Michael Phelps & Bob Bowman have both had many, many successes in their careers. They had successes together, they’ve had successes apart, they had successes before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, and they’ve had plenty since.
But the defining moment for both of them was those 2008 Summer Olympics where Phelps became a household name in every corner of the world.
And so, it’s no surprise that the two drew from that experience to label their latest joint venture: a racehorse named “Water Cube.” The Water Cube was the nickname of the swimming arena built for those 2008 Olympic Games, where Phelps won 8 gold medals, and has since been converted into a water park.
He joins a roster that includes another thoroughbred named “By a Hundredth,” referring to Phelps’ improbable finish victory over Milorad Cavic in the 100 fly, where it looked like the Serbian had derailed history.
The names do sound a little “out there” as compared to the cliché horse names like “Blaze” or “Jellybean.” However, in reality they’re quite tame by racehorse standards, given the very specific rules for, and political statements made through, naming thoroughbred horses. For horses to be registered thoroughbreds (aka, what people buy expensive horses for), the Jockey Club holds them to strict standards – including forbidding the use of certain retired names. (Read more about the rules from Mental Floss here).
The two have also been part owners in past successful horses, though not exclusively, including Cerro – a Pimlico stakes winner. Their last two purchases have been under the moniker “Charm City Racing,” and both have expressed an avid love for horse racing coinciding with their native Baltimore: including the Pimlico track that hosts the Preakness – a part of horse racing’s triple crown.
Bowman revealed last year, in fact, that horse racing actually gave him a huge boost in his coaching career. In the early 90’s, Bowman went to California to work under the then revered, but now infamous, Paul Bergen. Bergen went into coaching semi-retirement and worked at training thoroughbreds. He says that the best opportunity he had to “pick (Bergen’s) brain” was at the horse stalls, and part of that meant mucking the stalls.
Bowman has been involved in owning horses longer than his trainee. He owned horses as early as 1996, and had a horse named “Vanderkaay” that won the Dancing Count Stakes at Laurel Park in 2008. That horse was named after the midwestern swim-family legend that is the Vanderkaays; Bowman coached portions of that Legacy during his time as the head coach at the University of Michigan.
By a Hundredth was bought for $55,000 in 2013 and is a colt offspring of Rockport Harbor. Rockport Harbor was a famed stud horse that produced offspring winning in excess of $13 million at the time it was euthanized in late 2013. Water Cube is another offspring of Rockport Harbor, and its mother is Internal Affair. Internal Affair is herself an offspring of Orientate – a horse with over $1.7 million in career earnings.