competition in the Louisiana Derby. Birdbird had his final breeze yesterday at Palm Meadows, going four furlongs in .48 and galloping out five furlongs in 1:00. Afterwards he was scoped and everything came back clean; all systems are GO for the Derby Trail.

Trainer Ken McPeek will be participating in an NTRA conference call today. Birdbird has been added as a separate betting interest at 18-1 in Pool 2 of the Derby Futures Pool. has Birdbird at 50-1 on their site. Birdbird got some ink in a Bloodhorse article too.

Meanwhile, Birdbirdistheword, trained by Kenneth McPeek, will go up against the recently impressive colt Imawildandcrazyguy in the March 10 Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds.

According to McPeek, his contender "has been a piece of cake--he's a very special horse. The most difficult thing has been the people calling to buy him." McPeek said he has received several offers for the strapping dark bay son of Pure Prize in recent weeks.

"He's easy to handle, a total pro," continued McPeek, who saddled Birdbirdistheword for three victories last year, including the $1 million Boyd Gaming's Delta Jackpot (gr. III) at Delta Downs. The Louisiana Derby will mark the colt's 2007 debut.

"Since (the Delta Jackpot), he's done everything perfectly and on schedule," said McPeek.

With the pressure off his back of getting enough graded stakes earnings for Birdbirdistheword's ticket to the Run for the Roses, the trainer said, "I can take my time and develop the horse. We were able to back off and gave him 30 days off (after the Delta Jackpot). Now we've got a nice little work pattern set up."

McPeek said he was even impressed with Birdbirdistheword's fourth-place effort in the Breeders' Futurity (gr. I) at Keeneland last fall, considering the colt had been scoped for a lung infection after the race.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Birdbird Wins the Harrah's Juvenile

I finally found a video of Birdbird's win in the Harrah's Juvenile on the turf at Louisiana Downs. Birdbird swallows the competition with a sweeping move at the 1/2 mile pole, the same move he made weeks later in the Delta Jackpot. This horse has what the Europeans call " a turn of foot" and versatility on both dirt and turf that minds me of Barbaro.

Thanks to Travis Stone of the Daily Dispatch for posting this video.

Birdbird at 6-1 in the Louisiana Derby Morning Line

A field of eight were entered today in the 94th Louisiana Derby.
It's funny that Birdbird a two-time stakes winner with over $700,000 in earnings gets mentioned in this press release after non-stakes winners like Liquidity and Iamawildandcrazyguy. Birdbird deserves a little more respect than that!

Louisiana Derby (gr. II), $600,000, Fair Grounds, March 10, 3-year-olds, 1 1/16 miles, approx. post 5:43 p.m. ET

PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey

1. Circular Quay, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 122, 9-5
2. Ketchikan, Al Stall Jr., Larry Melancon, 122, 8-1
3. Slew’s Tizzy, Gregory Fox, Julien Leparoux, 122, 15-1
4. Birdbirdistheword, Kenneth McPeek, Robby Albarado, 122, 6-1
5. Liquidity, Doug O’Neill, Corey Nakatani, 122, 7-2
6. Zanjero, Steve Asmussen, Garrett Gomez, 122, 4-1
7. Soaring By, Todd Pletcher, Edgar Prado, 122, 8-1
8. Imawildandcrazyguy, William Kaplan, Fernando Jara, 122, 10-1

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Birdbird The Movie

My friend and fellow blogger David Rubin over at Your Average Horseplayer accompanied me last month when I visited Birdbird at Palm Meadows. David just posted his video on Youtube and it has lots of Birdbird footage plus a conversation with Kenny McPeek and lots of other details of a morning at Palm Meadows.

My thanks to Peter of for this shot of Birdbird in the walking ring at Keeneland just before the Breeders Futurity.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Birdbird Among 115 Nominated for 94th Louisiana Derby

Birdbirdistheword makes his long awaited return to the Derby trail on March 10th. It is likely a full field of 14 will contest the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds. Tentative plans call for Birdbird to ship to Fair Grounds from Palm Meadows about five days ahead of the race and the colt may work over the track in New Orleans.

Steve Haskin mentions Birdbird today in his weekly update, reporting on his three recent works, details of which are listed on the sidebar of this blog.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Birdbird Speaks !

