Throughout the 2012 NCAA tournament, and the Louisville Cardinals' unlikely run to the Final Four, Rick Pitino spoke openly and frequently about his feelings for his current team -- how much he loved coaching them, how hard they worked, how they maximized their ability and executed his plans despite lacking the elite talent of the other Final Four contenders. You could see the affection on the sidelines, in every press conference, and especially when Pitino and his team cut down the West Regional nets in Phoenix. It was real.
But in case we needed another reminder, here you go: Pitino named his horses after two of his players. From the Louisville Courier Journal:
“The Bellamy Road colt was a spectacular big, big colt,” Pitino said. “He was lanky, had great potential and goes the distance. I said I got the perfect name for him. I said ‘Gorgui.’ ”
The second colt, bred at Claiborne Farm, “is very, very quick — has a great first step, so to speak,” Pitino said. “I said I got the perfect name there, too. [Siva].”
“They’re two of my favorite ballplayers and young men,” Pitino said. “I told both guys. They’re super excited.”
The references, of course, are to Louisville center Gorgui Dieng and point guard Peyton Siva, and both seem like fitting noms de guerre. But can either horse run? According to the story, Gorgui "arguably has the better breeding of the two," but both horses will begin racing this summer, and Pitino is holding out hope that "Gorgui has the breeding to go long" enough that he could one day appear on the track in the first weekend in May for the Kentucky Derby.
I don't know much about horse racing, but I've been to the Derby, and I know this much: If a horse named "Gorgui" is running for the roses, it won't matter how much of a long shot he is coming into the day. He'll attract more than his fair share of bettors. Can you imagine? (Also, what if he won? Pitino making a victory lap at Churchill Downs? Hilarious.)