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JOCKEY CLUB NOTES

Contact: John Cooney (859-224-2714)

Thoroughbred name inspires meeting with Daytona 500 winner

Greg and Donna Griffith have an affinity for horsepower, both equine and automotive. When not working with the 75 Thoroughbreds they breed, break and train at their 60-acre D & G Thoroughbreds, Inc. in Ocala, Fla., they often are following NASCAR on television or in person at one of its stops throughout the Southeast.

The Griffiths have combined their passion for both sports in a unique way by naming some of their young Thoroughbreds in tribute to their favorite NASCAR drivers.

What began as a simple gesture will come full circle on Feb. 10 in Daytona, Fla., when the Griffiths meet with Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, whom they've honored with a two-year-old Thoroughbred colt named Sherrillsfordposse.

Waltrip, who drives car #15, lives in Sherrills Ford, N.C. and his crew is known as the Sherrills Ford Posse.

"My husband's been a NASCAR fan for 30 years but I never understood why we always had to rush home on Sundays," said Donna. "I had never been to a NASCAR race until two years ago when Michael Waltrip won the Daytona 500 and I got caught up in the whole atmosphere. I liked Michael Waltrip's personality and I was hooked."

A walk down the Griffith's shedrow is like a walk down pit road. Among Sherrillsfordposse's stablemates are:

  • Harvick - a three-year-old colt named for Kevin Harvick (car #29)
  • J. Gordon - a three-year-old colt named for Jeff Gordon (car #24)
  • Dirtymoposse - a two-year-old colt named for the close circle of friends of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (car #8)
  • Steveneedsaposse - a three-year-old colt named for Steve Park (car #1), who doesn't yet have a posse
  • Coddle Creek - a two-year-old filly named for the road in Mooresville, N.C. on which the Dale Earnhardt Incorporated headquarters is located

The seeds for the meeting with Waltrip actually were planted last May when the Griffiths submitted a name application for Dirtymoposse to The Jockey Club's Registry in Lexington, Ky.

Little did they know at the time that two Registry employees -- Betsy Given and Amy Cottrell -- had NASCAR ties. One of Given's good friends, Robyn Snell, writes for NASCAR-oriented web sites while Cottrell is an avid fan who attends several races each year.

Shortly after The Jockey Club granted the name (after verifying its meaning and legal status), Given and Cottrell notified Snell, who wrote an article about the equine Dirtymoposse for Dalejrpitstop.com. A second article by Snell about Dirtymoposse and his high-octane stablemates was later published on TeamRacin.com.

Appreciative of the Griffith's efforts, Waltrip, through his office staff, arranged to meet the couple in what should be an educational experience for both.

"He (Michael Waltrip) has taken an interest in Sherrillsfordposse and has asked for pictures and progress reports," said Donna. "He'd like to witness all the stages and procedures a horse goes through in preparation for a racing career."

Only time will tell if Sherrillsfordposse and his mates thunder down the stretch like their NASCAR counterparts but, in an interesting coincidence, Griffith has noticed some of the Thoroughbreds taking on the personality of their human namesakes.

"Dirtymoposse has that cocky little wanna-go attitude that you like in a racehorse while Steveneedsaposse is all business on the track and a big teddy bear off of it," she said.

But Sherrillsfordposse has always been a personal favorite of Donna's. "He has a really neat personality," she said. "He was fun to watch growing up because he was a clown in the field and would get the all the horses in the paddock bucking and playing."

With a little luck, these four-legged racers will make their four-wheeled brethren proud by being on the throttle and in the winner's circle when they start their respective racing careers later this year or early next year.

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