Kentucky Derby

Who owns every Kentucky Derby horse and how they got so rich

Vincent Viola, standing at right with one hand on the Kentucky Derby trophy, was a co-owner of last year's Derby champion, Always Dreaming. This year, he's back again as co-owner of Derby hopeful Vino Rosso.
Vincent Viola, standing at right with one hand on the Kentucky Derby trophy, was a co-owner of last year's Derby champion, Always Dreaming. This year, he's back again as co-owner of Derby hopeful Vino Rosso.

Horse racing has been called the sport of kings, and when it comes to the owners behind the scenes the moniker is not far off.

Some are actual princes. Some are self-made millionaires and billionaires. Some have put their own stamp on old money that goes back generations. Some have worked their whole lives just to be a part of the sport.

All, of course, share a love of horse racing.

And many work together to share a piece of the potential glory and, perhaps, grab onto a trophy handle in a winners circle. There are a number of owners who have stakes in more than one Derby horse.

Some of them purchased their Derby contenders for millions; some for a mere several thousand; and some horses were held onto rather than being let go at auction.

Here’s a look at the people whose continued investment in the Thoroughbred industry will be showcased at Churchill Downs in the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby.

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China Horse Club chairman Teo Ah Khing, center watched as other members of the club kissed the trophy after last year's Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs. China Horse Club owns parts of Kentucky Derby hopefuls Audible and Justify in the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Jonathan Palmer File

Audible and Justify

Owners: China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm.

Audible’s auction price: $500,000 at Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale

Justify’s auction price: $500,000 at 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

Audible’s earnings to date: $882,920

Justify’s earnings to date: $666,000

Audible’s Best win: Florida Derby (G1)

Justify’s best win: Santa Anita Derby (G1)

About China Horse Club: Ownership group founded by Malaysia-born Fujian native Teo Ah Khing, a Harvard-educated acclaimed architect, entrepreneur and self-made billionaire. Teo Ah Khing is chairman of five companies, including the club, according to the club’s website. It also lists him as a senior adviser to the current or former rulers of Malaysia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. Involved in racing since 2013.

  • Also part owner of Quip who qualified, but was withdrawn, and 2014 Derby champion California Chrome.

About Head of Plains Partners: Led by Sol Kumin, founder and CEO of Folger Hill Asset Management, a hedge-fund company.

  • Kumin also controls Monomoy Stables, which has part of My Boy Jack.

About Starlight Racing: Founded by Jack and Laurie Wolf. Jack Wolf worked as a professor and hedge fund manager with Columbus Partners in Atlanta.

About WinStar Farm: Owned by Kenny Trout, founder of Excel Communications, a Texas-based long-distance phone company that merged with Teleglobe in a $3.5 billion deal in 1998.

  • Also part owner of Noble Indy

Bolt d’Oro

Owner: Ruis Racing

Auction price: $630,000 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga 2016 Select Yearling Sale

Earnings to date: $1,016,000

Best win: San Felipe Stakes (G2)

About Ruis Racing: Mick Ruis, who owns and trains his horses, built two fortunes in the scaffolding business. The first he lost after he first turned his full attention to horse racing in the 2000s. It left him bankrupt. He got out of the sport, built another successful scaffolding company, American Scaffold, which he sold controlling interest in, but remains the CEO. The deal allowed him to return to racing.

Bravazo

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Brad Kelley

Owner: Calumet Farm

Auction price: Bravazo is a Calumet homebred

Earnings to date: $436,528

Best win: Risen Star (G2)

About Calumet Farm: Brad Kelley bought historic Calumet Farm in 2012 and immediately began restoring it to glory focusing on breeding, raising and racing its own horses. Kelley, a Kentucky native and farmer’s son, built his fortune with the discount cigarette company Commonwealth Brands which he sold for $1 billion in 2001. He has since become one of the largest landowners in the United States.

Combatant

Owners: Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing

Auction price: Sold for $320,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

Earnings to date: $388,550

Best win: Won his second race, a maiden special weight at Churchill Downs. Finished fourth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby.

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Actor and Longines ambassador of elegance Simon Baker, left, joined Jennifer Judkins, second left, and Juan-Carlos Capelli, third left, both of Longines, to award trainer Steve Asmussen, jockey Rosie Napravnik and owner Ron Winchell, left to right, with their Longines timepieces after their horse Untapable won the Longines Kentucky Oaks in 2014, in Louisville. Winchell is co-owner of Combatant, who is expected to be in the field for this week's Kentucky Derby. Diane Bondareff Invision for Longines/AP Images

About Winchell Thoroughbreds: Ron Winchell's father, Verne Winchell, founded Winchell's Donut House with a single store in Temple City, Calif., in 1948. It now has more than 170 locations in six states, Guam and Saipan, according to its website. Verne Winchell passed away in 2002, but left a love of horse racing with his son, who has several of his own business interests, including Winchell's Pub & Grill and Jackpot Joanie's locations in Las Vegas.