It's almost 10 AM and Birdbird has been cooled out, snacked on some hay and is back in his stall staring at me, staring at him. It's time to go but before I say goodbye, Birdbird and I have a little heart to heart.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Funny You Should Mention That

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Heading back to the barn after the gallop Kenny makes a point to mention that Birdbird is stabled in the same barn that Funny Cide was four years ago. I hadn’t noticed a plaque that is on the barn wall commemorating this obviously the significance of this is not lost on him. As we drive back to the the barn I get a chance to ask him a question or two. McPeek is obviously a top tier trainer and I always wondered if he solicits owners to get business. He said he doesn’t have to but one problem he faces more these days is that owners in general seem to be more skeptical and talking them into spending money at the sales is more of an effort. I also asked if he thought that the breed as a whole is more fragile than it was say twenty years ago, his answer to this question was an unequivocal no. McPeek thinks the modern tendency to train up to races, rather than race up to them, in order for trainers to maintain higher winning percentages, makes for fewer starts and gives a false impression that the breed is more delicate than it really is.

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Back at the barn, as Birdbird gets his bath I get a chance to ask some mundane questions about running the place. Behind the scenes an administrative staff of nine keeps McPeek Racing running in addition to asst trainers, grooms hotwalkers and exercise riders. One thing I did notice is that a computer was nowhere to be found.

There are three horses racing today and they must be ready for the shuttle van to Gulfstream by 9 AM. Kenny goes off to tend to those details, Birdbird is cooling out, Brad goes in search of a light for his cigarette, David goes in search of Invasor, who he has heard is stabled nearby and I wander next store to Barn 6 to meet another prominent three year named Street Sense

Friday, February 16, 2007

Kenny's Bright Spot

One of the brightest spots in Kenny McPeek’s life these days is stabled in a corner stall at Palm Meadows with a view, his name is Birdbirdistheword. . McPeek has trained some very good three-year olds during his career but rumor around the barn is that Kenny thinks Birdbird is as good or better than all of them. Better than Harlan’s Holiday? Sarava proved that Kenny McPeek doesn’t really care what other people think; he knows what he knows.

Why isn’t Birdbird getting more respect from the racing press? In Kenny’s mind Birdbird is a victim of what you might call “the Midwest bias” Every year it’s the big colts on the East and West coast that get all the attention and colts like Birdbird, whose biggest career win was the Delta Jackpot (G3) at Delta Downs, are thought to be second tier but his graded stakes earnings are definitely not second tier and it’s those earnings that guarantee Birdbird a berth at Churchill .

It’s Thursday morning and dawn is still a few minutes away; Kenny’s bright spot is happily gazing out of his stall watching his groom Roberto doing his morning chores. Roberto smiles easily but speaks little English but language is no barrier here, Birdbird knows the drill and looks just plain bored as Roberto prepares him for his morning gallop.

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Down at the other end of the barn, Kenny’s day hasn’t started so well, three execise riders haven’t showed up yet and schedules may need to be shuffled. Attention to detail is the name of the game and no detail is overlooked from a loose bandage to a loose bowel movement.

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Kenny’s assistant Jesse Caudill minds the details as Birdbird is saddled and walked around the barn to stretch his legs.

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Birdibird is the big horse in this barn and his training takes priority; these days he works every six days. A few minutes later, Birdbird heads to the track for a gallop and a couple of groggy bloggers who are not used to being up at this hour follow behind.

Breakfast of Champions

I made a visit to Palm Meadows yesterday morning to meet Birdbirdistheword and his trainer Kenny McPeek and the Birdbird crew. Kenny and his entire staff went out of their way to accommodate us(David Rubin of Your Average Horse Player and Brad Edwards of Brad Buys a Yearling came along with me to visit).

Birdbird is a very kind horse who didn't mind us interupting his day. I have some video of Birdbird galloping and a rare interview with Birdbird himself. So please stay tuned for some interesting posts and videos here on Birdbirdblog.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Birdbird Notes # 2

Dick Downey profiles Birdbird on his site today.

In an email to me Dick mentioned how Birdbird is not a separate betting interest in the futures pools. Considering his graded earnings (he's #2) it seems like an oversight. An oversight that Birdbird will attend to shortly I am sure !!

Sunday, February 4, 2007

A Military Tradition Carries On

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Like so many other aspects of military tradition, the origins of the challenge coin is a matter of much debate, the most commonly held view is that the tradition began in the United States Army Air Service (a forerunner of the current United States Air Force) during World War I. As the legend goes,a wealthy lieutenant, ordered small, solid-bronze medallions (or coins) struck, which he then presented to the other pilots in his squadron as mementos of their service together.

