Dr. Leonard Blach
sure is having a lot of fun as he
nears 80 years old.
That's just the way it is when you end up being co-owner of a Kentucky Derby winner well past your 70th birthday.
"I never dreamed of that happening," he
said by phone earlier this week.
"That in itself was a big surprise.
Then to make a movie about him, that's an even bigger surprise. "Him" is the horse Mine That Bird, the 50-to-1 longshot that won the 2009 Kentucky Derby, and spawned the making of the movie "50-1."
The movie will be shown at the Yuma Theater, Saturday through Thursday, with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday, then 7 p.m. showings Monday through Thursday.
It is rated PG-13.
Mine That Bird will not be in town for the Saturday premier, but Blach
was going to try his
best to be here, though it was not certain as he
has an appointment on Friday that he
Blach, a veterinarian, grew up on the family farm in the Yuma area, one of eight children in the Herman and Ella Blach clan.
Blach's brother Harold is the only one who still lives in the Yuma area.
Leonard Blach left Yuma after graduating from high school in 1952, earned a degree in veterinarian medicine.
He went on to become a successful doctor in equine medicine, owning and operating Buena Suerte Equine Clinic in Roswell, New Mexico.
has been there since the 1960s.
New Mexico has a thriving horse racing community, with six tracks comprising a year-round circuit.
Besides the myriad of services offered by his
equine clinic, Blach
also bought interests in race horses off and on through the years, but never went in too deeply.
"It's a game in which you've got to have some discretionary funds," he
said, adding it was only ever done as a business investment.
Blach and partner Mark Allen, who owns Double Eagle Ranch in Roswell, ended up purchasing a little-known race horse named Mine That Bird in 2008.
was not sure he
wanted to buy an interest in the horse, adding they talked about it over a bottle of tequila before making a decision.
The gelding won four of his first six starts before being purchased by Allen and Blach
"We didn't even know we had a horse eligible (for the Kentucky Derby)," Blach
It turns out that Mine That Bird had enough winnings to be 18th in money earned in graded stakes.
At that time, the top 20 qualified for the Derby.
noted that luckily the Kentucky Derby people were keeping track.
said the first time they were called about Mine That Bird being eligible for the prestigious race, they thought it was a joke and hung up on the man.
"The man called up a couple of days later again and said 'don't hang up, this is for real,'" Blach
"Us cowboys, we went out there and beat them," Blach
"They just ignored us when we were out there.
They weren't mean to us, they just ignored us."
They did not mind the anonymity; Blach
said they would duck into the tack room whenever they saw the press coming around the barns for interviews.
"We didn't know what to say," he
Veteran actor William Devane plays Blach.
"You'll like it when you see it," Blach
"Every little scene you see actually happened."
The film premiered in Albuquerque, with Harold and some of his
family also attending, then cast, crew and horse set out on a road trip promoting the film as it opened in limited theaters.
The tour covered New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky.
The movie has been very well received, and is opening in more locations as it gains traction.
said it has to play before the right demographic.
related about how at the premier, Borel was just a few seats away, and as the movie version of Mine That Bird heads toward the finish line, "He was bent over just like he was riding the horse."