- The Washington Times - Friday, May 5, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A week after the NFL team he owns selected first in the draft and surprised — and angered — its fans by choosing Mario Williams over Reggie Bush, Bob McNair hopes the horse he owns finishes first in the Kentucky Derby.

Bob and John (12-1), winner of the Wood Memorial in his last start, will start from the No. 7 post in tomorrow’s Derby.

McNair has owned four previous Derby horses, including Congaree, who finished third in 2001. McNair’s Stonerside Stable bred — but did not own — 2000 Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus.

McNair started Stonerside in 1994 and the farm in Paris, Ky., now covers 1,500 acres. Stonerside has 71 horses in training and since it also breeds most of its runners, it has five stallions and 97 mares on the farm.

When he started Stonerside, McNair bought his first 35 mares from Jack Kent Cooke’s Elmendorf Farm.

Bob and John is 3-for-4 this year and 4-for-9 lifetime.

“This year has been a little different because we’ve seen this all along as being our Derby horse,” McNair said. “[Trainer] Bob [Baffert] identified him last year and he’s continued progress all along. I think we feel a lot better about Bob and John than we did about Congaree because Congaree was so fast, he was hard to rate. You get in these longer races and if you can’t get the horse to rate, they’re not going to be able to finish the race.”

The colt is named after McNair and John Adger, McNair’s right-hand man at Stonerside.

“We don’t know if he’s good enough to win or not, but it certainly sounds like he’s going to be at his best and we feel like we’ve got a very good chance,” McNair said. “It’s very exciting for us and I know Bob Baffert’s more excited than I’ve ever seen him with any of the horses that we’ve had with him so I think that’s a good sign.”

McNair said the NFL Draft and Kentucky Derby generate different emotions.

“It’s a different process because last week, it was an important decision, but it was one that we controlled,” he said. “Now we’re going into a situation in which something very important is going to happen, but we’re not the decision maker.”

Rooting for Lewis

The racing world lost a giant in February when longtime thoroughbred owner Bob Lewis died of heart failure. But his legacy is being carried on at the Derby by his widow, Beverly. The Lewis-owned Point Determined will run tomorrow.

Bob and Beverly Lewis won the Derby in 1997 with Silver Charm and 1999 with Charismatic.

Said D. Wayne Lukas, who trained Charismatic: Lewis was “an extraordinary man and somebody you loved having success with. I’m really pulling for Beverly to win this race. Bob’s one that we won’t replace. He really had a passion for this game.”

Rare company

Showing Up (20-1) is 3-for-3 lifetime and didn’t race until mid-February. He will become only the ninth horse since 1900 to have only three career starts entering the Derby. Regret won in 1915, but since then, none of the runners have finished better than 10th.

In 1999, Desert Hero and Valhol came to the Derby with only three career starts and finished 13th and 15th, respectively.

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