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Kentucky Derby favorite named after Usain Bolt

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His name is Bolt d’Oro.

One of the early favorites for the Kentucky Derby (NBC, May 5) is indeed named after Usain Bolt.

Ike Green coined the name — a mix of homages to the Jamaican sprinter and its sire, Medaglia d’Oro — after watching Bolt on TV during the Rio Olympics. Green was one of Bolt d’Oro’s early trainers at owner Mick Ruis‘ ranch in Montana.

“If you’ve ever just seen him run across the pasture, he just does it so easy and effortlessly,” Green said. “You ever notice how when Usain Bolt gets in front, he just starts grinning? Any time you watch him race, as soon as he’s in front, he gets a smile. The horse did everything so easy, I think it was kind of the same deal.”

In 2002, Medaglia d’Oro finished fourth at the Kentucky Derby and second at the Belmont Stakes. Bolt d’Oro was foaled St. Patrick’s Day 2015.

Bolt d’Oro was actually the third choice for a name when Green’s wife, Aidan, went to submit it just before a Feb. 1, 2017 deadline.

“I think, originally, Mick had wanted to name him Alvin after himself [Alvin “Mick” Ruis], and when Aidan tried to submit that, she found out that Mick had named one that just a few years ago. [Ruis] had already forgotten,” Green said. “The second name she submitted for him was The Notorious One, but that was trademarked by [MMA fighter] Conor McGregor.

“I think, after the first couple got rejected, [Ruis] just said, just get him named. He didn’t care, if I recall right.”

Bolt has led a Kentucky Derby media poll four straight weeks heading into his first race in nearly a month, headlining the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday. The Santa Anita morning-line favorite was Bob Baffert‘s Justify, however.

“I’ve got [Bolt d’Oro] No. 1 in my rankings,” NBC analyst Randy Moss said. “He’s either going to be No. 1 or No. 2 in just about anybody’s rankings. … He’s a physical specimen, kind of like his namesake. Right now he’s on the very short list for the Kentucky Derby.”

Santa Anita airs during NBCSN’s broadcast that also includes the Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial from 5:30-7:30 p.m. ET.

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PHOTOS: Bolt gets statue near Bob Marley, more Jamaican icons

Mark Spitz takes on Katie Ledecky’s challenge

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Swimmers around the world took on Katie Ledecky‘s milk-glass challenge since it became a social media sensation, including one of the few Americans with more Olympic gold medals.

Mark Spitz, who won seven golds at the 1972 Munich Games, took 10 strokes in an at-home pool while perfectly balancing a glass of what appeared to be water on his head.

“Would’ve been faster with the ‘stache, @markspitzusa, but I still give this 7 out of 7 gold medals,” Ledecky tweeted.

Spitz joined fellow Olympic champions Susie O’Neill of Australia and American Matt Grevers in posting similar videos to what Ledecky first shared Monday.

In Tokyo next year, Ledecky can pass Spitz’s career gold-medal count of nine if she wins all of her expected events — 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyles and the 4x200m free relay.

Then she would trail one athlete from any country in any sport — Michael Phelps, the 23-time gold medalist who has yet to post video of swimming while balancing a glass on his head.

MORE: Spitz puts Michael Phelps’ career in perspective

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Serena Williams, reclusive amid pandemic, returns to tennis eyeing Grand Slam record

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Serena Williams travels with “like 50 masks” and has been a little bit of a recluse since early March and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I don’t have full lung capacity, so I’m not sure what would happen to me,” Williams said Saturday, two days before the start of the WTA’s Top Seed Open in Lexington, Ky., her first tournament since playing Fed Cup in early February. “I’m sure I’ll be OK, but I don’t want to find out.”

Williams, 38, has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms. She faced life-threatening complications following her Sept. 1, 2017, childbirth that confined her to a bed for six weeks. She said her daily routine was surgery and that she lost count after the first four.

More recently, Williams enjoyed “every part” of the last six months at home in Florida, her longest time grounded since her teens.

“I’ve been a little neurotic, to an extent,” on health and safety, she said. “Everyone in the Serena bubble is really protected.”

Williams is entered to play next week in Lexington and at consecutive tournaments in New York City later this month — the Western & Southern Open and U.S. Open, the latter starting Aug. 31.

Williams is the highest-ranked player in the Lexington field at No. 9. Others include 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, older sister Venus Williams and 16-year-old Coco Gauff.

She has been bidding ever since having daughter Olympia to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, albeit many of Court’s crowns came before the Open Era and, notably at the Australian Open, against small fields lacking the world’s best players. Williams reached the last two Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals, losing all of them.

She showed her seriousness in committing early to this year’s U.S. Open by installing a court at home with the same surface. Three of the top 10 female singles players already said they will skip the U.S. Open due to travel and/or virus concerns, including No. 1 Ash Barty.

“Tennis is naturally a socially distanced sport, so it was kind of easy to go back and just walk on my side of the court and have my hitter walk on his side of the court,” Williams said.

The French Open starts two weeks after the U.S. Open ends. Williams was asked if she will fly to Europe for tournaments this autumn.

“I see myself doing it all, if it happens,” she said.

The Tokyo Olympics are too far away to make plans.

“We’ll have to kind of wait to see what happens in the fall,” she said. “One thing I have learned with this pandemic is don’t plan.”

MORE: Past U.S. Open champions get wild cards

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