A horse named Siempre Mio has gone from one MVP owner to another.
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The 4-year-old gelding raced Sunday at Betfair Hollywood Park with 2008 NBA MVP Kobe Bryant and Los Angeles Lakers teammate Pau Gasol among his owners. Upon crossing the finish line in second place, he belonged to 2009 NFL MVP Drew Brees and his partners.
Yes, Brees claimed a racehorse away from Bryant and Gasol.
In US horse racing, a great number of races are called claiming races. That means any horse entered can be "claimed" at the designated price for the race. It’s a way of evening out the competition so that horses worth $100,000 aren’t overwhelming less-talented stock worth $10,000 or so. It keeps the races, and the betting, competitive.
In the case of Siempre Mio in the first race Sunday, the claiming price was $12,500.
Given that Bryant and Gasol each paid $8,000 for a one-quarter share of the racehorse, Brees’ ownership group might have made a shrewd claim. Brees is a partner in Donkey Island Racing, best known for the 3-year-old Holy Candy. Trainer Mark Glatt made the claim on behalf of the new owners.
Siempre Mio was trained by Doug O’Neill, who guided I’ll Have Another to recent victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Siempre Mio took on five other older horses at six furlongs Sunday, a race won by Valkyrie Missile. Ridden by Joy Scott, Siempre Mio returned $2.60 on a $2 place bet.
Whereas I’ll Have Another gained fame by rallying in the stretch, Siempre Mio got tagged at the finish. Scott pushed him to the front early, and he led by five lengths in the stretch before Valkyrie Missile charged late to win by a nose.
Bryant and Gasol bought into the gelding during a Lakers charity fund-raiser in April. They engaged in a bidding war, and Bryant outbid Gasol by $8,000. Santa Anita CEO Mark Verge, who had the majority stake in the horse, then offered Gasol a 25 percent interest if he made a separate donation to the team’s foundation.
Verge said Gasol has been a regular visitor at O’Neill’s barn since the Lakers lost in the second round of the playoffs. O’Neill said Gasol is in love with all the horses in the trainer’s barn.
Siempre Mio earned $4,600 of the $23,000 purse. Since he was claimed for $12,500, that’s a total of $17,100 for the day for the former owners. A quarter of that is $4,275, which puts Bryant and Gasol $3,725 in the hole apiece.