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Ray Cottrell Sr. and Larry Green are both retired from the Army and one day after Birdbird won the Delta Jackpot they were talking about how impressed they were with the treatment they received at Delta Downs and that they wanted to give a small token of their appreciation to those that had treated them so well so Larry suggested having a coin made as a special thank you for a job well done. It is both Ray and Larry's hope that this custom becomes a tradition in the thoroughbred industry too.

I am happy to say that I have been given a Birdbird coin and I want to thank Ray and everyone on Team Bird for their thoughtfulness, they are a wonderful group of people!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

There Was Something About Alan

Lucy and Randy Edwards (pictured here with Bertcha dam of Birdbirdistheword) are the breeders of Birdbirdistheword.

Birdbird did not always have such a long name. When being raised on the Edward's farm, which they call The Gambol, he was called Alan. The Gambol and sits on 17 1/2 acres about 20 miles northwest of Ocala and 5 miles south of Williston, Florida.

Lucy and Randy Edwards both work full-time jobs, Randy at Ocala Breeders Sales (OBS) while Lucy is a medical technologist with Florida's Blood Centers in Ocala. They have no employees and the work at The Gambol is split with Randy feeding in the morning and Lucy in the afternoon. When the foals arrive, they work together to handle them every evening. During breeding season their vet accommodates their schedules by coming early before Randy goes to work at OBS. A very dependable neighbor takes the mares to be bred.

Alan (center) and Bertcha (right)

The Edwards have eleven mares, up from nine last year as they bought two in October. One has foaled and there are eight more to go. They sold five foals in the October OBS sale and have just two yearling colts aimed for the August sale. They still own (with Sharon Biamonte) Berchta's two-year-old by Drewman who is going to OBS' April 2YO sale. Sharon preps and sells all their horses. While the amount of work isn't great (except when a horse(s) is sick or injured) it is relentless and tends to keep them home most of the time. When they travel, a another very dependable neighbor helps out.

The Edwards were kind enough to answer a few questions posed by Larry Green of Team Bird about themselves and life with Alan.

Q: Where did the nickname Alan come from?

A: The first thing that came to mind was Alan. Because he was so mild mannered and such a smart guy. Randy said: He seemed very intelligent and so the name.

Q: Did Alan stand out as a baby?

A: He really did stand out on the farm. He was long legged, graceful and moved so well.

Q: Was Alan independent or did he stay by his mares side?

A:: He was fairly independent and very inquisitive.

Q: How many horses do you have?

A: 11 broodmares.

Q: How long have you been in the horse business?

A: We bought 1/3 interest in a broodmare at the sale in 1996. Then in 1997 I bought some property and it took a while to clear it off. In 1999 we started buying our own brood mares.

Q: How did you pick Pure Prize to breed your mare to?

A: We bought the Berchta already in foal.

Q: What made you pick this mare?

A: We always look for mares that have raced and won or who are closely related to them. Berchta was a bonus as she was full sister to a G3 winner. I really did not know much about Pure Prize until I researched him prior to the sale and I really was impressed by his breeding. So we really felt that we had something special even before Alan was born. And Berchta was the only mare in the sale in foal to Pure Prize.

Q: Do you still own Berchta?

A: Yes. She is currently in foal to Lido Palace and is due any day now.

Q: What are your future plans with Berchta?

A: We definitely plan to breed her back to Pure Prize.

Q: Who are your all time favorite race horses?

A: Definitely Birdbirdistheword and I would say Secretariat.

Q: Do you race horses?

A: No we do not but may in the near future.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Birdbird Notes # 1

Birdbird is in the news here and there, here's a recap of the last few days.

Birdbird, was assigned 114 lbs on 2006 Experimental Free Handicap (Barbaro was also assigned 114 last year, so Birdbird is in good company) 13 less than Street Sense.

Kenny McPeek was interviewed by Mike Welsch of the Form, here 's a link to the article.

The Racing Dispatch released it's weekly poll and Birdbird ranked # 11 (the 1 next to a horse's names indicates one of the voters placed him at the top of their list. Will that voter please contact Birdbirdblog, we'd like to talk to you !!).

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

One Hundred Days

Any journey begins with one step and spectacular achievements almost always begin with unspectacular preparation. From Arcadia, California to the Fairgrounds in New Orleans to Palm Meadows in Florida, a few horsemen wake up in the morning with a promising three-year old in the barn and a dream in their hearts.

One hundred days to go.

