Friday, May 15, 2009

Mine That Bird

I love thoroughbred horse racing. Starting as a 12 year old, I mucked stalls at the local horse trainer for a dollar an hour. While other kids worked the local fast food joint or babysat, I broke horses and learned to train them. All that ended when I went off to college, but I always retain my love for the event. While I’m much too tall to be a professional jockey, racing horses is thrilling even in practice. I retain a vivid memory of riding an Appaloosa down the stretch: the drumming hooves, the rippling flesh, the flecks of sweat flying of the neck. I think it was the first time in my life I experienced power; I unequivocally felt free.

So naturally I was stupidly excited when a horse from New Mexico called “Mine That Bird” won the Kentucky Derby for the first time. The fact he went off at long-shot odds and won a thrilling come from behind victory is proof that the early bird doesn’t always get the worm. His home park, Sunland Park, was not where we raced but any connection would do. I was literally cackling with glee after the race.

That Bird Mine

I won’t lie. Even though I derisively call it “the chicken” it’s just out of envy. In truth getting Reins of the Raven Lord would make me happy as a lark. I think one major reason I went through the Druid Swift Flight Form quest line even though I didn’t have to was so I could mine that bird. Certainly it is true that after the quest line was finished I spent days pestering Looking for Group in order to round up groups of level 80s to run Heroic Sethekk Halls. But this approach turned out to a little birdbrained; I finally figured out that if I spent my time leveling to 80 I could probably solo it.

The reason that I want Reins of the Raven Lord is that I always have had a fascination with brightly colored birds. My favorite birds at the zoo are parrots and toucans. So even though Anzu’s mount can’t fly, I think it’s the most beautiful bird in the game. And I won’t lie. It’s also a bird that is still rare, at least on my server. There is one woman in particular who is always hanging out on her bird in the middle of the Ironforge bridge, proud as a peacock. As soon as I see the bird I know who it is; it’s Laney. Laney the Immortal. And I always say to myself as I ride right through her, that bird mine.

Bird Mine That

Commentators are writing a lot of tripe about this Kentucky Derby victory intended to impress gullible people who know nothing about horse racing. This race was not some type of strange bird; it was a mine-run case. For from being impossible, as the announcer has it, the same jockey used this exact same strategy two years ago when Street Sense came from 19th place to win. In racing parlance the strategy is called “marking time” or sometimes “saving ground”. By keeping the horse back, the jockey keeps him out of harms way and saves his energy for later in the race. In fact, if the horse hugs the rail the entire way, it actually runs a shorter distance than all the other horses. In a sport where races are often decided by a nose or a neck, that’s a huge advantage. Here is another example of the technique, David Wottle uses it perfectly to win the 800m at the 1972 Olympics.

Your guess is a good as mine as to whether Mine that Bird can repeat in the Preakness or even win the Triple Crown. Each race is a unique and difficult event; there’s a reason why no horse has swept the races since 1978. Certainly most people, including myself, just a few weeks ago would have found the idea of a New Mexico horse winning the Triple Crown strictly for the birds. Now people think his owners are sitting on a gold mine.

I wish Mine that Bird all the luck in the world. Wait, actually I don’t. I’m going to need some of that luck myself; I going to get the chicken and I don’t intend to spend forever to mine that bird.


Birdfall said...

I haven't soloed the Raven Lord as a druid, but I find that a tank and heals can duo it.

Kromus said...

That Raven lord Mount is pretty unique. (in model anyway).

yeah, a refernce you could of use was recently in the english grand national, a horse that was quite behind and 100-1 to win, won.

Not quite the perfect example but a good presentation of the succesfull techniques it brings.

My girlfriend wishes she could ride again too, its a magical bond ill never understand unless i do it.

Ixobelle said...

awesome post!

I must admit I have precisely ZERO idea about anything horse racing related, except that I think the girl in the club keiba commercials over here ( is cute : /

Goshon over at Working as Intended had a similar post about the World Series/Baseball, and even though I don't follow that either, the article itself can get the emotion across.

Flawlless said...

Totally doable..

I usually use my cat-trash-gear for it, since I dont need all my hit and expertise on lvl 70ish mobs, and I dont heal the statues, just swipe, maul and berserk-mangle the bird-swarm down.. save the berserk-mangle for the second wave of birds. If you have First Aid, use bandages if you can, I don't have it, so I don't know if you can bandage in combat.

been running anzu about twice a week for four months now, still no birdie.

Elnia said...

@kromus. Yeah, the bind between horse and rider can be special.

@Ixobelle. Awesome, glad you liked it.

@flawlless. Thanks for the link.

FYI. I guess I did take some luck from Mine That Bird. He came in second. A good showing, but once again no Triple Crown.