Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville and Atlanta Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice shared a mutual friend and a passion: horse racing. The mutual friend, Mike Pegram, is a horse owner and recruited the pair to be part of a group that owns three-year old colt Midnight Hawk.
On Saturday, Midnight Hawk, trained by the legendary Bob Baffert, finished third in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park. It was the horse's third career race and first time it had not won.
The third place finish sets up Midnight Hawk for a potential run in May's Kentucky Derby, the first jewel of horse racing's triple crown. The colt is one of the early favorites for the race, coming in at 19-1 as of Sunday.
Quenneville and the Blackhawks are no strangers when it comes to thoroughbreds.
Quenneville is a long-time racing fan, hitting Saratoga Racecourse in upstate New York nearly every summer, and he’s owned horses in the past as a partner in Team Power Play. In 2010, the year of his first Stanley Cup as coach of the Blackhawks, he presented the trophy to the winner of the Arlington Million at Arlington Park.
In 1992, Quenneville hit a Pick 6 at Saratoga worth, he said, more than $120,000; in 2009 at Hollywood Park, one-time Blackhawks player and current Blackhawks broadcaster Eddie Olczyk hit one for $500,000.
You'll recall Olczyk brought the Stanley Cup to New York's Belmont Park after he won it as a member of the New York Rangers in 1994. You can also find Olczyk revealing his Derby pick on NBC during the annual NHL playoff game broadcasted just before the race.
In three months time, Olczyk might be predicting a Derby victory for Quenneville's Midnight Hawk.
- - - - - - -