Eagles coach Andy Reid has a little time on his hands these days so, last Friday, he visited Fair Hill, Md., to see Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom. Brett Veach, an Eagles pro and college scout and longtime horse racing fan, suggested the coach make the trip to the training center, a horse racing Shangri-la.
"I'm really not into horse racing, but I'm into the sheer strength and athletic ability [of the horses]," Reid said. "It fascinates me."
The coach took in the scene and said: "I thought it was unbelievable. I could have stayed down there all day and just kept my ears open and my mouth shut and learned stuff. It was just a neat, neat deal."
Reid met Animal Kingdom's trainer, Graham Motion.
"Graham's unbelievable," Reid said. "It's kind of funny how many similarities there are [between] my job and his job. He's a sharp cookie."
Yesterday morning, Motion was asked about the strangest thing that had happened since the Derby. He said nothing really strange, but the best thing was Reid's visit.
"He was really interested," Motion said.
The trainer is a football fan.
"I'm not an Eagles fan, but I'm becoming one," Motion said. "He sent me a text yesterday to wish me luck, so that was pretty cool."
The trainer agreed their jobs were not all that different.
"I think he was surprised at the similarities, to be honest, except mine bite," Motion said.
Reid attended the Kentucky Derby several years ago. He could not remember which year, but he did remember the number of the horse he bet in the Derby.
"I'm not a gambler," Reid said. "Somebody asked me which horse I would want. I didn't study a thing. I go, 'Well, No. 5 is making a living for me in Donovan McNabb, so I'd probably take that green No. 5 right there.' Sonofagun won."
The only No. 5 to win the Derby since McNabb came to the Eagles was War Emblem in 2002. He got loose on the lead, and none of the other 17 horses could catch him.
Like Animal Kingdom, War Emblem was 20-1 when he won the Derby. War Emblem went on to the win the Preakness. Animal Kingdom will get his chance at the Preakness on Saturday. He will be No. 11. *