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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

World champion wins doping case citing bodily fluids from boyfriend

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A world champion canoeist won a doping case Monday after persuading a tribunal that her positive test was caused by bodily fluid contamination from her boyfriend.

The International Canoe Federation (ICF) ended its investigation into 11-time world champion Laurence Vincent Lapointe, who tested positive for a steroid-like substance in July. She faced a four-year ban and could have missed her event’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games.

The Canadian canoe sprint racer and her lawyer detailed in a news program that laboratory analysis of hair from her then-boyfriend showed he was likely responsible for a tiny presence of ligandrol in her doping sample.

“The ICF has accepted Ms. Vincent Lapointe’s evidence which supports that she was the victim of third-party contamination,” the governing body said in a statement, clearing her to return to competition.

The legal debate is similar to tennis player Richard Gasquet’s 2009 acquittal in the “cocaine kiss” case. The Court of Arbitration for Sport accepted Gasquet’s defense that kissing a woman who had taken cocaine in a Miami nightclub, after he had withdrawn injured from a tournament, caused his positive test.

The 27-year-old Vincent Lapointe was provisionally suspended for almost six months and missed the 2019 World Championships, which was a key qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics. American 17-year-old Nevin Harrison won the 200m world title in her absence.

She can still qualify for the Olympic debut of women’s canoe sprint events with victory at a World Cup event in May in Germany.

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U.S. women’s soccer team begins Olympic qualifying, which should rest on one match

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The U.S. women’s soccer team has never been in danger in Olympic qualifying, but that doesn’t change this fact: It must win on Feb. 7 to reach the Tokyo Games.

The CONCACAF tournament begins Tuesday in Houston, where the world champion Americans face world No. 72 Haiti. The last two group games are against No. 68 Panama on Friday and No. 37 Costa Rica on Feb. 3. The top two nations from the group advance to Feb. 7 semifinals.

The U.S. roster, with 18 of its 20 players coming from the 2019 World Cup team, is here.

Since CONCACAF qualifies two nations to the Olympics, the semifinals are the deciding games.

Should the U.S. win its group, it would face the runner-up from the other group in a winner-goes-to-Tokyo match. The other group (world ranking):

Canada (8)
Mexico (37)
Jamaica (53)
St. Kitts and Nevis (127)

Chaos could result in the unlikely event that either the U.S. or Canada finishes second in its group, and the two North American powers play a semifinal.

The U.S. is undefeated in Olympic qualifying history, since the tournament format began in 2004 — 15-0 with a goal differential of 88-1 (not counting matches played once they’ve already clinched qualification). The lone goal allowed came in a group-stage match in 2008, when the U.S. was already assured a spot in the semifinals.

Still, the U.S. knows the feeling of one poor outing in an important match. In 2010, it lost to Mexico in a winner-to-the-World Cup match. The U.S. was forced to win a last-chance, home-and-home playoff against a UEFA team — Italy — for the last spot in the World Cup.

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