Cerro, a 3-year-old colt partly owned by Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps, won the $54,500 third race at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
Phelps and his former coach, Bob Bowman, share an ownership interest in the Ireland-bred colt, which runs in the colors of Team Valor International. Cerro is trained by Graham Motion, who oversaw 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom for Team Valor.
Cerro ran 1-1/8 miles in 1 minute, 50.29 seconds to win by 2-1/2 lengths. He returned $6 on a $2 win bet.
Phelps, who retired after the London Olympics, became interested in horse racing through Bowman, who has bred and owned thoroughbreds for several years and is a friend of Motion. Phelps visited Motion’s stable in Elkton, Md., in December.
Phelps and Bowman weren’t on hand to see Cerro win on Saturday, although they were at Gulfstream to see the colt finish third in a race on Jan. 1.
”We are really excited to be part of Cerro’s partnership and see what he can do as he moves along this spring,” Bowman said.
Cerro’s next scheduled start at Gulfstream is March 3 in the Palm Beach Stakes. The colt is being pointed toward the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on March 24, a race won the past two years by Team Valor and Motion.
Phelps and Bowman attended the 2009 Kentucky Derby together and were at the 2011 Preakness, when Animal Kingdom finished second in Phelps’ hometown of Baltimore.
”I’ve always loved racing, and I got out because it just got to be a little much with the coaching. But now that Michael has retired and we’re on a little more flexible schedule, we both wanted to have fun with it,” Bowman said. ”I think he’s always seen how much fun I’ve had with it and wanted to get involved, and this is a great opportunity for us to do it.”
Barry Irwin’s Team Valor International syndicates horses among a group of partners. Irwin discovered Cerro in Italy, where he won his career debut on the turf last spring. He raced on turf in his first two US starts and improved when he switched to dirt earlier this month.