MVP WANNABE

Ken Hoffman: Horse named after Astros superstar finishes ... second

Jose Altuve has had a banner year. So how did his namesake do in a recent horse race? Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Sports radio host Barry Laminack won the annual Great Celebrity Camel Race on January 19 at Sam Houston Race Park. Laminack, who moonlights as a standup comic, hosts the 1-4 pm talkfest The Usual Suspects with Joel Blank on ESPN 97.5 FM. By bouncing across the finish line first, Laminack won $500 for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Second place went to Channel 26 anchor Melissa Wilson. Two other entrants reportedly chickened out and refuse to board the spittin’ beasts. There’s a word for people like that: smart.

“I was scared to death,” Laminack says. “I felt like I was going to fly out of the saddle a few times.”

Saddle?

“It was more like a roll cage, a u-shaped bar. They told me I could hold on to the hair on the camel’s hump, but I felt that would only make him angrier. He was freaking out in the starting gate.

“Between my boys hitting the hump, and my rear end hitting his back, it felt like I was in a minor car wreck. My butt and lower back were battered. Two days later, my arms, back, butt, and knees were still hurting. The next time I ride a camel I’m bringing a hemorrhoid pillow to sit on.”

Meet Altuveatbat

That same night, a horse named Altuveatbat finished second in the fourth race, paying $5.20 and $3.40. The 3-year-old colt won $1,340 for his owner. It was the horse’s professional debut.
  
It’s been a big year for Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. He wins his third batting title, cops the Most Valuable Player award, the Astros take the World Series, and now a horse named after him finishes second at Sam Houston Race Park.

Altuveatbat — one word. How? Why?

“I named him,” says Sabina Pish. “My husband trains thoroughbred horses and the horse’s owner, Joey K. Davis, asked us to come up with a name. I caught ‘Astros Fever’ during the World Series, and fell in love with Jose Altuve and his story. I wanted to pay homage to Mr. Altuve.”

Altuveatbat was born March 15, 2015. His dad is a stallion named Etesaal; mom is Maddie’s Pride. Get this, Altuveatbat’s grandfather is named Grand Slam. Second base, second place. It’s all coming together now.

But why not name the horse just plain “Jose Altuve?”

“It’s very hard to get celebrity names approved by the Jockey Club, the registry that approves names for horses,” Pish says. “If I had named him ‘Altuve at Bat,’ it probably would have been rejected. I took a chance with ‘Altuveatbat’ and they approved it.”

That’s a change in the rules. Back when, owners had free rein on naming horses after celebrities.

Here’s a sports trivia question: Chris Evert is in the hall of fame for two sports, can you name them? Answer: horse racing and tennis.

Patriot Paws/Facebook

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

It's that time of year: Houston Ballet's packed and popular Nutcracker Market will be held Thursday, November 14, through Sunday, November 17, at NRG Center with more than 100,000 shoppers expected to scoop up everything "Christmasy" that can fit under a tree, down a chimney, on a dinner table or you can put a bow on it.

About 260 merchants, including 23 rookie booths, will kick back 11 percent of their sales toward the Houston Ballet Foundation. When you add in all the admission money, thousands of Houston area students will get a valuable lesson in the arts.

As always, all roads will lead to booth 920, to the back and to the right in NRG Center, where the Donne Di Domani ladies will be selling their legendary marinara sauce for the 28th year. Donne Di Domani means "Women of Tomorrow" in Italian, or "Spaghetti Sauce Ladies" in plain English.

The sauce is still $10 a bottle, credit cards accepted. If you buy a 12-bottle case for $120, they'll throw in a dozen recipe cards guaranteed to please the family, including your uncle who comes to your house each Christmas and does nothing but complain about your cooking.

Here's why I love writing about these ladies. Sure their sauce is amazing. Consider this a warning: If you wait till Sunday to buy the sauce, you'll be the little piggy who had none. But the real story is what Donne Di Domani does with their profits — we're talking millions here. Yeah, they sell a lot of sauce.

Each year, after the market closes and they total up the profits, the ladies decide which charities they'll support. It's a long list of organizations such as Shelter for Cancer Families, Casa Juan Diego, Triumph Over Kid Cancer, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, the Carmelite Nuns of New Caney, and many more.

One year, when I was in the hospital getting my X-rays touched up, I heard that Sister Angel and the Carmelite Nuns said a prayer for me. Wrong church, wrong pew, but I'll take it.

Pawsing for our heroes
The charities may change, but the ladies will always support an organization dedicated to helping veterans and their families. Last year the charity was Folded Flag, which lends a hand to widows and children of soldiers killed in the line of duty.

In recent years, Donne Di Domani sponsored service dogs trained by Patriot Paws in Rockwell, Texas. I've been to Rockwell and seen how these remarkable dogs help wounded veterans get through their day. It costs $30,000 to train a dog, and the dogs are given free to vets who need them. Donne Di Domani so far has sponsored four Patriot Paws dogs:

"Hoffy," who was named after me (best honor I ever received), didn't make the grade. His mind wandered and he didn't concentrate on his studies. (The acorn sure didn't fall far from the tree.)

Continue on CultureMap to find out what happened to "Hoffy."

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome