2023 Louisiana Derby Cheat Sheet: Get to Know the Horses
If there was an Olympic medal for “high fiving” then Bing Bush would be a gold medalist. In the austere, quiet offices of the Breeders’ Cup last week, he emerged from the back room smiling. He was beaming. He was glowing. He looked at his two friends and said quietly, “We got in!” and the celebration ensued. High fives! The clap was like thunder! Then the reality of their surroundings set in. Bush said, “No one can know,” which led to a fit of laughter and giggling. Bush quickly called Nathan McCauley (co-owner of Abbondanza Racing) and joyfully shared the good news. Their horse Goodyearforroses had just made it into the $2 million Filly and Mare Turf race in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar.
This is a dream come true for Bush. The Breeders’ Cup is in his backyard and he has a horse in the race. There are not enough exclamation points in the world to emphasize how exciting this is. Bush grew up in Lexington. Horses have always been part of his life. He grew up loving Westerns and horses. There was 4-H, Pony Club, and hunter and jumper shows. He then broke yearlings at local farms. He moved easily in the equine world and was soon galloping and training horses at the track. Along the way there were other numerous jobs always involving horses.
Bush graduated from the University of Kentucky Law School and the Cambridge University (International Law) in England. He now has law offices in Del Mar and Lexington. His heart always returned to horses and he has gained the moniker of “The Horse Lawyer” throughout the area. He is highly regarded as an equine attorney and represents equine transactional and litigation issues locally, nationally, and internationally.
Bush could easily be considered a Renaissance Man. Attorney, philanthropist, executive, author, speaker, and more. In addition to being immensely talented, one of his biggest strengths is friendship. He is blessed with a tremendous circle of friends that have been with him for decades.
Bush likes to gather his friends together and look for opportunities to experience and participate in horse racing. He established Abbondanza Racing, which currently has 16 partners, with his friend Nathan McCauley. One of the strengths of Abbondanza is its leadership. McCauley was also born and raised in Kentucky. All five of his brothers are in the equine business. McCauley breeds and races horses year-round in addition to managing McCauley Farms bloodstock investments. In addition, he co-owns and manages a “socially-minded” car dealership in the Nashville area. His life was changed when Afleet Alex won the Preakness Stakes in 2005, which inspired him. Both he and Bush are on the Thoroughbred Charities of America’s board of directors.
Goodyearforroses is a 5-year-old mare who won the Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes at Santa Anita in June. In addition she has won the Astra II Stakes and the Robert J. Frankel Stakes. She is a solid performer who has been in the money 11 times and has earned almost a half a million dollars. She is trained by Richard Baltas. She was purchased for $200,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton November sale and is ridden by Corey Nakatani. She greets visitors from her stall with her ears pinned back in a traditional annoyed mare mode. After a while, she accepts her visitor’s presence and her ears helicopter forward. When she is on the track, she is aware of her surroundings. She will give those on the track a haughty side eye and pick up her feet as she imperiously walks by. After this race, it is planned that she will be sold, but for now she is the reigning queen of Abbondanza racing. And she knows it!
On Halloween night, Bush hosted a costume party at his law offices in downtown Del Mar. What a party! His friends joined in the jubilation of the night and came dressed in a fabulous, wide array of costumes. “Catwoman” and “Wonder Woman” made dynamite entrances down the stairway into the courtyard of partiers. There were “hippies” from the 60s and “Princess Leila.” The music pulsed as the crowd danced. It was simply a fabulous party and a great night to celebrate life.
Bush’s law office features a beautiful oil painting of Goodyearforroses above his desk by artist Cheryl Petty. Bush was the executive director (2016-2017) of the Breeders’ Cup Host Committee that organized more than two dozen community events throughout the San Diego area celebrating the Breeders’ Cup. Perhaps the most beautiful event is “The Art of the Horse,” which features full-size horse sculptures painted and decorated by artists. The sculptures are reproductions of the Torrie horse featured on the Breeders’ Cup trophies. Bush (and friends) donated the horse titled “Gold Coast” to the city of Del Mar. It is currently located in Seagrove Park. She designed it to represent the Del Mar coastline at sunrise and sunset with colors that go from aluminum to gold flake. It is breathtaking to visit it at sunset as the Pacific Ocean laps the sand below while the sky gently changes colors behind it.
From the desk in his office, Bush looks across to a space that he calls “Jubilation Corner.” It features two large photographs of triumphant moments. One is jockey Gary Stevens as he crossed the finish line. The other is jockey Frankie Dettori making his traditional winner’s circle leap of joy into the sky. Arranged in front of them are Abbondanza racing trophies. Bush and McCauley came into the office to pose for a photo and, of course, the perfect place is in Jubilation Corner. They are both passionate about service to people and devote their time and resources to making the world a better place.
Western Jockeys’ Guild representative Darrell Haire has known Bush since he was in college. He is a great admirer and speaks highly of his friend. “Bing Bush is exactly what the industry needs. He’s full of energy. He’s got a passion for the sport like no other. Bing Bush makes everyone happy around him.”
In the filtered sunlight of Breeders’ Cup Saturday morning, the Bush family gather outside the Turf Club and admires the purple and yellow flowers. Bush is surrounded by his wife, Julie, his son, Ben, and his sister Marcel. He is excited as Abbondanza also has a horse racing in the Goldikova Stakes (Corps de Ballet).
Looking at the crowd pouring into Del Mar, Bush reflected on the Breeders’ Cup. “First of all, I feel like a winner just by being here. I feel very humble and very grateful to be in the ranks of [the competitors] in the Filly and Mare turf race. At the same time, I am very excited. Our Goodyearforroses is a great mare and she is training very well. It’s nice to not be the favorite because I don’t feel the pressure that you feel when you are a favorite. I feel very eager to see how we end up today. I think we have a good shot.”
Bush hugged his wife and sister and said, “I wish I could find words for how it feels to be with my friends and family. I’m just walking on clouds.” He smiled as he looked at his son. “To have my wife and my son and my sister here …” and then he stopped caught in the emotion of the moment. “The Abbondanza group is not a syndicate; it’s is a partnership. Everybody in this group is really a friend and not just a partner. I feel blissfully happy.”
Ben and his dad shared a look that showed how wonderful their bond is. Ben said, “This is indescribable. It’s good to see my dad here the way he is now and how happy he is. It’s good to be with the family first and foremost. Second of all, it’s good to be with the family here in this space. We are able to connect with each other; to be next to each other; hold hands and celebrate. Look each other in the eye and know that we have already won.”
Abbondanza is Italian for abundance. It’s apparent that McCauley and Bush have built a loving circle of friends and family with their partnership. Whether one is giving a high five or having fun at a Halloween party, it’s good to view life with jubilation. Breeders’ Cup offers many the possibility of dreams and hopes and is also a great place to celebrate life. Win, place, or show, Abbondanza Racing amplifies the dreams of their partners and opens the door to abundant joy. Bush’s smile radiates joy and excitement as he faces the possibilities of the day with his friends and family by his side. It’s a magical morning for dreamers.