Former Clevelander lives Kentucky Derby dream with 'Wicked Strong'

Wicked Strong in Kentucky Derby 140

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - For Cleveland native Pete Horvitz, watching horse racing has been a longtime passion that he shares with his wife Peggy and his mother, Lois. As a child, Peter recalls attending races at Thistledown and claims it was his mother who sparked his interest in the Sport of Kings at an early age.

Horvitz currently resides in the state of Washington but his passion takes him to Kentucky this week to live out the dream of a lifetime as a thoroughbred owner putting a horse in the starting gates of the Kentucky Derby. Horvitz is part of a 20-member syndicate group through Centennial Farms who will saddle colt Wicked Strong this Saturday.

Horvitz has had a relationship with the Massachusetts based Centennial Farms for 25 years and says that both he and his wife and mother all have a vested interest of 15 percent of the colt.

On Wednesday, Wicked Strong pulled the outside position which was a bit unexpected for the partnership as the only horse to accomplish a Derby win in recent years from post 20 was Big Brown in 2008.

Horvitz explains, "Jockey Rajiv Maragh and the horse have a great relationship, they are connected. Rajiv will follow instructions from trainer Jimmy Jerkens on how to maneuver the horse to the inside without expunging his energy so he has something left in the stretch."

Wicked Strong has looked good in workouts this week. His performance has shown improvement as the year has gone on going from a poor finish in the Holy Bull, to winning the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.

"It's difficult to win at Gulfstream because it's a speed favoring track," Horvitz claimed. 

While the colt was having difficulty in Florida, making adjustments and shipping the horse north for the Wood Memorial turned out to be a decision of a lifetime for this racing team. Peter recognizes that anything can happen in a race, especially in a 20-horse field. Sometimes that means the best horse doesn't always win when the field is so large because the horse can get stuck in traffic and have a bad trip.

Wicked Strong has the pedigree to go the distance of the Kentucky Derby. He is the son of Hard Spun, a runner-up to the 2007 Kentucky Derby and is out of mare Moyne Abbey by Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Charismatic. The colt's name was changed from Moyne Spun to Wicked Strong, giving recognition to victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.

As far as Saturday's race is concerned, Horvitz says, "I'm hopeful Wicked Strong gets a trip like he did in the Wood Memorial."

Peter will be watching his dream unfold from the third floor of Churchill Downs on Saturday along with 150,000 other spectators for the greatest two minutes of sports.

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