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- Also part owner of Quip who qualified, but was withdrawn, and 2014 Derby champion California Chrome.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