Fast company: Kentucky Derby favorite named after Usain Bolt

Bolt d’Oro, named in part after Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, is currently favored to win the Kentucky Derby next month. (Benoit Photo via AP)

The Kentucky Derby will be run one month from Thursday, on May 5 at Churchill Downs. The field is beginning to take shape – a few days ago, the owners of a horse named after New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski accepted an invitation to the race – and a horse named for another famous athlete is the current favorite to win the Run for the Roses.

Bolt d’Oro was named in homage to his father, Medaglia d’Oro, the horse that finished second at the Belmont Stakes and fourth at the Kentucky Derby in 2002, and Usain Bolt, the world-record holding sprinter.

Ike Green, who works for the horse’s owner, Mick Ruis, at Ruis’ ranch in Montana, came up with the name after watching Bolt run at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

“If you’ve ever just seen him run across the pasture, he just does it so easy and effortlessly,” Green told NBC Sports. “You ever notice how when Usain Bolt gets in front, he just starts grinning? Any time you watch him race, as soon as he’s in front, he gets a smile. The horse did everything so easy, I think it was kind of the same deal.”

The 31-year-old Usain Bolt, who retired last year after the IAAF World Championships, is the world record holder in both the 100- and 200-meters, and he and three of his fellow countrymen own the best time ever in the 4×100 meter relay. Bolt won eight gold medals across the 2008, 2012 and 2012 Summer Olympics.

It may turn out to be a famous name if Bolt d’Oro goes on to become a champion, but it wasn’t the first choice for the horse’s name. Or even the second.

According to Green, Ruis initially wanted to name the horse, born on St. Patrick’s Day 2015, Alvin, which is his given name (Alvin “Mick” Ruis), but Ruis had forgotten that he’d named another horse after himself just a couple of years ago.

The second name choice was “The Notorious One,” but that couldn’t be used because MMA fighter Conor McGregor has trademarked it.

“I think, after the first couple got rejected, [Ruis] just said, just get him named. He didn’t care, if I recall right,” Green said.

Bolt d’Oro will run this Saturday at the Santa Anita Derby, his first race in nearly a month; on March 10, he won the San Felipe, also at Santa Anita Park. has a weekly Kentucky Derby media poll, and the 25 experts polled there have picked Bolt d’Oro as their favorite for this year’s race each of the last four weeks.

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