Dating back to 1887 when famous Polish actress Helena Modjeska attended the third running of the Kentucky Derby, celebrities have been spotted gracing Churchill Downs to enjoy “the greatest two minutes in sports”. The Derby draws the rich and famous - celebrity fans, horse owners, English royalty and even a handful of American presidents.
The America's Best Racing brand ambassadors have paired the top 23 contenders for the 2014 Kentucky Derby with their celebrity equivalents.
California Chrome and Adam Levine (Rockstar)
- California Chrome is a popular star who was born in California.
- Adam Levine also is a popular star who was born in California.
- California Chrome made his debut under the radar and slowly reached stardom about a year after his debut.
- Adam Levine (Maroon 5) debuted under the radar and the album slowly grew in popularity until it turned into a hit two years after its debut.
- California Chrome proved to have some smooth moves on the racetrack.
- Adam Levine sings about having “Moves Like Jagger”.
Vicar's in Trouble and Jared Leto (Actor/musician)
- Both were born in Louisiana.
- Vicar's in Trouble was bred in Louisiana by Spendthrift Farm.
- Leto is from Bossier City, La.
- Vicar’s in Trouble is by the sire Into Mischief.
- Leto was featured in the mischievous cult crime movie “American Psycho”.
- Both are known for starring roles while running.
- Leto made his name in the hit biopic “Prefontaine” about world-class runner Steve Prefontaine.
- Vicar’s in Trouble rose to stardom by running his opponents off their hooves in the Louisiana Derby.
Dance With Fate and Justin Timberlake (Superstar)
- Dance With Fate is by the sire Two Step Salsa, whose dam (mother) is by Seattle Slew. There is Kentucky Derby in his blood!
- Dance With Fate and Justin Timberlake are both pretty boys who made their debuts at an early age.
- Both are able to grab the attention of any audience with their distinct presence and captivating moves.
- After coming in second in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate in February, Dance with Fate got his "SexyBack" when he won the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 12.
Wicked Strong and Mark Wahlberg (Actor)
- Mark Wahlberg is a noted Boston ambassador and there’s no doubting the Beantown phrase “Wicked Strong” is a part of his daily vernacular.
- Wicked Strong was sputtering until his victory in the Wood Memorial, clinching his Kentucky Derby berth in the process.
- Wahlberg was sputtering early on in life, spending some time in prison, before getting his act together en route to a lucrative entertainment career.
- Both Wicked Strong and Wahlberg give back to the Boston community on a regular basis.
- Five-percent of Wicked Strong’s Triple Crown earnings will be donated to One Fund Boston for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Samraat and Jay-Z (Music mogul)
- Both were born in the Empire State - New York.
- Jay-Z is estimated to have a net worth of more than $500-million.
- Samraat is already almost a millionaire himself ($773,200 in earnings) - and he’s only 3 years old!
- Jay-Z’s albums include “The Blueprint,” “The Blueprint 2,” and “The Blueprint 3.”
- Samraat followed the blueprint of many successful racehorses by winning the Withers and Gotham Stakes.
- Jay-Z collaborated with R. Kelly on “Unfinished Business.”
- Samraat has unfinished business to take care of in Louisville on May 3.
Danza and Tony Danza (TV personality)
- Unbeknownst (until quite recently) to Tony Danza, Danza the horse got his name in owner Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ company-wide brainstorm session – it was suggested as a play on words since his sire is Street Boss.
- Danza instantly became a serious contender when he easily won the $1-million, Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park for top trainer Todd Pletcher at odds of 41-to-1 – paying $84.60 for a $2 win bet.
- Tony Danza became a TV legend after his staring role as cab driver and part-time boxer in “Taxi”.
- Danza is hoping to become THE BOSS on the first Saturday in May.
- Tony Danza’s other famous role was as a live-in housekeeper in “Who’s The Boss?”
- The Europeans may be onto something as Danza is one of their early betting favorites at 8-to-1 (as of April 22).
- In 1998, Tony Danza won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Male Performing in a New Television Series for his work on the 1997 sitcom “The Tony Danza Show”.
Hoppertunity and Jimmy Fallon (Comedian/singer)
- Jimmy Fallon HOPPED ON his first major opportunity when he joined the cast of “Saturday Night Live” then rode his career to the top by replacing Conan O’Brien and Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show”.
- No joke, hopefully by Saturday night of the Derby all of Hoppertunity’s backers will be laughing their way to the bank.
- Back in January, Fallon performed a parody of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” alongside Springsteen.
- Three-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert is hoping Hoppertunity was “Born to Run”, and not on Any Given Saturday (his sire) but when it counts in the Kentucky Derby.
