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The Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird brought exhilaration to a quartet of breeders with his victory at Churchill Downs on May 2. One of that group was Kentucky breeder Phil Needham, who for many years operated a boarding, sales, and consignment operation called Needham/Betz Thoroughbreds with Bill Betz.

Needham said that he “is getting out of the partnership and that the partnership mares are at the farm” with Betz. “I own about 10 mares, and the mares I own 100 percent are at Bona Terra Farm,” Needham said. “I stay involved but not running a farm.”

Among the mares Needham still “owns with a partner is Aspenelle,” he said. A 19-year-old Vice Regent mare, Aspenelle is one of those amazing producers who gets one grand-looking foal after another and who has disproportionate success as a commercial producer.

The partners in Aspenelle sold about $2 million worth of yearlings out of the mare over the years, including the highly talented stakes winner Golden Sunray (by Crafty Prospector).

Aspenelle’s second foal, Golden Sunray was her dam’s only stakes winner, but even greater fame has come from the Aspelle’s sixth foal, Mining My Own, a daughter of increasingly influential Mr. Prospector stallion Smart Strike, sire of Horse of the Year Curlin.

Needham said, “I owned a share in Smart Strike and sold it when there was a profit to be made.” From his connection with Smart Strike also came the dam of the Derby winner.

The 8-year-old Mining My Own is from the fourth crop of Smart Strike and is the stallion’s first classic producer. In part, that is the result of Mining My Own being unraced and going directly into production at age four.

Needham said, “Mining My Own was disappointing because she never got to the races but had ability. She would have a couple of good works, then something would happen.”

The Kentucky Derby winner is the mare’s first foal, and her second is a 2-year-old colt by Yonaguska. Barren on a cover to Pure Prize, Mining My Own went through the Keeneland January sale in 2008.

Needham said, “She is this big, roomy mare, and I saw her going through the ring for $7,500. So I bid and was going to take it [the bidding] on but instead got her.” When Needham offered to have the other partners stay in, they indicated they had enough of the family. So he offered a share in the mare to new partner Bena Halecki.

Bred to the Unbridled’s Song stallion Even the Score in 2008, Mining My Own produced a colt by that stallion early this year and is back in foal to leading juvenile and freshman sire Tapit on a single cover.

The combination of the Tapit cover and having a champion Canadian juvenile and now Kentucky Derby winner as a first foal make Mining My Own a flashy and highly desirable item for any top-end breeder.

That means that Needham and Halecki are in the driver’s seat for a major commercial success. Whether the mare sells through a public auction at Keeneland or at Fasig-Tipton or through a private transaction to one of a handful of premium mare buyers, Mining My Own will be as big a success story in 2009 as her famous son.

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