Lakers Gasol, Bryant Buy Horse at Charity

Bidding war between basketball stars ends up with both owning a piece.

Social media sites were buzzing April 25 with the news that Los Angeles Laker stars Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol purchased their first Thoroughbred.

“How exciting is that?,” said Doug O’Neill, who has trained the horse they bought into, Siempre Mio, for all five of his starts and will continue to handle the 4-year-old gelding for the new partnership.

O'Neill related what happened.

“Mark Verge donated a quarter of Siempre Mio to the Laker Foundation and he’s friends with Jeanie Buss, who invited us to the charity dinner. Pau Gasol bid first, but then he and Kobe got into a little bit of a bidding war. Kobe won the bidding at $8,000. Afterwards, Mark went up to Pau and asked him if he wanted to buy into the horse, too, and pretty soon Mike Sullivan also ended up buying in. So they wound up raising $24,000 for the charity and we got some new people into the game. This should be a lot of fun.

“Part of the deal is that the new owners pay no bills, so these guys get the experience of owning the horse and not the burden of patience and bills,” O’Neill added. “I talked to Jeanie Buss about making Laker silks and she said ‘just make them, and we’ll use them as long as the legal team passes them. We’re going to design kind of Laker jersey silks.”

“Pau was really excited. He told me he loves horses and it was just a matter of time before he bought a race horse. Kobe can’t wait to see him run, barring playoff conflicts. I don’t have anything picked out for him yet, but there will probably be a race for him in the second (condition) book.”

Siempre Mio, a son of Dixie Union out of St. Kilda, has won twice and finished second once. The bay won his most recent start March 31, capturing a $25,000 claimer at Santa Anita Park.