In late April, we brought you a peculiar story in which Los Angeles Lakers teammates Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol got into a bidding war over a horse at a charity auction. Kobe won the auction with a bid of $8,000, but he then extended a stake in the horse, a four-year-old gelding named Siempre Mio, to Gasol. It was a random story, but a nice one in that two, star teammates found a way to bond off the court.
On Sunday, Siempre Mio ran at Hollywood Park in Inglewood, losing by a nose after being closed upon by the amazingly named Valkyrie Missile. However, due to the vagaries of horse ownership, Siempre Mio changed hands from two major sports stars to another when the race was over. The Associated Press explains:
Upon crossing the finish line in second place, [Siempre Mio] belonged to 2009 NFL MVP Drew Brees and his partners. [...]
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. [...]
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. [...]
[San Anita CEO Mark] 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.
And so a weird story gets even weirder. Brees is serious about his racing — Holy Candy has some impressive finishes — so it's not too shocking that he would be involved in the claim a horse. But Siempre Mio's passing hands from a group including Kobe and Pau to one involving Brees feels like a joke, or maybe some kind of athlete conspiracy the public doesn't even known about. Just imagine if Siempre Mio is to turn into the property of various superstar athletes, until he goes down the rung of fame and ends up being ridden in jousting shows at Medieval Times run by former draft busts like Charlotte Bobcats wing (and apparent Ozzfest roadie) Adam Morrison and San Diego Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf. The valiant knight Ian Mahinmi might not be there to save him!
Of course, as if the ownership situation wasn't weird enough, then Mark Verge told us that Pau Gasol has fallen in love with every horse in Doug O'Neill's barn. It's as if, in the wake of becoming the scapegoat for the Lakers' troubles this postseason, Pau needed to be around animals that would appreciate his affection and never judge him for his disappointments. (Yes, I am imagining Gasol as a character on the terrific, now-canceled HBO series "Luck.")
In two months, I fully expect Brees to lose Siempre Mio to Cam Newton in a card game. Pau will be sad for more upheaval in the horse's life, but all he'll be able to do in response is feed it more carrots. For him and the horse, that gesture will be more meaningful than we can ever know.
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