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Jul 16, 2010

George Steinbrenner's best chance in Kentucky Derby

By: By Don Agriss, Horse Racing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Tuesday the sports world lost one of its most recognizable figures when a heart attack claimed the life of George Steinbrenner. The owner of the New York Yankees passed away at the age of 80.

While best known as the owner of the Bronx Bombers, the Ohio-native was very much involved in thoroughbred racing. He raced under the name of Kinsman Stable and bred horses at Kinsman Farm in central Florida.

"The thoroughbred racing world joins the rest of the sporting community in mourning the death of George Steinbrenner," said Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. "He was a devoted owner and breeder and philanthropist for more than 40 years, and his Kinsman Farm near Ocala, FL, produced numerous stakes winners. His many contributions to our sport are greatly appreciated, and he will be sorely missed."

Steinbrenner never won a Triple Crown race, though he had serious contenders for the Run for the Roses. In 2005 he even had the post-time favorite for the 1 1/4-mile race at Churchill Downs.

Bellamy Road, a colt purchased by Steinbrenner, had won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct prior to starting in the Kentucky Derby. The three-year-old was made the 5-2 favorite for the race over Arkansas Derby champ Afleet Alex, Santa Anita Derby winner Buzzards Bay and Blue Grass Stakes champ Bandini.

Ridden by Javier Castellano, Bellamy Road sat third at the start behind pacesetters Spanish Chestnut and Going Wild. Coming off the final turn, Steinbrenner's colt was second, only a head in back of stablemate High Fly.

But Bellamy Road picked the wrong year to challenge for the lead in the Kentucky Derby. The fast pace (the first six furlongs went in 1:09 2/5) took its toll on the front-runners and a pair of longshots Giacomo (50-1) and Closing Argument (71-1) came charging down the stretch to finish first and second, respectively.

Steinbrenner's horse couldn't keep up and faded to seventh in the 20-horse field. Bellamy Road was one of six Kentucky Derby starters that Mr. Steinbrenner had.

Bellamy Road was not entered in the remaining two Triple Crown races, but he came back to finish second to Flower Alley in the Travers as the 2-1 second choice.

In his career Bellamy Road won four of seven starts with one second-place finish and banked $811,400.

"The two best horses I ever trained,' said Nick Zito, "were Unbridled's Song and Bellamy Road."

Along with his involvement with Major League Baseball and thoroughbred racing, Steinbrenner was a benefactor of the Penn Relays track and field carnival. His father, running for MIT, was the 1927 high hurdles champion at the Franklin Field event. George was a hurdler at Williams College and the Lockbourne Air Base.

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