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Rick Pitino's Second Passion

Updated on August 28, 2012

To anyone who has followed the career of Rick Pitino through his days coaching at the University of Kentucky and currently at the University of Louisville, it’s no surprise to see him involved in horse racing. Over the years Pitino has been outspoken in his regard for thoroughbred racing and has owned quite a few horses. Horse racing is large part of the allure that the state of Kentucky holds with him, and in the months following his Cardinal basketball team’s success in the NCAA tournament, Pitino has been spending some time on his second passion.

As the leading partner of the stables Celtic Pride and Old Memorial, Pitino has had the opportunity to be involved very closely with the racing industry. On a recent recruiting trip out west, he stopped in at the Del Mar racetrack in California to check on several horses he has training under Doug O’Neill. If O’Neill’s name sounds familiar, it should. He is a highly regarded trainer who over saw the development of I’ll Have Another, a colt who won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes this past spring before retiring due to injury. Pitino was able to watch several of his colts work out, including two-year-olds Avare and Russdiculous. Russdiculous is named after Russ Smith, who is a shooting guard on the University of Louisville basketball team that made the Final Four in April. Pitino seems to have developed a penchant for naming his horses after players on his team that he holds in high regard. At the end of April he was asked to name two colts that are being trained by Randy Bradshaw, a respected trainer who helped break former Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom for Team Valor. Pitino chose “Siva” and “Gorgui” as the names for the pair. Those familiar with college basketball will quickly realize that the horses were named for point guard Peyton Siva and center Gorgui Dieng, both members of the current Cardinal basketball team.

As Rick Pitino begins to enter the twilight of his coaching career, it’s not difficult to imagine him transitioning over to being a more hands on owner, in regards to his stables. Basketball and horse racing are both exciting and challenging and Pitino has found the best place in the world to get to experience and be heavily involved with both; Kentucky.


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