- Hoppertunity has earned $610,720 in his career so far and will easily be a millionaire if he’s wearing a blanket of roses on May 3.
- Fallon earns an estimated $11 million a year as host of “The Tonight Show” (but I’m sure he didn’t earn a significant amount by the time he was 3 years old).
Intense Holiday and Peyton Manning (Denver Broncos Quarterback)
- Peyton Manning’s father, Archie, was an NFL quarterback who never won a Super Bowl, even though he was talented, very popular and highly regarded.
- Intense Holiday’s sire, Harlan’s Holiday, failed as the favorite in the 2002 Kentucky Derby even though he was very popular and highly regarded.
- Peyton Manning grew up in New Orleans.
- Intense Holiday really “grew up” when he was shipped to Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where he won the Risen Star Stakes and finished second in the Louisiana Derby.
- Peyton Manning comes from an All-Star family of quarterbacks.
- Intense Holiday comes from an All-Star barn (trainer Todd Pletcher) of racehorses.
Wildcat Red and Hulk Hogan (Wrestler)
- Wildcat Red wore a yellow #4 saddlecloth in winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes.
- Red and yellow are the predominant colors of Hogan’s iconic wrestling attire.
- Wildcat Red has run all of his races at Gulfstream Park, 10 minutes from Hollywood, Fla.
- The star wrestler was known for a period of time as “Hollywood Hulk Hogan.”
- Both are tenacious fighters.
- Wildcat Red loves to duel all the way to the finish line and has won two major stakes races.
- Hogan has been a professional wrestler for nearly 40 years and is 12-time world champion.
We Miss Artie and Drake (Rapper)
- We Miss Artie is the only horse bred outside the United States in this year’s Kentucky Derby - he was born in Ontario, Canada.
- Drake was also born in Ontario (Drake is a native of Toronto).
- We Miss Artie was purchased at auction in 2011 at Keeneland, which is located in Lexington, Ky.
- Drake is a noted fan of the University of Kentucky Wildcats’ basketball team, which plays its home games in Lexington.
- We Miss Artie enjoyed his greatest success (winning the Spiral Stakes at Turfway) after he packed up and shipped out of South Florida.
- Drake also packed up and shipped out of South Florida after selling his downtown Miami condominium for $2.5-million.
Ride On Curlin and Robert Downey Jr. (Movie star)
- The well-traveled Ride On Curlin, like “Iron Man” (one of Downey’s most well known roles), never fails to fire and has never been off the board in his career, showing the durability of an “Iron Man”.
- Ride On Curlin made his debut on June 21, 2013 at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.
- Robert Downey Jr. made his screen debut at age 5 when he appeared in his father’s film “Pound”.
- Ride On Curlin’s sire, Curlin, is the highest North American money earner and Ride On Curlin has earned $414,687 in his nine starts.
- Six of the movies that Downey has starred in have each made more than $500-million worldwide at the box office - making him Hollywood’s top money earner at more than $75 million a year.
- Hardworking and talented, Robert Downey Jr. has clearly surpassed his actor father.
- Ride On Curlin is hoping to do the same.
Chitu and Adam Pally (Actor)
- Chitu was born on March 18.
- Guess when Adam Pally was born? Yep, March 18.
- Adam Pally is best known for his work in the TV series “Happy Endings” and movies like “Iron Man 3” and “The To Do List”. He’s based in Los Angeles.
- There is no doubt that Chitu will have to go through his ‘To Do List” and fight like an “Iron Man” through the entire race in order to reach that “Happy Ending” in the Kentucky Derby.
- Chitu also is based in Los Angeles.
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- Tapiture and Ring Weekend are both by Tapit, making up horse racing’s most accomplished three-year-old siblings. (Yes, we know horses by the same sire are not “officially” siblings - lighten up.)
- The Wilson brothers are cinema’s high-profile brother duo.
- Tapiture finds himself just ahead of Ring Weekend in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings, with 52 and 50 points, respectively — quite the sibling rivalry.
- Owen can safely lay claim to having the edge over Luke in celebrity standing, having landed a large number of leading roles in his career.
General a Rod and Leonardo DiCaprio (Movie star)
- DiCaprio has been nominated for five Academy Awards, but has yet to take home an Oscar. Similarly, General a Rod hasn’t seen the winner’s circle yet in a major race.
- Both are often front-runners.
- General a Rod is hoping to find his “totem” and gain his “Inception” into Derby lore in this year’s “Two Minute War” testing his courage, heart and ability.
- DiCaprio achieved international fame in 1997 after his lead role as Jack Dawson in James Cameron’s “Titanic”.
