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

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.

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