Kenny McPeek has dreamed this dream before; in 1995 Tejano Run almost made the dream came true. A few years later Deputy Warlock, Harlan's Holiday and Repent came along but each time the dream slipped away.

It's been seven weeks since the Delta Jackpot and Birdbird is getting a little restless. He's been galloping under tack six days a week for the last three weeks; he's filled out and is full of himself but a little bit of boredom has set in. It's time to do more. And so this Saturday, Birdbird takes that first step on the journey to Louisville. The preparations begin as Birdbird gets down to work with a three furlong breeze under exercise rider, Alberto Balbuena at Palm Meadows.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Daddy's Mistress Wins The Birdbird Purse

Daddy's Mistress, coming off a five month layoff wins the $36,000 Birdbirdistheword Purse at Delta Downs on Saturday night for B and G Stable, trainer Scott Tubbs and jockey Jeffrey Burningham.

Larry Green of Team Bird presents Kentucky Colonel Commissions to Kathy Vice, Delta Down's racing liasion and Chris Warren, racing manager(accepting on his own behalf and that of Mr Boyd, owner of Delta Downs).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Delta Downs Names Race In Birdbird's Honor

Delta Downs has carded the sixth race on Saturday January 20th as the Birdbirdistheword Purse, a seven furlong $36,000 allowance for Louisiana-bred three-year olds. Larry Green of Team Bird will be presenting Birdbirdistheword hats to the connections of the winner.

Larry will also be presenting Kentucky Colonel Commissions, the highest honor awarded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to individuals in recognition of noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service. These commissions will be presented to Delta Downs owner, Mr. Boyd and Mr. Warren and Ms. Vice of Delta Downs. After his visit in December, Birdbird's owner, Ray Cottrell, Sr. was so impressed with the hospitality and professional treatment he received while at Delta Downs that he mentioned it to Governor Fletcher of Kentucky and the Governor felt that these special individuals are great ambassadors to the thoroughbred horse racing industry and that they are truly serving the racing industry in an exemplary manner.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Ain't Knocking At The Door; I'm Kicking It Down

Steve Haskin of Bloodhorse published the first of his Derby lists today and Boyd Gaming’s Delta Jackpot (gr. III) winner Birdbirdistheword, trained by Kenny McPeek, is knocking at the door according to Steve. We here at Birdbirdblog think that Steve needs to give his list more thought!

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A Once In A Lifetime Horse: You Gotta Love Him

Owner Ray Cottrell Sr. plants one on Birdbirdistheword in his stall at Delta Downs.

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Birdbirdistheword is now stabled at Palm Meadows in Florida where he can be seen modeling his Jackpot blanket with his groom, Roberto Abambriz

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Team Bird Celebrates Winning The Jackpot

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Here are a few members of Team Bird on the evening of his big win in the $1,000,000 Delta Jackpot. From the left: Mark Green, Toby Keith and Larry Green. Toby Keith's, Go Pappa Fooze was the early pacesetter in the Jackpot, Toby also owned Cactus Ridge, winner of the 2003 Arlington Washington Futurity.

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From the left: Brenda Cottrell Tyree, Toby Keith and Karen Cottrell.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Third Time's A Charm

Could it be 2004 all over again?

Roy Chapman was a self made man who along with his wife Pat owned a chain of Ford Dealerships in the Philadelphia area. Over the years they had enjoyed modest success in racing but early in 2004 a modestly bred colt whose name was Smarty Jones took them on a fantastic journey.

Fast forward to 2007 and another self-made man named Ray Cottrell Sr.

A Vietnam vet, Ray retired after twenty four years in the Army and opened an used car lot in Brandenburg, Kentucky a small city 46 miles southwest of Louisville on the Ohio river. As the years went by this business grew and he now owns a Ford/Mercury/Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealership in Brandenburg where he lives with his wife Lovell, they have two children, Ray Jr. and Brenda Ray.

Ray has been down the Derby trail before, in 1990 he entered Fighting Fantasy who got into early traffic problems (with Unbridled and Pleasant Tap) and finished 15th. The following year, he entered Wilder Than Ever who was forced to steady after the start and finished 15th. Both colts were trained by John Churchman Jr. Since that time he has raced mostly in the claiming ranks with success and was leading owner at Ellis Park on more than one occasion. In 2005 Prince Arch gave him his biggest score to date when he won 2005 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G1).

