Family honors Princess Lacey with racehorse

Lacey the Spartan made her debut Friday, finishing fourth in the sixth race at Churchill Downs.

"Down the stretch comes Lacey the Spartan."

Like many college basketball fans this past season, a Louisville, Ky, family was so moved by the story of an 8-year-old cancer patient from St. Johns, Mich., that they’ve named one of their racehorses after her.

Lacey Holsworth, whose friendship with Adreian Payne and the entire Michigan State team became such a source of inspiration, died in early April, just a couple weeks after her Spartans were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.

I wanted to name our horse in her honor.

Ericka James

But her memory lives on.

Greg James’ three daughters — Ericka, 12, Alexa, 9, and Jenna, 7, — watch basketball games with their father and were touched by "Princess Lacey" and her amazing spirit. So they asked if they could name a horse after her.

That horse — Lacey the Spartan — made her debut on Friday, finishing fourth in the sixth race at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Lacey the Spartan started the 5 1/2-furlong race in the first gate, got bumped at the start and fell way behind but made up ground late with jockey Julien Leparoux aboard.

"I just felt bad for her family," Ericka James said of Lacey in an interview with Adam Himmelsbach of the Louisville Courier-Journal. "I wanted to name our horse in her honor."

"She’s so pretty," young Jenna said of the 3-year-old filly with the white spot on her forehead.

Greg James has promised to donate a portion of any winnings to a charity in Lacey’s name.