Get to Know the Horse Owners of the 2019 Kentucky Derby

The Life
Derby hopeful Vekoma with his owners after winning the Blue Grass Stakes.
Derby hopeful Vekoma with his owners after winning the Blue Grass Stakes. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The greatest two minutes in sports is right around the corner! Get to know the people who own the runners in this year’s Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve below in order of each horse's Kentucky Derby qualifying points.


Eclipse Sportswire

1. Tacitus

Owner: Juddmonte Farms

About: Prince Khalid bin Abdullah is a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family and a businessman presiding over Mawarid Holding, with interests in a variety of industries including finance, real estate, insurance, and more. Juddmonte is his international racing operation, known for an outstanding band of broodmares and racehorses like Arrogate, Frankel, and Enable.


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2. Omaha Beach (SCRATCHED ON MAY 1)

Owner: Fox Hill Farms

About: Rick Porter is the third generation of his family to run Porter Automotive Group, one of the nation's first Chevrolet/Buick dealerships. Over the years, the Porter family has owned and operated as many as 15 different dealership locations in various states. He has enjoyed many successes in the Thoroughbred industry, including owning such top horses as Round Pond, Hard Spun, Havre de Grace, and Songbird.


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3. Vekoma

Owners: R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stable

About: Raymond Hill III is from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and grew up going to Monmouth Park with his mother. When a Wall Street deal paid off 17 years ago, Hill bought his first Thoroughbred and was off to the races.

Mike Gatsas is from New Hampshire and founded Staffing Network with his brother Ted in 1988 and 11 years later sold the business to Vincam, which merged with ADP. In 2003, Mike Gatsas founded Trivantus, offering payroll services and benefits and human resource administration. Mike’s son Matt was the one who came up with Vekoma’s name, which the son of Candy Ride shares with a Dutch roller coaster manufacturer.


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4. Plus Que Parfait

Owner: Imperial Racing

About: Imperial Racing is the nom de course for a group of Russian businessmen who live, work, and race in Dubai.


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5. Roadster

Owner: Speedway Stable

About: Speedway Stable is the nom de course of Peter and Ann Fluor and K.C. Weiner. Peter Fluor is the director of Fluor, one of the world's largest engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, and maintenance companies. He is also the Chairman of the Board at Texas Crude Energy, where K. C. Weiner is the president. Fluor and Weiner’s fathers were partners in racehorse ownership together, so the pair decided to pick up the torch with great success.


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6. By My Standards

Owner: Allied Racing Stable

About: Allied Racing Stable is the racing operation of Madisonville, Ky., coal and energy entrepreneur Chester Thomas. Thomas began attending the races with his father at the age of 6 or 7, sparking a lifelong interest in racing. He is a two-time leading owner at Ellis Park near Evansville, Ind.


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7. Maximum Security

Owners: Gary and Mary West

About: Gary and Mary West made their fortune in the telecommunications industry and now operate West Health as well as the Gary and Mary West Foundation. They have been involved in the Thoroughbred industry for more than 30 years and currently have dozens of horses in training, including another 2019 Derby entrant in champion Game Winner, in addition to several broodmares at Dell Ridge Farm in Lexington, Ky.


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8. Game Winner

Owners: Gary and Mary West

About: Like Maximum Security, Game Winner is owned by Gary and Mary West, who made their fortune in the telecommunications industry and now operate West Health as well as the Gary and Mary West Foundation. They have been involved in the Thoroughbred industry for more than 30 years and currently have dozens of horses in training in addition to several broodmares at Dell Ridge Farm in Lexington, Ky.


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9. Code of Honor

Owner: W.S. Farish

About: William S. Farish worked as a stockbroker in Houston before running a political campaign for future president George H.W. Bush, and from 2001-2004, served as United States Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s for president George W. Bush. He hosts Queen Elizabeth II on her visits to Kentucky. Farish founded Lane’s End in Versailles, Ky., in 1979, and today the farm is one of the world’s leading Thoroughbred operations. Among the more than 300 stakes winners Farish has bred alone or in partnership is 1992 Horse of the Year and leading sire A.P. Indy, who was pensioned in April 2011. Lane's End also is now home to 2010 Horse of the Year Zenyatta.


Wikimedia Commons/Sana Amjad Kiyani

10. Haikal

Owner: Shadwell Stable

About: Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum is a member of the ruling family of Dubai, and his Shadwell Stable is an international racing power. Sheikh Hamdan is the brother of Dubai’s current ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, and serves as the deputy ruler and minister of finance and industry for the United Arab Emirates. Shadwell Stable has campaigned many top horses over the years including 2006 Horse of the Year Invasor and 2016 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Tamarkuz.


