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August 16. 2013 11:14PM

'Boston Strong'

John Habib's City Sports: Matt Gatsas' horse wins name game

Matt Gatsas' horse, Boston Strong. (Courtesy)

It was last April, a week before the Boston Marathon, when Matt Gatsas, president of Sovereign Stable in Manchester, purchased a 2-year-old colt in Kentucky at an auction.

“After buying the colt I had to board a plane the next morning for a flight to the Bahamas,” said Gatsas. “Normally I would have named the horse after buying it, but I had no time until I came back from my vacation.”

A week later, while Gatsas was still vacationing, chaos reigned on April 15 when two pressure cooker bombs exploded seconds and yards apart, killing three and injuring more than 260 people near the finish line at the Boston Marathon.

“My phone is ringing like crazy and I’m calling back home asking what’s going on,” said Gatsas. “I graduated (in 1999) from Babson College (in Wellesley, Mass.) and I must have walked in that area (on Boylston Street) a couple of thousand times. I mean I know that area real well and even stood in the area where the bombs actually went off. My buddies and I would go to the marathon every year I was in college to watch the runners near the finish line.”

Gatsas said he returned home to Manchester the day after the bombings and still hadn’t officially given a name to his newly-purchased colt. But all that changed when he turned the TV on to watch the Red Sox.

“That was the first time I heard about ‘Boston Strong’ and I started thinking how great it would be to name my colt just that,” said Gatsas. “I mean, the slogan itself was popular and it had a meaningful and powerful message behind it following the bombings.”

Sure enough Gatsas quickly checked with the Jockey Club to see if the name was taken.

“It wasn’t and I quickly said I wanted it,” said Gatsas, who paid a hundred bucks to secure it and name his colt.

“I’ll never know for sure, but I’ll bet my house hundreds of people in the (horse) business applied for the naming rights to ‘Boston Strong’ right after I purchased it. I’m willing to bet it.”

Before anyone suggests Gatsas was capitalizing on a popular slogan at the expense of the marathon victims, think again.

“I’ve already made a $1,000 donation to the One Fund (assisting victims and families of the Boston Marathon bombings) and I have pledged to donate 5 percent to the One Fund from all the track earnings Boston Strong makes,” said Gatsas. “Just like anyone else who cares, I want to reach out and help the victims of the bombings.”

Gatsas, who said he purchased Boston Strong for $145,000, said the colt had a setback this month.

“Boston Strong was set to run at Saratoga this month, but the horse got a fever and we had to scratch the plan,” he said. “We’re targeting Belmont or Aqueduct in early to late fall.”

There’s a funny side story to all of this. Gatsas said the colt was born on Feb. 28, 2011, in New York.

“I know, I know,” said Gatsas, anticipating the next question. “I know it’s strange to name a New York-bred horse Boston Strong. But it really lives up to the name. The colt is a good-looking horse that comes from a strong family. Believe me, this horse has the potential of winning races.”

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At last check, there is no local or Internet radio coverage of the 14-year-old Babe Ruth World Series from Moses Lake, Wash. There is good news for supporters of the Manchester Mickey Hanagan All-Star team because the 14-year-old Babe Ruth national website does offer a live pitch-by-pitch log of every game.

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Ted Menswar Jr. has announced that the family of Mike Flanagan has established a baseball scholarship in his name. The scholarship will be annually awarded to a candidate from the Manchester Memorial varsity baseball team who best exemplifies the work ethic demonstrated by Flanagan. The winner will be named at the school’s Class Day ceremony each spring before graduation.

Recently the Manchester Board of Mayor and Alderman approved naming the Memorial High baseball field after Flanagan. Menswar said plans are in the works to erect a “Mike Flanagan Field” sign adjacent to the main entrance to the field.

Menswar also said Flanagan’s Baltimore Orioles jersey will be hung on the wall across from the school’s gymnasium next to the Hall of Fame Red Division for athletes and coaches.

Donations are needed to fund the scholarship and checks should be mailed to: The Michael K. Flanagan Baseball Scholarship, c/o Ed Flanagan, account administrator, St. Mary’s Bank, 234 Elm Street, Manchester N.H., 03101.

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Memo to the Manchester Board of Mayor and Alderman and School District: There’s at least three former great coaches to consider for naming rights in the city.

Let’s start with Joe O’Neil of Manchester Central, who led the outdoor, indoor and cross-country teams to a combined 33 NHIAA state titles during his tenure. Name the Derryfield 3.1-mile course after him.Jim Schubert of Manchester Central, who coached the Little Green to six Division I state football titles. If the city can name a field after Bob Chabot for leading Memorial to six state titles, they can certainly name the football field at Gill Stadium after Schubert.

Lastly, Jack Amero, the girls’ soccer coach who led Manchester West to 15 Class L titles and 415 wins, including 62 straight from 1989 to 1993, which was the longest streak in the nation at the time. It’s time to honor these great coaches.

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Memo to the organizers of the Aug. 30 Bo Dickson Queen City Football Jamboree: Memorial and West should be playing under the lights at Gill Stadium, not at 5:30 p.m. when parents are just getting out of work. It’s the Queen City jamboree. The local kids should get the last game, not Pinkerton of Derry or Timberlane of Plaistow.

“City Sports” appears Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at

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