Vince Wilfork is wicked high on Wicked Strong.
The Patriots defensive lineman, an admitted fan of the Sport of Kings, is at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., for Saturday's 140th Kentucky Derby. He spoke to Blood-Horse.Com about Wicked Strong, the three-year-old colt out of Centennial Farms in Beverly.
"It's a great story behind him. And having a connection to Boston, I think he's got a good shot," Wilfork says on the video.
The horse's owners will donate five percent of his earnings in the three Triple Crown races to The One Fund. Wicked Strong was given his name by Kim Jacobs, the wife of Bruins Principal Charlie Jacobs, last year.
On the clip, Wilfork appears much more the smiling, good-natured player Patriots' fans have gotten used to during the past decade. He shows none of the acrimony that resulted during his contract talks with the Patriots in March. They were lowlighted when he reportedly tore the nameplate off his locker and stormed out of the team's facility in Foxborough.
Wilfork and the Patriots eventually agreed on a three-year, $22.5 million incentive-laden contract on March 27. He originally was set to earn $7.5 million this season in the final year of a five-year, $40 million deal.
Wilfork got interested in horse racing a couple of years ago, he says. "You can hang out with the owners, the trainers, the horses. It's the only sport you can do it. You can talk to the trainers and jockeys. It's amazing. From one athlete to another," he said.
Wicked Strong moved up to 6-1 from 8-1 in the Derby's morning line Thursday after Hoppertunity was scratched. Wicked Strong's principal owner, Don Little of Centennial Farms, told The OBF Blog on Wednesday that Hoppertunity was one of the horses to beat in the race, along with favorite California Chrome, still the favorite at 5-2. Pablo Del Monte joined the field of 20 for Saturday’s race. Wicked Strong will still run from Gate. 20. Gate 1 is empty, and the inside horses have shifted out.
Wicked Strong, meanwhile, ran three furlongs Thursday in his final lengthy workout before Saturday's race [post time 6:24 p.m., NBC].
In case anyone wondered what my work ranked today. pic.twitter.com/TvXbZfmsEc— Wicked Strong (@WickedColt) May 1, 2014
That's from Wicked Strong's official Twitter account [@WickedColt], which has more than 1,110 followers. Given his lack of fingers and thumbs, the horse must have one of those giant-sized Samsung phones David Ortiz [a.k.a. Keenan Thompson] was pitching on "Saturday Night Live" two weeks ago.
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