By Kevin Mooney
Gervinho has a big weekend ahead of him. Gervinho the horse that is.
The colt, owned by Arsenal supporter Keith Brackpool, is set to race in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on Saturday at Santa Anita Park near Los Angeles, California. The race -- a distance of one mile for two-year-old horses - has been run since 2007.
Brackpool says the reasons for choosing the name were simple. He likes one-word names for horses, and much like his namesake, the colt "happens to possess a comparable burst of acceleration while in full gallop".
The chairman of the California Horse Racing Board, Brackpool has been "a diehard Arsenal supporter" his entire life -- attending his first game at Highbury when he seven years old.
"My grandfather took me to every home game for years and years," he told Arsenal.com. "Even after I moved to the States nothing diminished my passion for the Club and team.
"When Emirates Stadium opened I was lucky enough to be able to secure two season tickets and still have them to this day. I get across to watch somewhere between six to 10 games a year but my father, Brian, never misses one. The family tradition has continued with my 15-year-old son, Tristan, also a Gooner through and through.
"Soccer and horse racing are two of the greatest sports known to man. The idea that we will celebrate them together this Saturday when Gervinho (the horse) steps onto the turf to compete in the World Championship race for two-year-olds will be a dream come true."
Will this dream include the winners' circle? Brackpool is hopeful, but realistic.
"We have to remember that this is only his third lifetime start so we can't expect Reading-like miracles!" he says. "However, just to be in the race is very special and regardless of what happens on Saturday the racing world could well be hearing the name Gervinho for a long time to come."
Gervinho has had good success in his short career. The California-bred colt has two wins in his two starts - including a big win at Santa Anita on October 8. His career earnings have already eclipsed the $100,000 mark.
Gervinho will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano. Post time is 11:50 am PDT.
Special thanks to Josh Ellis for contributing to this storyCopyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source