Eclipse Sportswire

11. Improbable

Owners: WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International, and Starlight Racing

About: WinStar Farm was founded by Kenny Troutt and Bill Casner in 2000. The duo partnered in Excel Communications, a long-distance telephone service and communications company, before starting WinStar upon buying the 1,450-acre Prestonwood Farm property near Versailles, Ky. In 2010, Troutt bought out Casner’s portion of WinStar and is now the sole owner. WinStar stands several notable stallions and has campaigned the likes of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer, and Dubai World Cup winner Well Armed as well as several standout horses in partnership.

China Horse Club was established by Teo Ah Khing as a lifestyle and Thoroughbred racing club in 2013. They have been active at major North American Thoroughbred auctions as well as purchasing shares in racehorses that are already successful. China Horse Club’s most notable success is 2017 Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman, who they raced with Clearsky Farms.

Starlight Racing is a racing partnership run by Jack and Laurie Wolf. Louisville, Ky., native Jack was a hedge fund manager at Columbus Partners, and in 2000, he and his wife Laurie – both longtime racing fans – became owners when they purchased six yearlings at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale in July. The pair’s love of horses is evident in everything they do, including founding the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, the industry's first broad-based initiative dedicated to helping retired Thoroughbreds. Laurie is the managing partner and CEO of StarLadies Racing and also serves on the board of the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs.

WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, and Starlight Racing campaigned 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify along with Head of Plains Partners.


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12. War of Will

Owner: Gary Barber

About: Former MGM executive Gary Barber is the co-founder of Spyglass Entertainment and now the CEO of Spyglass Media. Spyglass Entertainment produced such motion pictures as "Seabiscuit" (nominated for seven Academy Awards), "Memoirs of a Geisha" (won three Academy Awards), "The Insider" (nominated for seven Academy Awards), and "The Sixth Sense" (nominated for six Academy Awards). Barber has served as executive producer of more than 50 films, including "Seabiscuit." The South Africa native has owned Thoroughbreds alone and in partnership with his brother Cecil and others. Notable horses he has been a part of include In Lingerie, Comma to the Top, Jack Milton, and 2015 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Catch a Glimpse. 


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13. Long Range Toddy

Owner: Willis Horton

About: Willis Horton helped develop his family business into D.R. Horton Custom Homes, the nation’s largest homebuilder. When the company went public in 1992, Horton devoted all of his time to Thoroughbred horse racing, and has campaigned champions Will Take Charge and Take Charge Brandi in his career as an owner.


Eclipse Sportswire

14. Tax

Owners: R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch, and Corms Racing Stable

About: Like Vekoma, Tax is co-owned by Raymond Hill III from Franklin Lakes, N.J., who grew up going to Monmouth Park with his mother. When a Wall Street deal paid off 17 years ago, Hill bought his first Thoroughbred and was off to the races.

Formed in 2009, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing is owned by Dean and his wife, Patti. Dean, from Atlanta, Ga., became interested in horse racing as a young adult, spawned by his first visit to the Kentucky Derby in 1976. Patti Reeves is the president of Reeves Media, an outdoor advertising specialty firm representing small and independent owners with high-profile bulletins and digital displays throughout Atlanta and the southeastern U.S. The Reeveses are best known for purchasing a majority interest in graded stakes winner Mucho Macho Man, who finished third in the 2011 Kentucky Derby and later won the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Hugh Lynch was one of the original owners of Tax, along with Lucas Stritsman of Troy, N.Y., who manages Corms Racing Stable. Stritsman, 42, and his wife, Erika, have two children, Klara, 7, and Evan, 5. He and his brother, Evan, operate Best Fire Hearth and Patio in Albany, N.Y. Their father, Wayne, started the business in his garage more than four decades ago.


Eclipse Sportswire

15. Cutting Humor

Owner: Starlight Racing

About: Starlight Racing is sole owner of Cutting Humor, in addition to co-owning Improbable. Starlight Racing is the racing partnership operated by Jack and Laurie Wolf. Louisville, Ky. native Jack was a hedge fund manager at Columbus Partners, and in 2000, he and his wife Laurie – both longtime racing fans – became owners when they purchased six yearlings at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale in July. The pair’s love of horses is evident in everything they do, including founding the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, the industry's first broad-based initiative dedicated to helping retired Thoroughbreds. Laurie is the Managing Partner and CEO of StarLadies Racing and also serves on the board of the Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs.