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Thoroughbred owner Willis Horton led Will Take Charge and jockey Luis Saez into the winner's circle at Churchill Downs following the colt's victory in the $500,000 Clark Handicap in 2013. Horton is co-owner of Combatant in this year's Kentucky Derby. Garry Jones AP Photo

About Willis Horton Racing: Willis Horton helped develop the family business, D.R. Custom Homes, into the largest single-family home builder in the nation. The company went public in 1992, allowing Horton to retire and focus on his stable.

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UAE Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum held Thunder Snow's reins next to jockey Christophe Soumillon after victory in the $10 million Dubai World Cup in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates in March. Al Maktoum will bring Enticed from his Godolphin stable to the Kentucky Derby this year. Martin Dokoupil Associated Press

Enticed

Owner: Godolphin

Auction price: Enticed is a Godolphin homebred

Earnings to date: $595,680

Best win: Gotham (G3)

About Godolphin: Owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, a member of the al Maktoum royal family of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai.

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Ron Lombardi Twitter.com/mramorestables

Firenze Fire

Owner: Mr. Amore Stables

Auction price: Firenze Fire is a Mr. Amore Stables homebred

Earnings to date: $669,100

Best win: Champagne Stakes (G1)

About Mr. Amore Stables: Owned by Ron Lombardi who also owns SportsCare Institute, a chain of physical therapy centers in New Jersey, New York and Florida. He’s been in the horse industry since 2008.

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John Oxley's Classic Empire with jockey Julien Leparoux aboard won the Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in 2016. Classic Empire was the morning-line favorite in last year's Kentucky Derby but finished fourth. This year, Oxley, standing to Leparoux's left, has Flameaway as a possible contender. Matt Goins File

Flameaway

Owner: John Oxley

Auction price: Last sold for $400,000 at 2016 Fasig-Tipton New York Saratoga Select Yearling Sale.

Earnings to date: $704,834

Best win: Sam F. Davis (G3)

About John Oxley: Co-founded Oxley Petroleum along with his father John T. Oxley in 1962 in Tulsa, Okla. His father had built his own company and sold it prior to that. Father and son were both renowned polo players.

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Albaugh Family Stables' Dennis Albaugh, left, and Jason Loutsch led Free Drop Billy and jockey Robby Albarado to the winner's circle after winning the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland last October. Free Drop Billy beat fellow Kentucky Derby hopefuls Bravazo and Lone Sailor that day. Matt Goins

Free Drop Billy

Owner: Albaugh Family Stables

Auction price: $200,000 at 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

Earnings to date: $625,220

Best win: Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (G1)

About Albaugh Family Stables: In 1979, Dennis Albaugh used $2,000 savings and a $10,000 mortgage on his house and turned that investment in himself into a more than $1 billion pesticide enterprise now named Albaugh Inc.

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Good Magic owners Robert Edwards Jr., left, and Barbara Banke smiled after winning the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes during opening weekend at Keeneland on March 7, 2018. Good Magic will probably be one of the favorites at this Saturday's Kentucky Derby as the reigning juvenile champion. Pablo Alcala

Good Magic

Owners: e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables

Auction price: $1,000,000 at 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

Earnings to date: $1,855,000

Best win: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1)

About e Five Racing: Owned by Bob and Kristine Edwards and their three children, Cassidy, Riley and Delaney. Bob Edwards co-founded a pharmaceutical company, Boca Pharmacal in 1998 after working in the industry. After a successful sale for $223 million in 2013, Edwards founded e5 Pharma in 2014. The family’s horse racing interest began after a visit to the Saratoga backstretch with a friend and business partner.

About Stonestreet Stables: Founded by the late Jess Jackson and his wife Barbara Banke, both California attorneys who increased their fortune in the wine industry. Banke owns and runs Kendall-Jackson Wines and Jackson Family Wines.

Good Magic, last year’s 2-year-old champion and the 8-5 favorite, waited through a far-turn battle between Flameaway and Arawak before taking control and winning the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Hofburg

Owner: Juddmonte Farms

Auction price: Home-bred by Juddmonte Farms

Earnings to date: $227,950

Best finish: Second in Florida Derby (G1)

About Juddmonte Farms: Owned by Prince Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, younger half-brother to Saudi King Abdulaziz. He has a number of business interests outside of racing. Won Eclipse Award for top owner in 1992 and 2003 and top breeder in 1995, 2001-03 and 2009.

Instilled Regard

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This will be Lawrence Best's first Kentucky Derby after jumping into the industry with a splash of auction purchases in 2016. Fasig-Tipton Photo

Owner: OXO Equine.

Auction price: Originally sold for $110,000 at 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and then sold again for $1,050,000 at Ocala Breeders' Sales Company 2017 March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training.

Earnings to date: $294,000

Best win: Lecomte Stakes (G3).

About OXO Equine: Owned by Lawrence Best, chairman of OXO Capital, an investment firm he founded in 2007. The Boston native is a former CFO and executive vice president of Boston Scientific, a medical devices marketer..

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Gayle Benson, widow of New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, continues to run other ventures, including GMB Racing. Jonathan Bachman AP Photo

Lone Sailor

Owner: GMB Racing

Auction price: $120,000 at 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

Earnings to date: $334,237

Best finish: Second in the Louisiana Derby (G2)

About GMB Racing: Owned by Gayle Benson, widow of New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson who died on March 15. Gayle Benson was an accomplished businesswoman in her own right as an interior designer and real estate investor. Her husband built his fortune in auto dealerships.

