By Jody Demling - Cardinal Authority

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming owner Anthony Bonomo is close friends with U of L basketball coach Rick Pitino

Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming owner Anthony Bonomo is close friends with U of L basketball coach Rick Pitino

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino was able to celebrate in the Kentucky Derby winners' circle on Saturday night at Churchill Downs. No, it wasn't Pitino's horse that won the race.

But the Hall of Fame coach said it was "just as good."

Always Dreaming, partly owner by Pitino's longtime close friend Anthony Bonomo, captured the roses and Pitino and his family were right there with the connections celebrating.

"I've been around Anthony a long time and he's the best person I've met in the last 50 years of my life," Pitino said. "He's the best. I am just so happy for him. I want to see him win more than anything else."

Pitino said he's not one to have security guards around him when he's at the race track but said he "had to find somebody to take me to the winners' circle," when the race was over.

"I said, I need somebody to take me down there when he wins," Pitino said. "When you have great friends and they are elated it is better than anything you can experience."

Bonomo is the only non-staff member that Pitino has ever allowed to sit on the bench during a game in his time at U of L. He was on the bench in 2014 when U of L played Indiana in Madison Square Gardens.

"I've never done that in my coaching career," Pitino said. "But I did it for him."

And now, Pitino went to the winners' circle with Bonomo.


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