LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 02: The field competes during the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
This weekend’s running of the 137th Kentucky Derby will bring mint juleps, crazy hats and a huge payload for one horse owner.
The Wizards’ Rashard Lewis knows all about that excitement. In 2009, a colt co-owned by Lewis named Join in the Dance was a contender in the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby.
When a childhood friend, Jake Ballis, approached him to get involved in horse racing, Lewis liked the idea. They purchased the horse for $250,000.
"I said 'Why not?' I can't ride them, but it's been a lot of fun,” he told the Orlando Sentinel in 2009. “It's a hobby, but it's also an investment. After he won his first race, we were offered a million dollars for the horse, but we said no.''
The horse ran at 50-1 odds and finished seventh, but it was the start of a new business for Lewis and a respectable career for the young equine. Since then, he and his partners have added two more horses to their stable and Join in the Dance is still running.
Lewis' connections to the Derby didn’t end with that run in 2009. Join in the Dance is trained by Todd Pletcher, who also trained last year’s Derby winner Super Saver and trains Uncle Mo, a contender this weekend.