Eclipse Sportswire

16. Win Win Win

Owner: Live Oak Plantation

About: Live Oak Plantation is the racing operation of Charlotte C. Weber, heiress to the Campbell Soup fortune. Born Nov. 19, 1942, in Philadelphia, Weber is the granddaughter of Campbell Soup founder John T. Dorrance and she serves as a board trustee of Campbell Soup Co. She also is a member of the board of trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and provided funding for the Met Museum’s Charlotte C. Weber Galleries for the Arts of Ancient China. Weber is also a member, board member, or trustee of The Jockey Club, Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, and the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. In 2005, Weber was honored with the Penny Chenery Most Distinguished Woman in Racing Award. Weber was introduced to horse racing at an early age by family members and counts women such as Penny Chenery, Betty Moran, Josephine Abercrombie, Marylou Whitney, Elizabeth Arden, and Helen Groves as major influences on her racing philosophy.


Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing

17. Country House

Owners: Mrs. J.V. Shields Jr., E.J.M. McFadden Jr. and LNJ Foxwoods

About: Maury Shields (Mrs. J. V. Shields Jr.) formerly worked in the special client services department at Sotheby's in New York. Her father was the founder and chairman of Flowers Industries, a Georgia-based food company, and was a former democratic state Senator. Her late husband, Jerry Shields, was a Georgetown University graduate who had a Wall Street career spanning 56 years. In 1982, he founded Shields & Co. with his brother David; Jerry Shields was also a top horse owner and breeder as well as a philanthropist.

Guinness McFadden (E. J. M. McFadden Jr.,) is the nephew of Mrs. Shields, and he first attended a race with her and Mr. Shields in 1996. He began his career in the horse industry in 2007 at Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, and McFadden currently owns and operates Blackwood Stables in Kentucky.

LNJ Foxwoods is the racing name of Larry, Nanci, and Jaime Roth, a parents-daughter team that jumped in to Thoroughbred ownership in 2012. Larry Roth made his fortune as a principle of eyewear company Marchon and Jaime runs the family stable.


Eclipse Sportswire

18. Gray Magician

Owners: Wachtel Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and Gary Barber

About: Adam Wachtel is the owner of Wachtel Stable. As the son of prominent New York owner Ed Wachtel who came into the business in 1973, Adam literally grew up at the racetrack. "I've been going to the races since I was 10 years old," he said. "Even though I went to law school, I don't practice. I've always loved this, and it is all I've ever wanted to do.” 

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners is a racing partnership started in 2012 by Aron Wellman, the son of longtime California breeders Michael and Cory Wellman. The stable has campaigned several Grade 1 winners, alone or in partnership, in its short history, including 2015 Acorn Stakes winner Curalina and 2014 Arkansas Derby winner Danza. The latter went on to finish third in the Kentucky Derby. 

Former MGM executive Gary Barber also owns Derby contender War of Will. Barber is the co-founder of Spyglass Entertainment and now the CEO of Spyglass Media. Spyglass Entertainment produced such motion pictures as "Seabiscuit" (nominated for seven Academy Awards), "Memoirs of a Geisha" (won three Academy Awards), "The Insider" (nominated for seven Academy Awards), and "The Sixth Sense" (nominated for six Academy Awards). Barber has served as executive producer of more than 50 films, including "Seabiscuit." The South Africa native has owned Thoroughbreds alone and in partnership with his brother Cecil and others. Notable horses he has been a part of include In Lingerie, Comma to the Top, Jack Milton, and 2015 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Catch a Glimpse.


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19. Spinoff

Owners: Wertheimer and Frere

About: Wertheimer et Frere is the name of the Thoroughbred partnership between brothers Alain and Gérard Wertheimer of France. Their grandfather Pierre co-founded esteemed fashion empire Chanel, which the brothers still operate along with vineyards and other luxury clothing companies. They have campaigned a number of top Thoroughbreds around the world including Solow, Goldikova, and Halfbridled.


20. Master Fencer

Owner: Katsumi Yoshizawa

About: Born in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan, Katsumi Yoshizawa now runs Yoshizawa Stables, a large private horse training operation in Japan that does everything from initial training to selling racehorses. His training operation has been responsible for horses such as six-time Group 1 winner Gold Ship, 2014 Longines World’s Best Racehorse Just a Way (who is also Master Fencer’s sire), and many other top Japanese racehorses. Yoshizawa also opened a school for training Japanese horsemen in 2017. Japan has a shortage of exercise riders and grooms, and the facility is helping teach those interested in working in racing the skills to ride work and be a groom. Yoshizawa travels to Keeneland sales in Kentucky regularly, and bought Master Fencer's dam, Sexy Zamurai, at the September auction in 2005.

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