All eyes will be on Louisville and Kentucky Saturday night as the two university's mens basketball teams battle in the NCAA Final Four tournament in New Orleans, Louisiana. On Monday, one of those teams will represent the Commonwealth in the NCAA Men's Final Tournament. Between Saturday and Monday, however, another athlete will represent the state in New Orleans--thoroughbred stakes winner Mission Impazible. Yes, a horse!
Mission Impazible, who finished ninth in the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby, will attempt to make history as the first horse to win back-to-back New Orleans Handicaps after winning the Louisiana Derby. The race highlights a stakes-filled race card on Sunday at Fair Grounds Racecouse in New Orleans. Also on the card is the Louisiana Derby which features Kentucky Derby hopefuls.
But what does this race in New Orleans for older horses have to do with Kentucky? Twin Creeks Racing, LLC, located in Versailles, Kentucky, owns Mission Impazible and happens to be big fans of the University of Kentucky Wildcats. Owners Randy Gullatt and Steve Davison have decided to forego their standard brown and green racing silks for silks designed especially to incorporate Mission Impazible's history-making attempt in Sunday's New Orleans Handicap, coach John Calipari's first attempt to win a NCAA Championship, and UK's first championship title since 1998.
The silks sport a royal blue body emblazoned with the letters "UK," white sleeves bearing wildcat paw prints and the words "2012 New Orleans" on one sleeve and "On A Mission" on the other, and the words "Go Big Blue" on the back.
If the University of Kentucky loses to the University of Louisville on Saturday night, Twin Creeks will still send their horse to the starting gate in the UK silks. With so many fans in New Orleans for the game, the hope is that fans will opt to support Mission Impazible at the Fair Grounds on Sunday as they await the title game on Monday.
The New Orleans Handicap is the eighth race on Sunday's card and is scheduled to post at 3:51 p.m. CST. It can be seen on TVG and HRTV.
Photo: Courtesy Twin Creeks Racing, LLC