They say the third time's a charm and to the Chinese three is a lucky number and so Ray's third entrant in the 133rd Kentucky Derby will be Birdbirdistheword who will be making his third start of the year (hmmm, more threes) , a modestly-bred, Pure Prize colt with a very long name. The name came out of Ray's experience in Vietnam where helicopters, used to carry troops in and out of combat zones, were referred to as birds. In honor of those brave pilots and crews Ray named the colt, Birdbirdistheword. Purchased for $32,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sale in August 2005. Birdbirdistheword more than returned his purchase price when he thundered down the stretch at Delta Downs to win the $1,000,000 Delta Jackpot Stakes (G3).

Now Ray and Team Bird are about to embark on a fantastic journey so few get to take, his third trip down the Kentucky Derby trail. Ray and Team Bird have been kind enough to let me follow along for next few months of their lives. In the weeks ahead we will document the ordinary and extraordinary events in the life of Birdbirdistheword and Team Bird.

The following is our interview with Ray Cottrell Sr.

Q. When and how did you become involved in horse racing?

A. In 1986 I made a visit to the backside of Churchill Downs and met with Dr. Hartell and purchased my first race horse for $6,000. His name was Mobile Express and in his next race I ran him in an allowance race and he won. So I more then got my money back with that horse.

Q. How many horses do you have in training?

A. Currently 11

Q. What are your plans for Birdbirdistheword's spring campaign?

A. Louisiana Derby in March then on to the Toyota Bluegrass at Keeneland, then we will go from there.

Q. Targeting the Delta Jackpot was a wise strategic move since winning there provided you with more than enough graded earnings to get into the gate at the Derby. Does having the graded earnings change your approach to a spring campaign?

A. Yes. Now we can kind of hold back and not push and over train or over run this fantastic horse.

Q. Now that Birdbirdistheword is a graded stakes winner and Derby contender are you being approached about selling him or selling an interest in him?

A. Yes, I have had several people and organizations contact me but I have not accepted any offers.

Q. You have known Kenny McPeek, who trains the colt, for over 20 years. Tell us about your working relationship with Kenny?

A. I am a very active owner and am in contact with Kenny daily. My relationship with Kenny is more like that of a father and son. He is a great person who cares deeply about the welfare of all horses under his charge. This is very important to me.

Q. What other trainers do you admire or work with?

A. Paul McGee, Helen Pitts, Steve Flint. My first trainer years ago was John Churchman.

Q. Did you select Birdbirdistheword yourself or were you advised with your purchase?

A. Kenny McPeek selected him on my behalf. He has a fantastic eye for good horses.

Q. What are you looking for when you buy a racing prospect?

A. Best horse for the money.

Q. What stallions interest you as a buyer?

A. Prince Arch, Pure Prize and Arch

Q. Are you a handicapper?

A. Amateur at best.

Q. What is your approach to betting?

A. I normally only bet on my own horses.

Q. What would winning the Kentucky Derby mean to you?

A. The ultimate reward in thoroughbred horse racing.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Running On Heart

The Breeders Futurity (video) a Grade 1, Birdbirdistheword takes on the big boys, Great Hunter, Circular Quay and Street Sense. A game effort, unknown to Team Bird was that Birdbird had a lung infection; scoped by a vet right after that race, Birdbird had ten feet of mucus taken out of him. He ran that race with a lung infection and the vet said that he only ran at 70%.

This infection caused owner Ray Cottrell to choose to skip the Breeders Cup to insure that he was over the infection. A few weeks later and healthy again Birdbird showed what he could do in the Delta Jackpot, Grade 3. The winners share of $600,000 assures Birdbird a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby.

Looks Like A Million Bucks

Courtesy of Delta Downs News

Raymond H. Cottrell, Sr.'s 2-year-old colt BIRDBIRDISTHEWORD, used a big move on the far turn to take the lead and eventually win Boyd Gaming's $1 Million Delta Jackpot Stakes (Gr. 3) on Friday night at Delta Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel.

Under veteran rider and Louisiana native Robby Albarado, BIRDBIRDISTHEWORD, was bumped leaving the starting gate before settling near the back of the 10-horse field in the early stages of the 1 1/16-mile showdown. When Albarado decided it was time to launch a rally, he called on his mount to go after the leaders, which he proceeded to do in style . Within a few short strides Birdbirdistheword inhaled the front runners four wide with an Arazi-type move that advanced him from ninth to first turning for home. In the stretch the outcome was never in doubt, although a late rally by Pirates Deputy placed him within three quarters of a length of the winner at the finish line.