About the Author
Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Updated at 12:20 p.m. EST on Saturday, Aug. 25
If you're looking for NFL-related hunch bets at the famed Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, you won't go lacking.
Open your program to Race 10, the seven-furlong Test Stakes, and look closely at the ownership of the No. 7, Gypsy Robin. Your eyes don’t deceive you: One of the co-owners of the three-year-old filly is Patriots WR Wes Welker. Gypsy Robin is 15-1 in the $500,000 Test, a longshot, but she’s won 4-of-7 races, including three stakes.
Two races later comes another Grade 1 race, the $1 million Travers. The No. 5 horse, Street Life, whom we’ve profiled previously, is co-owned by Texans owner Robert C. McNair’s Magnolia Racing Stable LLC. Street Life, a three-year-old colt, won his last race, the Curlin Stakes, in career-best fashion. At 5-1, he is the fourth-betting choice in the 1¼-mile Travers.
Earlier Saturday, in Race Two, eight two-year-old colts are slated to race three-quarters of a mile. The No. 4 horse, 2-1 on the morning line, has a name that will, at the very least, ring a bell with NFC South enthusiasts.
First, some background: The horse is trained by Todd Pletcher, one of the sport’s top trainers, and he will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez. Five months ago Sunday, this brown colt fetched $440,000 at the Fasig-Tipton sale in Florida, almost twice what he cost when his original owners bought him as a yearling.
When it came time to name the horse, the new owners, WinStar Farm LLC and Twin Creeks Racing, had an idea. They would name him after one of the previous owners.
Jake Delhomme, the previous owner we speak of, remembers hearing the proposed name. His sentiment at the time?
“He’s not going to run a jump. I promise you,” Delhomme joked late Friday afternoon.
The name stuck. And Saturday, Delhomme the colt debuts on one of horse racing’s biggest stages, on one of its biggest days.
Jake Delhomme, the former Saints, Panthers, Browns and Texans quarterback, is no stranger to horse racing. The Delhomme family breeds and races Thoroughbreds. His father, Jerry, and brother, Jeff, are trainers in Louisiana. Jake and Jeff Delhomme are on the board of the Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Association.
“I’ve been around horses my whole life,” Jake Delhomme said.
Delhomme the horse cost $230,000 at auction last October. Al Pike, who bought the horse, had never spent that much on a yearling.
“He was big, he was gorgeous,” said Pike, who sold a portion of the horse to Delhomme.
In addition, Delhomme bought stakes in three other yearlings. Among them: a Malibu Moon colt who was purchased for $725,000 at Fasig-Tipton in March — after costing just $140,000 as a yearling, Pike said.
Delhomme, who makes his home in Louisiana, enjoys the process of buying, developing, then reselling horses (called "pinhooking”), and he’s hoping for happy — and repeat — customers. Delhomme will also continue to race and breed his own stock. He's excited about a two-year-old filly, My Lady Lauren, who's named for his daughter.
For Delhomme, 37, horse racing has become a greater focus with his playing career in its closing stages. He had a “couple” teams inquire about his interest in being a backup early in the offseason, but nothing materialized. On Friday, Delhomme said he’s “probably done” as an NFL player, but he also didn't rule out coming back. If a team called in-season, “(then) it’s something I’d consider,” he said. Delhomme noted that he’s in shape, and that he hasn’t filed retirement papers.
Delhomme the colt has worked to positive reviews at Saratoga, Jake Delhomme said. The longtime quarterback will be watching the race on Saturday, as will Pike, who will be en route to another auction. The hope, as Pike joked, is that Delhomme the horse will be faster than his namesake.
Update: Delhomme ran second in his debut, beaten 1¾ lengths as the 6-5 favorite. He broke slowly, worked his way up toward the leaders on the turn and ran on nicely, albeit perhaps a little greenly. One silver lining is he may want to run longer than six furlongs.
For his part, Jake Delhomme told PFW Saturday that he was pleased with the colt's first race.