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We’ve got a horse in this race: Trojan Nation seeks Kentucky Derby win

The horse’s owners are part of a family of diehard USC fans

Trojan Nation practices
Exercise rider Andy Durnin rides Trojan Nation during a workout at Churchill Downs on Wednesday. (Photo/Charlie Riedel, The Associated Press)

For two minutes this Saturday, the Trojan Family will have its eyes on a horse other than Traveler. The object of all the attention: Trojan Nation, a 3-year-old that will be among the 20 horses running in the 142nd Kentucky Derby.

He belongs to a family of Trojan fans, even if owners Aaron Sones and wife Julie Gilbert aren’t USC grads themselves. Gilbert grew up a USC fan: Her late father – Mort Gilbert ’53 – was a huge booster, as is her brother, Allen Gilbert JD ’78. Allen’s daughter, Lindsey, graduated from the USC Gould School of Law in 2014.

Sones – who earned undergraduate and medical degrees from UCLA – learned the power of the Trojan Family when his brother-in-law invited him to his first pre-football tailgate. He showed up dressed in blue and was chastised accordingly.

“They were kidding around,” he said, but Sones learned his lesson.

“We bought every piece of Trojan paraphernalia we could find,” then immediately changed clothes. “I’ve been a Trojan fan ever since.”

The derby entrant isn’t Sones’ only Trojan horse: He has a stablemate named Queen of Troy.

Trojan Nation faces a strong field led by favorite Nyquist. But Sones has faith in his horse, a colt with a strong lineage.

“I think we’ve got a great shot,” Sones said.

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We’ve got a horse in this race: Trojan Nation seeks Kentucky Derby win

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