Friends Welcome Pitino To Gulfstream

Friends Welcome Pitino To Gulfstream


Rick PitinoUniversity of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino, who co-owns Kentucky Derby hopeful Goldencents, spent Saturday afternoon at Gulfstream Park, where friends celebrated his election to the Basketball Hall of Fame as well as the Cardinals' NCAA championship.

Pitino, who has a home nearby, spent the afternoon watching races from across the country with friends.

"These guys are great," said Pitino of his friends. "They're all characters."

Pitino has had a remarkable month. Along with winning the NCAA Championship and getting elected to the Hall of Fame, Pitino's son, Richard, was named head basketball coach at the University of Minnesota and Goldencents won the Santa Anita Derby, stamping himself as one of the favorites for the May 4 Kentucky Derby.

Pitino has owned Thoroughbreds for several years. He owned Halory Hunter, who finished fourth in the 1998 Kentucky Derby, and A P Valentine, who finished seventh in the 2001 Derby before finishing second in both the Preakness and Belmont.

"I had a very small stable when I got into this," Pitino said. "I had seven horses, two went to the Derby, and I thought this game was easy. Then after going zero for the last 20, I learned the industry and the best thing we've tried to do is get partnerships who want to have a lot of fun and let the trainer train and stay out of it. And that's what I've done with (trainer) Doug O'Neill. He's allowed me to come in on six or seven horses and all of them I've had a great time with.

"We've had some nice horses and good luck and we're looking forward to the next few weeks."