Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lakers' Bryant, Gasol team up to buy horse

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are more than just teammates on the Los Angeles Lakers. The NBA stars have partnered in owning a racehorse.

Bryant and Gasol bid against each other for an ownership stake in a 4-year-old gelding named Siempre Mio as part of a Lakers Foundation fundraiser at Riviera Country Club on Tuesday night.

Santa Anita Park chief executive officer Mark Verge donated a 25 percent stake in the gelding along with a day at the races as part of a live auction.

"Pau Gasol bid first, but then he and Kobe got into a little bit of a bidding war. Kobe won the bidding at $8,000," Doug O'Neill, who trains the gelding, said Wednesday.

Verge then offered Gasol a chance to buy a 25 percent interest in the horse in exchange for a donation to the Lakers Foundation. Part of the deal was that the new owners pay no expenses in the horse's care and training.

O'Neill said he spoke to Jeanie Buss, the daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss, about having silks designed similar to the Lakers' jerseys.

"Pau was really excited," O'Neill said. "He told me he loves horses and it was just a matter of time before he bought a racehorse. Kobe can't wait to see him run, barring playoff conflicts."

Siempre Mio has two wins and a second in five career starts, including winning his most recent race on March 31 at Santa Anita. The gelding is also owned by Verge, who owns and Chris Quinn, vice president of sales and marketing at Santa Anita.

Bryant and Gasol aren't the first among the Lakers organization to be involved in thoroughbred racing. Jerry Buss has co-owned horses over the years, while son and team executive Jim Buss was a licensed trainer for several years in California.


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