Submitted by Jerry Antonucci on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Del Mar: Former NFL star Faulk hopes Infinite Magic runs as well as him
DEL MAR, Calif. – Marshall Faulk has gone from the Colts to a colt. One of the greatest running backs in the history of the National Football League, first with the Indianapolis Colts and then the St. Louis Rams, Faulk is one of the owners of Infinite Magic, who is scheduled to run Sunday in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby. If Infinite Magic is half as good at racing as Faulk was at football, this investment will be a touchdown.
“This is the only horse I have at the moment, and I’m looking forward to seeing him run for the first time in person,” Faulk said in a telephone interview this week. “The timing works out well because this will be my last free Sunday for a while.”
Faulk, 40, is now a broadcaster with the NFL Network, and with the season about to start, his workload is about to go into a hurry-up offense. The on-air discussion at work always focuses around Xs and Os, but off air, Faulk has been surrounded by talk of horses and the Kentucky Derby. His co-workers include Steve Mariucci, the former coach of the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers, whom Faulk said has had riding horses for his daughters – “He told me how expensive it is,” Faulk said – and Randy Moss, a racing analyst for NBC.
“He and I have had several conversations about what he does, how much fun it is,” Faulk said.
Faulk finally made the leap to horse ownership through a friend who already was an investor with Team Valor, the syndicate that owns Infinite Magic.
Infinite Magic, a Kentucky-bred colt by More Than Ready, began his career in Great Britain, then was brought to the United States this spring with designs on the Belmont Stakes. After an allowance win on turf at Keeneland in April, he tried dirt for the first time in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on May 11 but finished last.
Infinite Magic went back to turf, where he finished sixth in the Hill Prince Stakes at Belmont on June 15 before a victory at Arlington on July 13 in the American Derby, his final prep for the Del Mar Derby. He is trained by Rick Mettee.
“I’m excited about the race,” Faulk said. “It’s all about having a winner. I know he’s a good horse because we wouldn’t be having this conversation if he was a dud.”
Faulk said he had an appreciation for horses beginning in his youth, but always from the outside looking in. He grew up in New Orleans, near Fair Grounds. “I’d ride my bike by the track to see them run, but I couldn’t afford to go in,” he said.
Faulk went to college at San Diego State, less than a half-hour’s drive from Del Mar, but never went to the races here, though he said he’d often see horses training while going on pleasure drives through nearby Rancho Santa Fe.
In the NFL, Faulk had a brilliant career. In 12 years with the Colts and Rams, he had seven years in which he rushed for at least 1,000 yards, was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, and won a Super Bowl with the Rams. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011, his first year of eligibility.
Faulk’s success on the field translated to rich contracts while playing, giving Faulk the wherewithal to try his luck at racing.
“I’m expecting good things to happen,” he said. “My friends will tell you I’m a very, very lucky guy. I want to see how my luck is with horses. This is all new. It’s fun. I enjoy it.”
“This is his first horse, and he’s off to the races,” said Barry Irwin, chief executive of Team Valor.
Since retiring from football, Faulk said he uses twice-weekly golf matches as a way to get his competitive juices flowing. Other sports personalities who have owned horses have said racing is an outlet for staying competitive. Faulk is anxious to find out if it will be the same for him.
“Ask me when I’m sitting there on Sunday,” Faulk said. “I’ll know better then. If your palms start getting sweaty, that’s when you know it does it for you.”