Rick Pitino

Louisville coach Rick Pitino talks to the media in the barn area during morning training for the 2013 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. (Andy Lyons / Getty Images / May 1, 2013)

On Wednesday at Churchill Downs, a crowd clad mainly in Louisville basketball shirts gathered at Barn 45 to watch Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino as he visited a horse of which he owns five percent.

Pitino, a month removed from becoming the first coach in NCAA history to win Division I basketball national championship tournaments with two different schools, appeared at trainer Doug O'Neill's barn shortly after 8 a.m. and joined an entourage following Goldencents.

Pitino bought five percent of the colt for $3,100 and has called it the best investment he ever made.

Pitino and O'Neill grew close last year when the trainer saddled Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner I'll Have Another. Pitino originally became interested in the sport, he said Wednesday, when he was hired to coach at Kentucky in 1989. He said he took recruits to nearby Claiborne Farm, where Secretariat lived until his death in October of that year.

"The kids would be in awe," Pitino said. "The parents all wanted to see the mighty Secretariat."

Pitino said he felt good about Goldencents' chances in the race, but also expressed hope that longtime trainer Shug McGaughey, who conditions Orb (a horse born at Claiborne), would finally win the Derby after 34 years.

O'Neill, who faced a barrage of questions about doping indiscretions last year and served a 45-day suspension following the Triple Crown, was his usual wry self. His barn bustled with grooms and assistants, and he joked with visitors.

When another former Louisville coach, Denny Crum, showed up, O'Neill quipped: "Pitino's on the other side, cleaning a stall."

Gorgui Dieng, a center for the Cardinals who has declared for the NBA draft, accompanied Pitino on Wednesday.

Dutrow to arrive Thursday

Tony Dutrow, who has stalls at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, will saddle surprise entrant Giant Finish in the 139th running of the Derby.

Owned by Andy Cohen — who was a member of the ownership team that ran Big Brown to wins in the first two legs of the 2008 Triple Crown — and several partners, the colt answers the question of what it takes for a horse to qualify under the new Kentucky Derby points system — at least this year.

Giant Finish will enter the race with just 10 points, earned when he finished third in the Grade III Spiral Stakes outside Cincinnati in late March. He knocked Fear the Kitten, with six points, onto the also-eligible list.

Churchill Downs implemented the points system to make it easier for casual fans to follow the chase for a spot in the Derby. Spots previously had been awarded based on graded earnings.

More than 30 horses earned 10 or more points but are off the Kentucky Derby trail for any number of reasons.

Bob Baffert, mired in a controversy surrounding the unexplained deaths of seven horses in 16 months, withdrew two horses Monday. The California-based conditioner hasn't been without a Derby starter since 2008.

Governor Charlie, who earned 50 points but suffered a bone bruise on April 11, has been pointed toward the Preakness.

Spots in the second leg of the Triple Crown in Baltimore are still determined by a tiered system that takes into account graded stakes, open stakes and total earnings.

Dutrow is the oldest son of Richard Dutrow Sr., a top trainer in Maryland for decades, and a Hagerstown native. His brother, Rick Dutrow, trained Big Brown but is currently serving the first year of a 10-year ban for doping violations.

Tony Dutrow and Giant Finish are scheduled to arrive Thursday, when Churchill Downs begins mandatory 24-hour-a-day monitoring of barns where Derby horses are staying.