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Super Bird: Birdbirdistheword wins Grade III race

Super Bird: Birdbirdistheword wins Grade III race
Super Bird: Birdbirdistheword wins Grade III race
Birdbirdistheword, driven by Robby Albarado, puts the finishing touches on Friday's win in the Grade III Boyd's Gaming Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisana. (Photo by Jack Coady / Coady Photography)

The showroom of Ray’s Ford in Brandenburg features three high-powered Mustangs ‘ one is red, one is black, and the other is old gold.
But the talk of the town isn’t those ponies. It’s a two year old model that doesn’t run on gas, and is just boasts just one horsepower.
Raymond H. Cottrell Sr., who owns both the Ford dealership and the two-year-old colt known as Birdbirdistheword, was fielding congratulatory phone calls from across the country after his horse won Friday night’s Grade III, $1 million Boyd Gaming’s Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana.
Overcoming a couple of bumps at the start of the 1-1/16-mile race, and a late charge by race-favorite Pirates Deputy, Birdbirdistheword made a powerful, four-wide move around the final turn to win the Delta Jackpot, which is the richest race in Louisiana and the first graded stakes race held at the track. He won in 1:45.42 on a fast track. The effort paid $12.80, $6.20 and $5.
Entering the first turn, Cottrell’s colt trailed leader Go Poppa Fooze (owned by DreamWalker Farms and country music icon Toby Keith) by 12 lengths. With Malt Magic ‘ trained by Bob Baffert ‘ on his hooves, Fooze churned out a 22.1 for the opening quarter and :45 flat for the half mile. Birdbirdistheword was ninth at the quarter and half poles and sixth at the three-quarter pole before making the move of the race and winning by three-quarters of a length over Pirates Deputy (another Baffert horse).
‘I’ve been in racing for 20 years and that’s the strongest move I’ve ever seen from a horse,’ Cottrell said. ‘The jockey asked him to go and he went.
‘I was nervous three weeks before the race and I was nervous at the start and I was nervous at the mile pole. The only time I wasn’t nervous was when he crossed the line in first. It was a great run.’
The Dark Bay or Brown colt is by Pure Prize, out of Rocky Mountain mare Berchta. He was foaled Feb. 7, 2004, in Florida, and was purchased as a yearling in Keeneland that September for $32,000.
‘My trainer, Ken McPeek, has an art of picking out good horses and he had a feeling about that horse,’ Cottrell said.
Cottrell described the way he came up with the horse’s interesting name: ‘When I was in ‘nam, the choppers would come and pick us up and we’d call them choppers, ‘Birds,” Cottrell said. ‘The name just stuck.’
Birdbirdistheword is trained by Kenneth G. McPeek and was driven in the race by Robby Albarado. Albarado was the unexpected recipient of a smooch by one of Cottrell’s close friends, Douglas ‘Moose’ Archibald, who couldn’t contain his excitement in the winner’s circle.
Archibald was part of the Rat Patrol with Cottrell when the two were in Vietnam.
‘We’d lost touch with each other for a number of years and about three years ago we found each other,’ Cottrell said. ‘He’s a good guy. I don’t know if (Albarado) was expecting that kiss. That was something else.’
It was the third win in Birdbirdistheword’s five-race career, which also includes victories at Arlington (one mile) and Louisiana Downs (one mile turf).
The win Friday was worth $600,000, and because it was a graded race, makes Birdbirdistheword one of the top two-year-olds in the country in graded earnings. The win in the $100,000 Juvenile at Louisiana Downs was also a graded race. Total earnings for Birdbirdistheword is a lumpy $702,100, already making the young star eligible for the Kentucky Derby. That is, if he decides to hang onto the horse.
‘I’ve already got a call from someone wanting to buy 75 percent of him for $1.2 million,’ Cottrell said. ‘Right now, I’m all covered up with calls and everything else, and I’m not really sure what I’m going to do. I’ll give it a week or two to think about it, once all of this settles down. It really is overwhelming.’
As for the big race in May?
‘(Birdbirdistheword) is down in Florida right now, under security and is doing really well, the trainer told me. He’s in great shape. Again, we’ll just let all of this blow over a little bit and make a decision when there’s not so much going on. We want to enjoy this a little bit.’
In addition to the big win, Cottrell and his posse met up with country crooner Toby Keith, and the two became instant friends. Keith is a pitch man for Ford, and frequently honors the military.
‘He was as genuine as could be. We got our pictures taken with him and everything and got to spend a lot of time with him. Once he found out I had a Ford dealership and was in the Army, why I think that did something for him,’ Cottrell said. ‘He sent his security away and spent time with us. It was really special. He said he’d like to stop by here and visit sometime, too.
‘He’s a really nice, laid back kind of guy. It was an honor meeting him.’