Former Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino is vowing not to attend this year's Longines Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs even though his filly, Coach Rocks, figures to be among the starters.
Coach Rocks, a daughter of Oxbow , overtook favored Take Charge Paula to win the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) at Gulfstream Park March 31, earning 100 qualifying points toward the Kentucky Oaks.
Pitino was fired as Louisville coach Oct. 16 following a federal investigation into fraud claims against the Cardinals basketball program. He then told people he would never return to Kentucky.
"I'm not going to go to Kentucky for the Oaks, but my partners are," Pitino said in the winner's circle. "But I feel absolutely awesome.
"I will not (go to Churchill Downs)," he added, "unless (chairman) David Grissom and the pizza guy, Papa John (Schnatter), retire from the (university's) board of trustees. Then, I'll be there."
Coach Rocks is owned by Roddy Valente, RAP Racing (Pitino) and West Point Thoroughbreds. She was purchased by trainer Dale Romans for $95,000 from Eddie Woods' consignment to the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Florida select 2-year-olds in training sale.
Valente wasn't convinced Pitino will pass up the Oaks.
"He's going to Churchill Downs, believe me," Valente said. "He said he was never going back to Kentucky after he lost the job. He can throw that right out the door right now. He'll be there with me."