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Owners Robert and Lawana Low led Magnum Moon with jockey Luis Saez up to the winner's circle for the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 14. Coady Photography

Magnum Moon

Owners: Robert E. and Lawana L. Low

Auction price: $380,000

Earnings to date: $1,177,800

Best win: Arkansas Derby (G1)

About the owners: Robert E. Low founded a trucking company, Prime Inc., in 1970 as a 19-year-old in Urbana, Mo. The company grew from one truck to more than 6,800. He and his wife, Lawana, also own Prime, a Thoroughbred farm in Springfield, Mo., and The Palace Casino in Biloxi, Miss.

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From left, Rags to Riches' co-owner Michael B. Tabor, trainer Todd Pletcher, jockey John R. Velazquez, and co-owner Derrick Smith won the 2007 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. Rags to Riches was the first filly to win the race since Tanya won in 1905. This year, Tabor and Smith along with Susan Magnier have ownership stakes in two Kentucky Derby contenders, Mendelssohn and Solomini. Jason DeCrow AP Photo

Mendelssohn

Owners: Michael B. Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier (Susan), and Derrick Smith (Coolmore Stud syndicate)

Auction price: $3,000,000 at 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

Earnings to date: $1,961,137

Best win: The UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai

About Michael B. Tabor: Earned his fortune as a bookmaker and gambler in England, developing a large bookmaking business he sold for a reported 27 million pounds in 1995. He became part of the Coolmore Stud syndicate.

About Mrs. John Magnier (Susan): Wife of John Magnier, an Irish business magnate and owner of Coolmore Stud, which he developed into a giant in the horse industry.

About Derrick Smith: Bookmaker and trading director with Ladbrokes who moved into currency trading, land development and horse racing.

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The connections of Stonestreet Lexington winner My Boy Jack, including jockey Kent Desormeaux and Don't Tell My Wife Stables partner Kirk Godby, second from right, celebrated with the trophy on the turf course at Keeneland on April 14. Keeneland photo

My Boy Jack

Owners: Don’t Tell My Wife Stables and Monomoy Stables

Auction price: $20,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

Earnings to date: $645,145

Best win: Southwest Stakes (G3)

About Don’t Tell My Wife Stables: An ownership club of more than 70 members based in Fort Worth, Texas. Keith Desormeaux is the group’s full-time trainer and bloodstock agent. Kirk Godby is the club’s managing partner and has been involved in the horse industry for 25 years, according to its website.

About Monomoy Stables: See Audible and Justify co-owner Head of Plains Partners.

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Winning owner Mike Repole, left, and winning trainer Todd Pletcher, celebrated after their horse, Uncle Mo, won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs in Louisville in 2010. This year, Repole is part owner of Kentucky Derby hopefuls Noble Indy and Vino Rosso. Charles Bertram File

Noble Indy

Owners: WinStar Farm and Repole Stable

Auction price: $45,000 at 2016 Keeeneland September Yearling Sale

Earnings to date: $691,600

Best win: Louisiana Derby (G1)

About WinStar Farm: See Audible and Justify

About Repole Stable: Owned by Mike Repole, co-founder of Glacéau Vitaminwater, which was sold to Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion in cash in 2007. Repole has been involved in racing for a number of years and had Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Uncle Mo in 2010.

  • Also owns part of Vino Rosso

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The connections of Promises Fulfilled, including owner Robert J. Baron (standing next to jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.) posed for a photo in the winner's circle for the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 3. The victory helped Promises Fulfilled secure an invitation to the Kentucky Derby. Twitter.com/GulfstreamPark

Promises Fulfilled

Owner: Robert J. Baron

Auction price: $37,000 at 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

Earnings to date: $337,280

Best win: Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2)

About Robert J. Baron: Built his fortune in the commercial construction business striking out on his own after working in the industry. He’s diversified into utilities, real estate and auto dealerships.

Solomini

Owner: Zayat Stables, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor and Derrick Smith

Auction price: $270.000 at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

Earnings to date: $752,000

Best finish: Second in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

About Zayat Stables: Owned by Ahmed Zayat, an Egyptian American entrepreneur who was born into a wealthy family, but made his own mark as an investor and president of an Egyptian beverage company. He first began buying racehorses in 2005.

Zayat Stables had 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.

About Mrs. John Magnier, Michael B. Tabor and Derrick Smith: See Mendelssohn.

Vino Rosso

Owner: Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable

Auction price: $410,000 at 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale

Earnings to date: $620,500

Best win: Wood Memorial (G2)

About Repole Stable: See Noble Indy

About St. Elias Stable: Owned by Vincent Viola, who built his fortune first as a Wall Street trader and later with the founding of Virtu Financial, a high-frequency trading firm, in 2008. Viola was part-owner of 2017 Derby winner Always Dreaming and owns the NHL’s Florida Panthers.

Never been to the Kentucky Derby? Here are some things to know to make your big day at Churchill Downs a winner.

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