, Salem, MA

Local News

April 14, 2014

Locally owned horse, named for marathon, headed to Derby

Wicked Strong won Wood Memorial to qualify

BEVERLY — “Park the car in Harvard Yard” might not be the most popular phrase related to a Boston accent much longer.

It’s getting passed at the turn by “wicked” — as in Wicked Strong, a locally owned thoroughbred that has qualified for the Kentucky Derby and is quickly becoming the talk of the horse-racing community.

Beverly’s Centennial Farms owns Wicked Strong, a colt that Farms President Don Little Jr. and his wife renamed in honor of the Boston Marathon tragedies a year ago. Initially, the couple was hoping to call him Boston Strong, but that name was already taken by another horse.

Little’s wife, Holly, was at a Bruins game with team principal Charlie Jacobs and his wife, Kim, when they came up with the idea to use “wicked” instead.

“It was the second night after the marathon, and I think it was Kim that came up with it initially. We didn’t want it to be promotional or anything like that. It was a result of what was going on in the city,” Little said.

“From what we’d seen early in the training, we knew he could be a good horse. He was a tough guy, and that represented the city.”

The rest has been history for Centennial Farms, which has never sent a horse to the Kentucky Derby previously. Wicked Strong qualified by winning the Wood Memorial at the Aqueduct in New York; he was a 9-1 underdog, yet won by 31/2 lengths.

The owners are donating 1 percent of Wicked Strong’s earnings to the One Fund.

The horse was third in the point standings for Kentucky, which takes place May 3. There were two races over the weekend that could change the standings a bit, Little said, but Wicked Strong has punched his ticket to the Bluegrass State.

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