Charley Trippi is back in the news.
No, the former University of Georgia halfback isn't making a late-life comeback on the football field. But Aiken's Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell has a possible Kentucky Derby horse named Trippi, in honor of the versatile athlete of the 1940s.
"I talked to Cot Campbell," Charley Trippi, age 78, said Friday from his home in Athens, Ga. "He just decided to use my name for the horse. There wasn't much dialogue after that. I just told (Campbell) to make him a winner. And he has been winning. I'm proud of that horse."
Trippi won his first race on Jan. 29 at Gulfstream Park in Miami. He followed that with a Grade III Swale Stakes win on March 11 at Gulfstream, moving into consideration for the Kentucky Derby on May 6 in Louisville, Ky. He will race again April 8 in the Grade III Flamingo Stakes, again at Gulfstream. Campbell said if Trippi can run a longer distance successfully there, one mile and one-eighth, then Louisville may be the next stop.
Campbell named the horse, without conferring with Charley Trippi, after buying the colt of End Sweep last spring at a 2-year-old sale. He called Charley Trippi twice and wrote him earlier this year after the horse's first win to alert him about the naming.
"I thought it was a perfect name for a colt sired by End Sweep," Campbell said on Friday. "If there was anybody proficient at the end sweep, it was Charley Trippi.
"It was too natural a name. And I love short, snappy names like that."
In the 1940s, when Campbell was in prep school in Rome, Ga., he watched the All-American collegiate career of Charley Trippi closely. When Campbell moved to Chicago in the late '40s and early '50s, Charley Trippi was a star back with the NFL's Chicago Cardinals, who won the 1947 NFL title.
It is not the first time Campbell has named a horse after an athlete. He had Nagurski, after the famous football player Bronco Nagurski; Dempsey, after boxer Jack Dempsey; and Babe Ruth, after the legendary baseball player.
But this horse could have the most success. Should Trippi, the horse, reach Churchill Downs, then Trippi, the man, may be invited.
"I'd love him to be there, absolutely," Campbell said. "It would be fun to have him there."