All equine photos by Eclipse Sportswire unless otherwise noted.
For some people, birthdays are one of the most important pieces of information they can have about celebrities and their favorite racehorses.
But what happens when Belmont Stakes contenders and Hollywood birthdays intersect? It allows us to connect some of the most famous people in the world with the Belmont ontenders with whom they share a birthday.
1) California Chrome and Dr. Dre – Feb. 18
Dr. Dre photo by WikiMedia Commons/Commondr3ads
It seems fitting that Dr. Dre, who has overseen the careers of influential rappers such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem, shares a birthday with California Chrome, who has brought racing back to the mainstream public with his wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. It remains to be seen if California Chrome makes as big of an impact on racing as Dr. Dre has made on the rap music genre, but if he wins the Triple Crown it’s safe to say he’ll share something else in common with Dr. Dre … being ranked in a “100 Greatest of All-Time” list.
2) Commanding Curve and Maurice Jones-Drew – March 23
Maurice Jones-Drew photo by WikiMedia Commons/JeffKern
Commanding Curve still has a lot to accomplish to catch up to birthday twin Maurice Jones-Drew, who has been named to the NFL Pro Bowl team three times. But while Commanding Curve doesn’t have quite the résumé in his sport that Jones-Drew does in football, the colt has proven that he has the talent to make a splash in racing. A last-minute entrant into the Kentucky Derby, he was the horse closest to California Chrome at the finish and looks to try and upset Chrome’s Triple Crown bid in the Belmont after skipping the Preakness.
3) Commissioner and Russell Crowe – April 7
Commissioner photo by Coglinese Photos/Russell Crowe photo by WikiMedia Commons/Danrok
Russell Crowe and Commissioner have more in common than one may think when looking at the two. Like Russell Crowe, Commissioner was a “Gladiator” in the spring prep races for his connections, running four races from January to April at three different tracks in three different states. Also like Crowe, he backed up his “Gladiator” campaign with a credible performance in the Peter Pan, where he finished second to Tonalist.
4) Kid Cruz and Richard Sherman – March 30
Photo of Kid Cruz by Jim McCue/Photo of Richard Sherman by WikiMedia Commons/MarkSamia
If Kid Cruz pulls off an upset in the Belmont Stakes, he probably won’t be as vocal about his perceived lack of respect as Richard Sherman after this year’s NFC Championship game. However, the colt may feel a little lack of respect if he does pull off the win after winning two stakes races before his eighth-place finish in the Preakness Stakes, which his been his only off-the-board performance to date when running on dirt.
5) Matterhorn and Cristiano Ronaldo – Feb. 7
Matterhorn photo by NYRA/Coglinese Photos/Cristiano Ronaldo photo by WikiCommons/FannySchertzer
Bought for $625,000 at a 2-year-olds in training sale, Matterhorn doesn’t quite match the multi-million dollar deal Manchester United signed Cristiano Ronaldo to in 2003 however the “purchase” was big for both athletes as Matterhorn was bought by the Coolmore Stud racing empire from that 2-year-old in training sale. But like Ronaldo’s trade to Real Madrid later in his career, Matterhorn will be representing someone else in the Belmont Stakes as he was recently privately sold to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.
6) Matuszak and Zachary Gordon – Feb. 15
Photo of Zachard Gordon by IMdB
An up-and-coming actor, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” star Zachary Gordon shares his rising star title with Matuszak, a multiple stakes-placed Bill Mott trainee. Neither star would be comfortable telling you that they’ve made it to the top in his respective industry but both show talent for the years to come.
7) Medal Count and Wes Welker - May 1
Photo of Wes Welker by WikiMedia Commons/JeffreyBeall
While Medal Count and Wes Welker don’t seem like they’d have a lot in common with Medal Count selling in the first session (first round) of Keeneland’s September yearling sale and Wes Welker signing as an undrafted free agent, it is easy to see the similarities upon second glance. Of course, both love racing with Welker even sharing the joy (and Benjamins) with fans at the Derby after winning a huge bet. Finally, both have shown that they refuse to give up. Welker proved himself an elite football player, eventually signing a big free agent contract with the Denver Broncos after performing at an elite level with the New England Patriots. Medal Count proved that he belonged in the Kentucky Derby when running second in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes only eight days after winning the Transylvania Stakes.
8) Ride On Curlin and John McEnroe – Feb. 16
Photo of Jon McEnroe by WikiMedia Commons/EdwinMartinez
John McEnroe was known as a bit of a hot head during his tennis career and Ride On Curlin also has the reputation of being quite feisty, so it seems as though being born on Feb. 16 might add a little spice to one’s temperament. Can’t you just imagine Ride On Curlin yelling “You cannot be serious!” and “Are you kidding me?!” each time he finishes second or third in stakes races.
9) Samraat and Jon Cryer – April 16
Photo of Jon Cryer by WikiMedia Commons/Angela George
The two New York-breds put everything into their roles with actor Jon Cryer devoting himself to roles in “Pretty in Pink” and “Two and a Half Men” and Samraat battling for every placing he can get in races. Although, if Samraat had a role in “Two and a Half Men,” he’d probably play Cryer’s confident older brother Charlie Harper.
10) Social Inclusion and Tim McGraw – May 1
Photo of Tim McGraw by WikiMedia Commons
In addition to sharing a birthday with fellow Belmont Stakes contender Medal Count, Social Inclusion also shares the day with Tim McGraw. Just like McGraw, Social Inclusion is best known for the talent he flashed in his early races but is still recognized as a gifted performer who can put on a great show. And for those who like good-looking horses and people … both are definitely easy on the eyes.
11) Tonalist and Mike Richards – Feb. 11
Photo of Tonalist by NYRA/Susie Raisher/Photo of Mike Richard by WIkiMedia Commons/Michael Miller
Mike Richards has proven to be a heck of a hockey player with a Stanley Cup title to his name, and Tonalist is quickly working toward becoming a racing star. The two got their starts in the “big leagues” only about two hours away from each other with Richards making his leap to the National Hockey League with the Philadelphia Flyers and Tonalist running in, and winning, his first graded stakes race at Belmont Park.
12) Wicked Strong and David Freese – April 28
Photo of David Freese by WikiMedia Commons/UCinternational
Both Wicked Strong and David Freese have been the talk of the town, stepping into the spotlight quickly after getting their chance at the top level of their respective sports. Freese played an important role in the St. Louis Cardinals’ 2011 World Series title run, only two years after moving up to the Cardinals’ line-up from their minor league system. While racing doesn’t have an official minor league program, Wicked Strong took his chance at the big leagues and ran with it (no pun intended) when he won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes in his first attempt at the highest level of the sport. No one can deny that both Wicked Strong and David Freese stepped up and did what they needed to when the spotlight was on them.