LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- As manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Joe Torre could have found himself in any one of 16 cities Wednesday morning. But as luck would have it, the Dodgers are in the midst of a series with the Cincinnati Reds, affording Torre the opportunity to make the two-hour drive to Louisville to be on hand to watch his Homeboykris work six furlongs in 1:14.48 in preparation for an expected start in the Kentucky Derby.
Torre purchased an interest in Homeboykris shortly after the son of Roman Ruler put himself on the map last fall with a victory in the Grade 1 Champagne. Torre also owns a share of Game On Dude, who is scheduled to compete in Saturday's Derby Trial.
"By the quirk of the schedule, I had a chance to come down here this morning to watch my horse work, and it couldn't have been more exciting," Torre said. "This is the first time I've actually seen Homeboykris in person or been on the backside here at Churchill Downs. Up to this point, I've only been able to watch him on TV, and it's not the same as being able to walk through the stable area or stand in the grandstand, look out there and see your own horse working."
Torre credited Don Zimmer for reintroducing him to racing during his long and successful tenure with the New York Yankees.
"Being around George Steinbrenner all those years and knowing what the Kentucky Derby meant to him and how special it was led me to set a goal of trying to at least be able to participate in the race and, of course, hopefully, someday be fortunate enough to win it," Torre said. "When I had a share in Vineyard Haven, a few years it looked like we had a pretty good chance, but we wound up selling him prior to the Derby."
Torre and his partners, including the late Bobby Frankel, sold Vineyard Haven, winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful and Champagne at 2, to Godolphin in November of his 2-year-old campaign.
"Unfortunately, I'll be back in L.A. on Derby Day, but I will be able to watch the race on TV before we play that night," Torre said. "You know the guys on the team always have Derby pools going, but I'll have to beg off this time. There's only one horse I want to root for in the Derby this year."