At This Year’s Kentucky Derby, Boston Has a Horse in the Race

Wicked Strong, named in the wake of the Marathon bombing, will donate 1 percent of his winnings to The One Fund.

Wicked Strong, Rajiv Maragh

Associated Press

The Kentucky Derby’s coming up next month, and this year, we might actually have a horse in the race, so to speak. That’s because the horse, Wicked Strong, won the Wood Memorial in an upset this weekend, ensuring his place in the Derby if he remains healthy.

Reasons you might root for him include:

Wicked Strong is, indeed, named in homage to the city of Boston. He’s owned by Centennial Farms in Beverly. Shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing, Centennial Farms President Don Little’s wife attended a Bruins game with Jeremy Jacobs (himself a horse enthusiast of some repute) and grew inspired. The name Boston Strong had been taken, so they went with Wicked Strong. This has the awesome benefit of requiring national news outlets to write explanations like this one (from Forbes):

In Boston and its environs, “wicked” isn’t an adjective denoting evil. It’s an adverb, synonymous with “very,” amplifying the adjective it modifies…

What’s in a name, you might ask? Maybe nothing, but the owners will also donate 1 percent of his lifetime earnings to The One Fund, as well as 5 percent of his winnings in any of this year’s Triple Crown races. The horse won $590,000 at the Wood Memorial, and with over $1 million on the line for the Derby winner, there’s reason enough to hope for a big finish. Plus, Little told Forbes he hopes to involve victims if the horse does make it to the race. “It would be nice,” he said, “if we could try to get one or two of the [marathon] victims and their families to come to the Derby if we decide to go.”

As for his chances, Wicked Strong’s breakaway at the Wood Memorial has given him a reputation for  a “late foot” and an “impressive rally,” as the New York Times put it. You can see it in action in the video of his Wood Memorial win. Even so, he’s not the favorite. That title goes to California Chrome, the Times writes. But hey, Wicked Strong was named to represent this city’s enduring spirit. And who doesn’t love an underdog horse?