- General a Rod is seeking his blockbuster moment in this year’s competitive Derby field.
- DiCaprio is named after Leonardo Da Vinci - his pregnant mother was looking at a Da Vinci painting when he first kicked.
- General a Rod is named after his owner Armando Rodriguez.
Medal Count and Michael Phelps (Olympian)
- Medal Count is by the sire Dynaformer, who also sired 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. With a winning sire like that, history is sure to be made.
- American swimmer Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 22 medals, talk about keeping count!
- After finishing second in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, Medal Count could ready for a "comeback" performance to claim the title of Kentucky Derby winner.
- Michael Phelps recently announced he is launching a comeback out of retirement to compete in swimming events.
Candy Boy and Johnny Depp (Actor/Director, Musician)
- Candy Boy and Johnny Depp both were born in Kentucky and caught their “big break” at a young age. In February, the 3-year-old colt won the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita.
- With his shiny, toffee-like coat, Candy Boy is a definite looker
- Johnny Depp who has been named the "Sexiest Man Alive" twice by People Magazine.
- Johnny Depp played the role of Willy Wonka in the 2005 film “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and also played the acoustic guitar in the movie “Chocolat”.
Uncle Sigh and Si Robertson (Duck Dynasty star)
- The duck-calling reality TV show star is often referred to as “Uncle Si,” how coincidental!
- Uncle Sigh is co-owned by Chip McEwen III, who is an advocate for supporting veterans and renamed his stables to The Wounded Warrior Stable.
- McEwen has pledged that 10% of the stables earnings will be donated to various charities that support injured veterans.
- Si Robertson is a former U.S. Army soldier.
- Si Robertson recently got the horse-racing bug and has partnered with Wes Melcher of Double Infinity Ranch to race a 2-year-old filly named Sithechristmas Elf.
- Uncle Sigh will be wearing blinkers in the Kentucky Derby. Si Robertson wears glasses.
Vinceremos and Vince Vaughn (Actor)
- Vinceremos and Vince Vaughn were both born in March, and of course, they share the name Vince.
- Vince Vaughn has starred in movies like “Old School,” “The Dilemma,” “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” “Be Cool,” “Lay The Favorite,” and others.
- Although Vinceremos faces “The Dilemma” of not being a favorite for the Kentucky Derby, he has a shot to dodge the field, “Be Cool,” and become “A True Underdog Story”.
- Vinceremos might go “Old School” like his great-grandsire Unbridled, who won the Kentucky Derby in 1990.
Harry's Holiday and Harry Styles (Pop star - One Direction)
|John C. Engelhardt
for Pat Lang Photography
- Harry’s Holiday has shown a few styles of running, but it seems that his best races have resulted when he’s taken one direction, and that is, on the lead or close to the lead.
- Harry Styles has already won different awards for his styles of fashion.
- We know he’s focused on One Direction.
- Could it be that if Harry’s Holiday wins the Derby, Harry Styles will celebrate like it’s his Holiday?
Commanding Curve and Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers pitcher)
- Justin Verlander is one of the most dominant pitchers in Major League Baseball, and one of the pitches in his arsenal is his “commanding curve”.
- Justin Verlander has a notable close relationship with his mother.
- As a weanling, Commanding Curve also had a close relationship with his mom ... who is ironically named Mother.
- Justin Verlander’s manager, Brad Ausmus, gained invaluable coaching experience during an 18-year MLB playing career before becoming a manager.
- Commanding Curve’s “manager,” Dallas Stewart, gained invaluable coaching experience after 12 years as an assistant for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, whose nickname is “The Coach”.
Pablo Del Monte and Juan Pablo Galavis (The Bachelor)
- Pablo Del Monte is out of a mare named One Hot Wish, by Bring the Heat.
- Juan Pablo is widely regarded as, well ... hot.
- Pablo Del Monte has shown speed in several races leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
- Before “The Bachelor”, Juan Pablo was a speedster himself as a professional soccer player.
- Pablo Del Monte is considered an outsider in his pursuit of Kentucky Derby’s garland of roses.
- Juan Pablo knows a thing or two about giving and receiving roses.
Bayern and Justin Bieber (Singer, song-writer)
- It’s all in the pedigree. Bayern is by Offlee Wild out of Alittlebitearly, who is by Thunder Gulch. That pedigree sounds like a rockstar.
- Who fits the pedigree? We know Justin Bieber is an energetic guy who’s shown he can be “Offlee Wild”
- Bieber has gotten in some trouble ‘Alittlebitearly’ in his career (he's only 20 years old).
- Bieber has been spotted attending Oklahoma City Thunder games from time to time.