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The Wings' Horseman

Monday, 11.7.2011 / 4:00 PM ET
By Bill Roose - DetroitRedWings.com / The Wheel Deal
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Red Wings defenseman Mike Commodore once was
part-owner of Valkyrie Missile (above), a thoroughbred race horse.
Most players try to relax when they return home after a morning skate. For some that means picking up their kids from school, or for the young guys without family responsibilities that could mean heading to the grocery store to stock up for the week.

For Mike Commodore, relaxation last Saturday meant watching a dozen or so Breeders’ Cup horse races on TV from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Ever since the Red Wings’ defenseman was invited to Churchill Downs to watch Big Brown claim the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby from the 20th starting gate, Commodore was hooked.

“When I got traded to Ottawa there, and we lost out to Pittsburgh, I went back to Carolina – that’s where my stuff was – packed my stuff up,” said Commodore, who’s celebrating his 32nd birthday today. “I didn’t have a contract, I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t know anything. I was just kind of sitting there for a few days and a buddy of mine called and said, ‘What are you doing this weekend?’ Want to go to the Kentucky Derby?’ I was like, ‘Sure, I might as well. I’ve got nothing else going on.’ ”

Commodore had so much fun at the Derby that horse-racing, you can say, is now in his blood.

“I bought a suit, one of those Seersucker suits, and went to the Kentucky Derby with a group through Little Red Feather Racing, who got us the tickets,” he said. “There were a couple of hockey guys: Barret Jackman was there, Ryan Johnson who was here with us at camp, was there. A couple of NFL football players were there. We had like 15 guys there and just had a blast.

“Then the company said, ‘It seems like you’re having fun, and if you’re ever interested in getting involved, just let us know.’ I really didn’t think too much of it, then I started watching a little bit more. I didn’t want to put a whole lot of money into it, I mean it’s horse racing, you know what I mean? I don’t know that much about it. But I do know that getting a good horse is like winning the lottery.”

Commodore has been part-owner of several different horses over the last 3 ½ years, and as many as a half dozen horses at one time, including a gelding named Valkyrie Missile and a filly named Killagram.

Valkyrie Missile was sold before training camp, and Killagram suffered a life-threatening injury and had to be euthanized.

“She ended up hurting herself and we had to put her down, which was awful,” Commodore said. “It was her pelvis. She had a minor surgery, and she woke up in the middle of the night. I don’t know what the hell happened. But she woke up, and moved around and broke her pelvis. It was devastating.”

While he’d love to have a horse in the Running of the Roses, Commodore said he’s in it more for the entertainment value than an investment.

“First and foremost, it’s for fun,” he said. “I don’t look at these races like I’m making money off of them. I like when my horses win, I like collecting checks. I’d like to learn more about the sport and become more knowledgeable. I have a lot to learn. I still, when I go to the track, and get the program, I’m better than I was, but there’s still a lot of stuff on that sheet that I have absolutely no clue what it means. I’d like to become more knowledgeable.”

Still, Commodore hopes that his calendar won’t permit him to attend the race in May.

“Now I’m hooked, yeah. But hopefully, I don’t get to go to another Kentucky Derby until I’m retired,” he said, “which probably means I’m playing in the playoffs.”


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80