LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WMBF) – When Confidence Game takes off from the fourth gate at Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, it won’t just have a connection with one of the biggest sporting events of the year.
It’s connection span as far as 650 miles back to South Carolina.
“For us at this point to be in the derby is pretty unbelievable,” said Paul Lawson, a co-owner of the horse.
Lawson, who’s from Horry County, is attending the race at Churchhill Downs and spoke to WMBF News on Friday as he was preparing for the big day.
“It took me about three weeks to pick out my outfit. Some of it’s luck, I got my lucky tie, I’m wearing my favorite suit. There was a lot of choosing. I flew out yesterday morning, and my parents came over and my mom and my wife helped me finalize my outfit Wednesday night,” he said.
Lawson is part of Ocean Reef Racing, a horse syndicate with multiple owners. Established just three years ago, the group currently has 16 horses in training. He said he got into ownership last year after one of his college fraternity brothers, who is the head of the group, asked if he wanted in.
Now, they’re heading to the biggest stage in the sport.
“When I got here and we had all of our gear laid out for all the partners, and we were running around going to the back side, seeing the horse, being over at Churchill yesterday, it’s brought it all around and it’s been unreal. It’s an unreal experience. We’re just happy to be here, we really are,” he said.
When asked about Confidence Game, Lawson said the team really, well, confident about how things are going. The horse remains at 20-1 odds as of the morning line.
“He’s a real aggressive colt. He likes to run,” said Lawson. “When you ask him, he goes. They were having some trouble keeping him under control, because he wants to run, and that’s a good thing. We’re coming out of the 4-hole tomorrow, and as long as we break pretty good, and we’re sitting just off the lead, which is where we want to be, we really, really like our chances.”
As for the race itself, Lawson emphasized how difficult the road is to get to the marquee race of the Triple Crown.
“It’s a hard race to win, it’s the hardest race to get in. The schedule gets real tight because it’s only three-year-olds. And you have to have a lot of luck fall your way. There are some really, really good three-year-olds who never get to run in the derby, because it just doesn’t work out. So we’re grateful for the opportunity, we’re glad to be a part of a horse that can win it, and we’re just really excited,” he said.
You can catch NBC’s live coverage of the 149th Kentucky Derby on WMBF News starting at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.