FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Mike Willman (626) 574-6417
BASKETBALL GREATS BRYANT AND GASOL TEAMMATES ON RACEHORSE OWNERSHIP WITH SANTA ANITA’S C.E.O. VERGE AFTER LAKERS FOUNDATION FUNDRAISER
ARCADIA, Calif. (April 24, 2012)—Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol had a night off Tuesday, but that didn’t prevent the two Lakers stars from indulging in some good old fashioned horse trading at Riviera Country Club. In fact, when the Lakers Foundation fund raiser concluded, Bryant and Gasol emerged as ownership partners on a Thoroughbred gelding named Siempre Mio, courtesy of Santa Anita C.E.O. Mark Verge.
“I decided to offer a 25 percent stake in the horse, along with A Day at the Races, as a live auction item,” said Verge. “What ended up happening was that Kobe and Pau got into a bidding war and Kobe finally outran Pau at $8,000.”
“All of the money that was donated last night will go to benefit the Lakers Youth Foundation and Santa Anita is proud to support their programs,” said Verge.
Gasol, a native of Spain, was apparently enamored with the horse’s name.
“Translated, Siempre Mio means ‘Always Mine.’ I decided that since Pau was bidding with interest and he really did give it the old college try, I’d donate another 25 percent to him as long as he made a separate donation to the Lakers Foundation. So now, Kobe and Pau own 50 percent of Siempre Mio, with no expenses, for the rest of the year.”
A 4-year-old California-bred gelding by Dixie Union, Siempre Mio broke his maiden by 2 1Ž4 lengths when running for a $20,000 claiming tag on March 31. Ridden by Joy Scott, Siempre Mio is trained by Doug O’Neill and owned by Verge’s WestsideRentals.com and (Santa Anita Vice President of Sales and Marketing) Chris Quinn.
“We’ve already had a lot of fun with this horse and now, with Kobe and Pau involved, this is really awesome,” said Verge. “He’s in good form. He just broke his maiden and now we’ll just look for a place to run him at Hollywood Park. Hopefully the Lakers are still going in the playoffs and they’ll be here at home so everybody can watch him run.”
Although Tuesday’s auction results appear to be a Lakers first, the Sport of Kings is certainly not new to purple and gold management as owner Jerry Buss has owned several horses along with his partner Frank Mariani over the years. Jerry’s son (Laker’s Executive Vice President, Player Personnel) Jim Buss was a licensed Thoroughbred trainer for a number of years in California.
“We look forward to hosting the Lakers family and having them experience what we consider to be the most beautiful racing venue in the world this fall. (Lakers announcer) John Ireland emceed the auction last night and he said he’s looking forward to taking us up on the offer. We’ll name a race for Kobe, introduce everyone to our Arcadia Suite, which is trackside on the Club House turn, and arrange a couple of carriage trips to the starting gate. Hopefully everybody will cash a few tickets.”
Santa Anita’s 2012 Autumn Meet will begin in late September and be highlighted by the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be run Nov. 2 and 3. For more information, visit www.santaanita.com, or call (626) 574-RACE.
|Mark Verge, at left|
|Mark Verge, 2nd from right|
Editor's note: Mark Verge worked as a LACo Recurrent Beach Lifeguard on Santa Monica South in the mid to late 1980's on schedule with the likes of other notorious SMS recurrents like Mike Crews, Bill Wilson, Ivan Wilkins, Craig Hummer, Steve Hotchkiss, Durrell Rittenberg, Tim McNulty, the undersigned, plus OLS' Bill Dederick and Dan Atkins, plus then Lt. Ira Gruber, just to name a few. Mark is also the younger brother of Veteran LACo Recurrent Arthur C. Verge and the son of retired Santa Monica City beach lifeguard/Santa Monica College History Professor, Emeritus, Art Verge. Below is a photo of Mark from the Summer of 1988 with OLS Dave Estey at left and OLS Bill Powers at right, during the annual summer Central Section Crew photo shoot (Photo by Will Maguire).
Until next time.....
Will Maguire, Editor
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