LOUISVILLE, KY – Olympic champion Bode Miller (Franconia, NH) was in attendance last weekend as Super Saver streaked to victory during a muddy running of the 136th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
A 13-year veteran of the Audi FIS Alpine World Cup tour, Miller has become a mainstay at the derby, thanks to friend and Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Famer Bob Baffert. Baffert was a trainer for early race favorite Lookin at Lucky and father to a five-year-old son named Bode.
He became a Miller fan during the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, where Miller captured two silver medals. In Baffert’s mind, ski racing and horse racing are on a first name basis or as he’s famous for saying “one mistake, and you finish fifth or sixth.” That may have been the case for Lookin at Lucky, who was continually bumped throughout the race Saturday, ultimately finishing sixth.
When Baffert’s wife, Jill, became pregnant in early 2005, he lobbied for the name Bode for a boy. As luck would have it, that year Miller attended the Derby and was introduced to Baffert in the paddock before the race and invited to help saddle Baffert’s horse, Sort It Out.
The horse finished 17th, costing Miller $2, but the friendship stuck.
Fast forward to 2010 and Baffert was in the stands at Whistler to watch Miller compete at the Olympic Winter Games. Already a three medal winner with the perfect complement of bronze, silver and gold, Baffert was unfortunately on hand for the men’s technical races, where Miller skied out.
Maybe it cost him $2. Regardless, Baffert was able to hang out with Miller off the hill in Whistler, sort of a small tour of Miller’s paddock.
This year’s Derby wasn’t a winner for Lookin at Lucky, but if ski racing and horse racing really do stand on common ground, next year is always another opportunity to rewrite the record books.