Derby-winning team in GJ for party, film premiere

Chip Woolley(Skeet Ulrich) has a heart-to-heart talk with Mine That Bird (Sunday Rest).

The Grand Junction area will receive a rare treat on Friday, June 13, when 2009 Kentucky Derby-winning horse Mine That Bird comes to town as part of an entourage scheduled to appear for a special party and Grand Junction premiere of “50 to 1.”

The film, which opens in four Colorado theaters on Friday, June 20, including the Regal Cinemas 14, follows Mine That Bird’s story from longshot to champion and the people behind the scene who made it happen.

Academy Award-winning producer Jim Wilson (“Dances with Wolves”) was co-producer, co-writer and director of “50 to 1” and joins Mine That Bird, actor Todd Lowe (also stars in HBO’s “True Blood”) and horse owner Mark Allen at the local premiere party at 6 p.m. at Allen Unique Autos, 2285 River Road.

Mark Allen is the older brother of Tammy Allen, who owns Allen Unique Autos.

Tammy Allen is known for her love of cars, but Mark Allen grew up around horses.

“Off and on, I’ve been at the race track since I was 13,” he said.

Mark Allen first learned about Mine That Bird in 2008, getting a tip from a friend in Kentucky that Allen needed to fly to Canada to check out this gelding.

Although Allen wanted a thoroughbred filly, he sent trainer Chip Woolley to Canada.

“When (the horse) got out on the track he moved so good and had such a big stride,” Allen said.

Mine That Bird was purchased, and the journey toward winning the Kentucky Derby began.

The film “50 to 1” explores the personalities that made it happen, the work that went into training a champion horse and the unexpected road that took Mine That Bird to Churchill Downs.

Because Mine That Bird is a gelding, a castrated horse, it cannot pull in the lucrative stud fee associated with champion horses, however, Allen said Mine That Bird lives a good live on his ranch in New Mexico.

“He’s pretty much doing whatever he wants,” Allen said. “We probably get 15 to 20 people by here a week to see ‘The Bird.’”

Mine That Bird went on to finish second in the Preakness Stakes and third in the Belmont Stakes, amassing more than $2.2 million in earnings during his career.

The story of an unknown horse paired with its training and New Mexico life, intrigued Wilson to make the film, which was first shown to select audiences in March.

“It turned out to be a heckuva movie,” Allen said. “It’s Hollywood-ed up a bit, but Jim Wilson and the actors have done a heckuva job. You’ll come out feeling good.”

Here’s the schedule for the party for “50 to 1”:

■ 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  — Live music, food, kids’ events and the opportunity to meet Mine That Bird, owner Mark Allen, producer Jim Wilson and actor Todd Lowe.

■ 7:45 p.m. —  Movie starts outdoors so bring lawn chairs for seating. “50 to 1” is rated PG-13.

Cost to attend these events is $20 per person.

■ 10 p.m. — An after-party starts Allen Unique Autos. Mingle with “50 to 1” cast and crew as T. Lowe & Friends, Lowe’s country-rock band, provides entertainment. For those 21 and older only. Admission is $15 per person.

A discounted rate of $30 per person is available for those 21 and older wanting to attend all events.

To purchase tickets, go to or call 263-7410.


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