There's no better measure of how fond Rick Pitino is of his current Louisville team than the names he has given three of the horses he owns.
He christened a large, lanky colt "Gorgui," an homage to shot-blocking 7-footer Gorgui Dieng. He dubbed a smaller, speedier colt "Siva," a tribute to jet-quick point guard Peyton Siva. And then just this week he decided to call a talented but enigmatic 2-year-old horse "Russdiculous," the same nickname he bestowed on mercurial fan-favorite Russ Smith during the Cardinals' Final Four run a few months ago.
"Russdiculous," a horse Pitino purchased last month for $145,000, is expected to make his debut this summer at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in Southern California, according to Jody Demling of Cardinal Authority. The horse is trained by Doug O'Neill, who also trained 2012 Kentucky Derby winner, "I'll Have Another."
"Doug O'Neill said he needed a name," Pitino told Demling. "He said this horse could be anything. He could be a great one or maybe not. He said he just has so much talent.
"I said, 'So you just don't know about him, huh?' So, I told him that I knew someone who can be the MVP of both teams, so that's what we named him Russdiculous."
The entire horse racing community should pull for "Gorgui," "Siva" or "Russdiculous" to run their way into the Kentucky Derby next year because the result would interweave two of the Bluegrass State's greatest passions.
Half the crowd would bet hundreds of dollars on a horse named after a Louisville player even if she was three-legged and blind in one eye. The other half would sooner run onto the freeway during rush hour than root for "Gorgui," "Siva" or "Russdiculous" to win at Churchill Downs.