Veteran horseman in Denmark, Mor Spirit owner awaits first Derby

Veteran horseman in Denmark, Mor Spirit owner awaits first Derby

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Trainer Bob Baffert trains for a bunch of different owners and has won the Kentucky Derby for four different ownerships.

Now, Baffert is coming back to the Derby with a new shooter.

Michael Lund Petersen, who has been around the sport of horse racing for years in his native Denmark, is the co-founder of Pandora Jewelry and a rookie horseman in America. Baffert will saddle Mor Spirit for the jewelry mogul.

"He's been a quick study," Baffert said of his owner. "He did come here with me one year to the Derby, but he's reading everything and learning.

"He knows all about it and I think he's really excited."

It's just another notch on his belt for Lund Petersen, who not only turned his business into the largest jewelry company in the world but also won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am with golfer Pat Perez in 2015.

"I've been pretty fortunate," he said. "But I know (horse racing) is different. It can be over (with a horse) in one day. I had One Lucky Dane (on the Derby trail) last year and called Bob (after a second in the Santa Anita Derby) thinking he ran a good race and he told me he would never race again. So, I know it's a tough game."

But this time, with the second-place Santa Anita finisher, he's made it to the Derby. Mor Spirit is a son of Eskendereya has three wins and four seconds in seven career starts, including a second in the Kentucky Jockey Cup in November at Churchill.

The colt is named in honor of Lund Petersen's mother, who turns 90 this month. She will be watching the Derby on television in Denmark.

"Mor means 'mom' in Danish," he said. "My wife thinks she's a feisty little woman, so we named a horse after my mother.

"She is a feisty woman."

Baffert says it was a good name for the colt because he "is pretty feisty."

And he also has a chance to help Lund Peterson make a name for himself elsewhere.

A native of Denmark, Lund Petersen started going to the races at Copenhagen, Denmark, at age 12 and said he started betting when he was 14.

"In the U.S., I am a rookie since I have had to work for a living," he said. "But since I was 12, 13 years old I lived right next to a race track. I always went there and was able to see them run in the mornings and every Saturday, I always had an interest because that's where I woke up."

He moved to the U.S. in the early 2000s and co-founded Pandora in 2002 from the basement of his brother's house in Baltimore. He's now a senior adviser to the company that is the largest jewelry company in the world.

"They don't need my advice any more," he laughed. "So, I have time to do this."

Petersen met Baffert through a mutual friend and got into the game by purchasing 25 horses with the Hall of Fame trainer. He "only has a few good ones" and said there are a few 2-year-olds about to arrive in the barn.

"It's like running a business," he said. "If you surround yourself with people smarter than you then have a chance to be successful. With Bob (Baffert) and Gary (Stevens) that's a pretty good start."

Lund Petersen said he thinks his "heart is going to jump out of his chest," if he happens to win the Derby with Mor Spirit.

"Fourteen years ago we were this small little Danish Jewelry Company and today we are by far the biggest in the world, so that has been a surreal experience," he said. "I won the Pebble Beach pro am last year and that was the most surreal thing.

"If this is going to be better than that, then it has to be pretty damn good."

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