Cowboy Cal, Texans owner Bob McNair's three-year-old colt in who some see shades of Barbaro, is making a well-documented run for charity at tomorrow's Kentucky Derby. McNair and his wife Janice will donate any and all earnings from the Derby to Houston's M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in memory of John Long, their family friend who fell victim to the disease 34 years ago at the age of three.
It was Long who, as a cancer patient at M.D. Anderson, came up with the name "Cowboy Cal," giving the moniker to the McNairs' then-13-year-old son, current Texans vice chairman D. Cal McNair.
Bob McNair has a long history of philanthropic service, and his decision to donate earnings from the Derby (which pays out nearly $1.5 million to the winner) to fight cancer is just the latest example of "his willingness to think of other before himself," writes Sports Illustrated.com's Jim Trotter.
As for Cowboy Cal's chances on Saturday, Dale Roberston of the Houston Chronicle reports that although the colt drew a difficult post position at 17 (the 20th post being the farthest outside and traditionally most difficult post from which to win), his ability to break well coming out of the gates gives him just as good a shot as any horse in a wide open field.
Tune into NBC at 4:00 p.m. CST for TV coverage of the Derby on Saturday.
- Nick Scurfield