Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw are best known as the radio broadcast team of the Brooklyn Nets, but their names could become part of Grade 1 Wood Memorial history if their namesake, Chrisandthecapper, were to upset New York's top prep race for the Kentucky Derby.
Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack will be Chrisandthecapper's first start against winners off an 11 1/2-length maiden victory in a sprint at the Big A on March 9.
Chrisandthecapper is owned by Ron Lombardi, the proprietor of SportsCare Institute, Inc., which manages physical and occupational therapy centers in New Jersey, New York, and Florida and is the official physical therapy provider for the Brooklyn Nets.
Lombardi, who has owned horses since 2008, was inspired to name a horse in honor of the broadcast duo during a conversation he had with Capstraw last year when the Nets, then based in New Jersey, were in Toronto to play the Raptors.
"I travel with the Nets a few times every season, and last year I was hanging out with Tim Capstraw," Lombardi said. "He asked me, 'When are you going to name a horse 'The Capper,' so I can watch him race when I go to Saratoga with my buddies?'
I said, 'I can't name a horse after you, but I can name a horse 'Chrisandthecapper.' And he said, 'You can do that?!'"
Chrisandthecapper was winless in three starts as a two-year-old, finishing fifth and second in a pair of maiden claiming races at Monmouth Park and finishing second again in a maiden special weight at Calder Race Course.
Lombardi and trainer Jason Servis elected to freshen Chrisandthecapper following the Calder race, and the colt made a huge jump forward in his three-year-old debut. The 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial will be his first start beyond six furlongs.
"We gave him three months off to let him mature," Lombardi said. "He's a May foal, so he's young. I think the horse shocked all of us (with his dominant maiden win)."
Lombardi said Carrino and Capstraw have been enthusiastically following Chrisandthecapper since the colt's debut race.
"They're so excited," Lombardi said. "When the horse ran his first race they went to Monmouth to watch him run. The Monmouth PR department took photos. They spend a lot of time talking about the horse. (The publicity) isn't something I really expected. The way the Nets have responded has been great. It's given racing some extra exposure."
One example of that exposure is when the YES Network showed the stretch run of Chrisandthecapper's maiden victory during a broadcast of a Nets game.
"(Carrino and Capstraw) have a thing going on with the YES broadcasters about how they don't have a horse named for them," Lombardi said.
Lombardi said he knows Chrisandthecapper will be a long shot in the Wood but is grateful to own a horse who has a chance of earning a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
"He just broke his maiden, but he did it in impressive fashion," Lombardi said. "His final time was two-fifths off the time in the stakes (the Fred "Cappy" Capossela) that day. If this was last year, I never would have had this opportunity, but with the new Kentucky Derby points system he still has a chance to get into the race. I could go my whole life and never have this opportunity again."