CRAWFORD | Itsaknockout lands a haymaker with boxing sponsorship - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Itsaknockout lands a haymaker with boxing sponsorship deal before Derby

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WDRB photo. WDRB photo.
Jack Wolf. WDRB photo. Jack Wolf. WDRB photo.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — What's in a name? Money, for one thing. Especially if you have a Kentucky Derby starter named “Itsaknockout” who will go to post just hours ahead of the richest boxing match of all time.

The Louisville-based Starlight Racing-owned colt had one of his more disappointing races of the season, beaten 21 lengths by his Todd Pletcher-trained stablemate Materiality in the Florida Derby last time out.

But Pletcher says the colt has trained well in advance of the Derby, and for his owners, circumstances made running him in the race a marketing no-brainer. He may face long odds in the race, but his sponsorship deal guarantees he'll get plenty of pre-race attention.

Jack Wolf, founder and co-managing partner of Starlight Racing, reached out to some partners in Starlight about using the colt's name to strike some kind of sponsorship with promoters for the welterweight fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, which will take place in Las Vegas on May 2 with a purse expected to be in excess of $200 million.

The result of those discussions could be seen draped over Itsaknockout's back after Friday's morning works, a blanket that bears the names Mayweather and Pacquiao and the message “live on pay-per-view.”

Wolf chuckled about it on the backside at Churchill Downs.

“I'm the luckiest guy going,” he said. “I'd rather be lucky than good.”

Terms of the marketing deal have not been disclosed. In addition to the blanket, jockey Luis Saez will wear pants that have “Mayweather” on one leg and “Pacquiao” on the other.

Not bad for a colt whose name was a bit of a mystery until recently. According to Drew Deener, morning host for Louisville's ESPN 680 AM, a bunch of the owners were having dinner after Itsaknockout won the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park and started talking about his name.

“Nobody knew how he got the name,” Deener said. “It was funny, because everyone was asking, ‘Did you name him? I didn't name him, did you?'”

The answer to the name came from Wolf, who said his wife Laurie named him “at the last minute” because she thought the name of his sire, “Lemon Drop Kid,” sounded like a boxer's nickname.

Wolf said he hasn't been a huge fan of boxing, “But I am now. . . . What's the line on that? Is Mayweather favored? I don't know.”

The high definition pay-per-view price tag on the fight is $100 million. Wolf says he expects to have some people over to watch after the Derby.

And thanks to a hastily but fortuitously picked name, he'll have a lot more eyes on his colt when it goes to post. Another reminder that you never know what will draw the public's attention on Derby Day — or why.

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