Kentucky’s Sam Bowie talks about his new career in horse racing, why he has a horse named after a Carrie Underwood song and what’s it like to watch your own horse win (run time is 4:54; transcript below the jump).
Lost Lettermen: This is Jim Weber from LostLettermen.com and I’m joined by Kentucky’s Sam Bowie, the 2nd overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. Sam thanks for joining us.
You’re now living in Lexington, Kentucky, working in the horse racing industry. Could you talk about how you got involved in that?
Sam Bowie: Well when I came to Lexington from Levitton, Pennsylvania in 1979, I was a novice when it came to the horse industry. Didn’t know much about the game at all. But fell in love with the game here in Lexington and always said that if I was blessed and fortunate enough to play professionally to get an extra dollar, I would try to enter into the game. (inaudible)
Over the years I’ve had some luck and some success and it’s been a pleasure to say the least and it’s a way of competition now that I’m not playing basketball. Kind of a competitive feel in regards to kind of having success when you race a horse.
LL: Now a lot of people know that your prized horse is named “Before He Cheats” after the Carrie Underwood song. Could you talk about the genesis of that name and how you came up with it?
SB: Well it’s an interesting story. First of all the horse was already named when I bought him. He had great starts and I was watching him at a simulcast facility in Lexington, Kentucky, with some friends of mine. The horse finished second in the race but I thought that he was trapped and looked like he was real good gated. I pursued him and to make a long story short I wound up buying him for $50,000 and today he’s got like $580,000 on his card.
Aside from the money everyone wants to make a dollar and no one wants to lose a dollar, but the thrill and the enjoyment of a horse like that; that’s what the game is all about. Being lucky enough to come across a horse like “Before He Cheats” – it’s just been a pleasure to be affiliated with all the accomplishments of him racing 27 starts one year and him racing 21 out of 27 starts. So it was a beautiful thing and he’s (inaudible) and getting ready to race up there. Hopefully we’ll have some success up that way.
LL: Now people in Kentucky definitely know the thrill of horse racing. But could you describe to people who aren’t in the industry what it’s like to see your horse race?
SB: A lot of people to compare it to their actual children, believe it or not. And I know that’s probably an unstandard way to trying to visualize the horse game but there are many of us, including myself that … when you have a horse out there and you see him come across the line first and you realize all the work, all the preparation and all the luck that was involved.
They always say there’s a thousand ways to lose a race and one way to win it. So when you win a race, the thrill and excitement – you’re speechless. There are times and situations where I’ve been blessed and very fortunate to travel the world and been fortunate through athletics from the financial standpoint, but some of my biggest excitements and thrills have been when one of my horses comes across the line first.
LL: Now you also, as you mentioned, travel a lot with this job. Everyone knows this in the horse industry. What’s it like traveling, being a 7-foot-1 guy getting on a plane all the time?
SB: Actually I don’t fly much. I left the Lakers in ’95 and I’ve probably flown twice since then. But I drive to all my destinations. I love getting into a car and putting in a good CD and heading to Jersey, heading to Chicago, heading to Pennsylvania … wherever a race might be, up in Toronto, Canada.
And I think being a former athlete, I look at the horses as athletes. And so many times the general public thinks you just put them behind the gates and let them go but there’s so much work that goes in prior to the actual race. I don’t mind going at all. There’s some long trips home after your expectations, where you think you’re going to have some success and then for some reason or another it doesn’t work out.
The road gets a little bit longer but that’s just part of the game.