Meet the Owners of the 2021 Kentucky Derby Contenders

The Life
The connections of Essential Quality at Keeneland last fall. (Eclipse Sportswire)

You’ve probably heard of some of the horses running in this year’s Kentucky Derby, but how much do you know about their owners? Here’s your chance to meet the people behind the Thoroughbreds in the 2021 run for the roses.

Sheikh Mohammed (Eclipse Sportswire)

1. Essential Quality

Owners: Godolphin

About: Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, also known as Sheikh Mohammed, is the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and emir of Dubai. A keen equestrian, he is the founder of the Maktoum family-owned Godolphin racing stable and the owner of Darley, the Thoroughbred breeding outfit with operations in six countries. In 2012, he rode the horse Madji Du Pont 160 km to take the FEI World Endurance Championship.

Boat Racing (Courtesy of Patrick O'Neill)

2. Hot Rod Charlie

Owners: Roadrunner Racing (Greg Helm), Boat Racing LLC (Patrick O'Neill), and William Strauss

About: Roadrunner Racing is a partnership headed by Greg Helm, a former advertising executive and current vice president of Desert Classic Charities. Patrick O’Neill is a 26-year-old Brown graduate and vice president for sales and strategic partnerships at Founder Sport Group. O’Neill, along with Brown University frat brothers and football teammates Eric Armagost, Dan Giovaccini, Reiley Higgins, and Alex Quoyeser, comprise Boat Racing. William Strauss was co-founder and CEO of Proflowers, an online floral boutique, and currently sits on the board of the Thoroughbred Owners of California. A resident of Del Mar, Calif., Strauss has found the winner’s circle as an owner with horses including The Pamplemousse, Turbulent Descent, and Mizdirection.

Super Stock team after Arkansas Derby. (Eclipse Sportswire)

3. Super Stock

Owners: Erv Woolsey and Keith Asmussen

About: Erv Woolsey is a music manager who represents such Country music luminaries as George Strait, Lee Ann Womak, Davisson Brothers Band, and more. Keith Asmussen is the father of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary on April 18. 

Like the King's connections after Jeff Ruby win. (Coady Photography)

4. Like the King

Owner: M Racing Group LLC (Mickey Gonzalez)

About: Born in Puerto Rico, Mickey Gonzalez worked in his family’s insurance business before moving to Las Vegas to try his hand at real estate development. 

St. Elias team at Keeneland in 2017. (Eclipse Sportswire)

5. Known Agenda

Owner: St. Elias Stable

About: St. Elias Stable is the racing operation of Vincent Viola, owner of the Florida Panthers National Hockey League team, founder and executive chairman of the electronic trading firm Virtu Financial, and former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Viola graduated from West Point Academy and served in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Kosta Hronis in 2020. (Eclipse Sportswire)

6. Rock Your World

Owners: Hronis Racing and Talla Racing LLC

About: Hronis Racing is the racing operation of brothers Kosta and Pete Hronis, whose Hronis Inc. is a family farm in California's San Joaquin Valley. The Hronis brothers first got into racehorse ownership in 2010 and soon found success with multiple graded stakes winner Lady of Shamrock, who finished fifth in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Michael Talla is a co-founder of The Sports Club Co. and fell in love with horses while riding bucking broncos growing up in Arizona.

Bourbonic after Wood Memorial win. (Eclipse Sportswire)

7. Bourbonic

Owner: Calumet Farm

About: The Calumet name is one of the most famous names in the history of racing. Established by William Monroe Wright, the farm produced eight Kentucky Derby winners and two Triple Crown winners. In 1992, Henryk de Kwiatkowski bought the farm where it ran under his name, then under a name of trustees before Brad Kelley took the operation over in 2012. In 2013, Kelley started using the Calumet name for his stable. He had previously operated under the name Bluegrass Hall. Kelley leases the farm from Calumet Investment Trust, which purchased the property in 2012 for an estimated $36-$40 million. Kelley also owns Hurricane Hall and Bluegrass Hall, the latter formerly Nelson Bunker Hunt’s Bluegrass Farm. One of the 10 largest landowners in the U.S. with more than 1.2 million acres, Kelley is an active wildlife conservationist.

Medina Spirit after the Robert B. Lewis (BENOIT photo)

8. Medina Spirit

Owner: Zedan Racing Stables

About: Founded in 2016, Zedan Racing Stables, Inc. is the nom de course of Los Angeles native and Saudi Arabian businessman and philanthropist Amr bin Fareed bin Mohammed bin Zedan. A horse enthusiast, Zedan is a polo player in addition to a racehorse owner, and regularly competes on the international circuit.

Ron Winchell (Eclipse Sportswire)

9. Midnight Bourbon

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC

About: Joan Winchell and her son, Ron, are partners in Winchell Thoroughbreds, continuing the family's prominent racing and breeding operation started by the late Verne Winchell, Joan's husband and Ron's father. Verne Winchell, who died in 2002 at the age of 87, founded the doughnut company Winchell's and later was the CEO and chairman of the Denny's restaurant chain.

Khalid Abdullah, right. (Eclipse Sportswire)

10. Mandaloun

Owner: Juddmonte Farms

About: Khalid Abdullah, brother-in-law of King Salman of Saudi Arabia, passed away on Jan. 12, 2021. As a businessman, he owned 1% of JPMorgan Chase and Co. and founded the multi-national conglomerate Mawarid that is now run by his four sons. Mawarid is a group of 30 companies that run various business interests in construction, trading and export, electronics, Orbit satellite television, 50% ownership of American Express GCC, and has links to Yum! Brands, Revlon, Christian Dior, and other major brands.

The Klaravich crew at Keeneland in 2012. (Eclipse Sportswire)

11. Highly Motivated

Owner: Klaravich Stables

About: Seth Klarman discovered racing while growing up three blocks from historic Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Klarman, president of The Baupost Group, a very successful hedge fund, formed Klaravich Stables in 1993 with his friend from Baltimore, Jeff Ravich. They bought and raced horses together for about a decade until Ravich left the racing end of the partnership to start his own stable on the West Coast.

Helium after Tampa Bay Derby. (SV Photography)

12. Helium

Owner: D. J. Stables

About: The husband and wife team Leonard and Lois Green co-own D. J. Stable. Green, a CPA and lecturer at Babson College, is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Owner/President Management Program. He holds a master’s degree in Taxation, with Honors, from New York University. and an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Rutgers University. For almost 20 years, Green has taught Entrepreneurship and Family Business courses at Babson College. Green is also founder and chairman of New Jersey-based accounting and advisory firm “The Green Group.” The firm specializes in the Thoroughbred industry and has more than 700 equine-related clients, including many of the top-rated partnerships and syndications, as well as alliances with fellow owners and breeders, trainers, and jockeys.

Charlotte Weber, right, at Keeneland in 2017. (Eclipse Sportswire)

13. Soup and Sandwich

Owner: Live Oak Plantation

About: Charlotte C. Weber is the owner of Live Oak Plantation. Born Nov. 19, 1942 in Philadelphia, Weber is the granddaughter of Campbell Soup founder John T. Dorrance and 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 a member of The Jockey Club, a board trustee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, a board member of the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association, and a trustee of 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. Live Oak Stud in Ocala, Fla. is the breeding operation owned by Weber and Live Oak Plantation is the nom de course of Weber’s horses on the track.

Mike Repole (Eclipse Sportswire)

14. Dynamic One

Owners: Repole Stable, Phipps Stable, and St. Elias Stable

About: Repole Stable is owned by Mike Repole, a self-made New York billionaire who founded VitaminWater, Smartwater, BODYARMOR, and Pirate’s Booty. Repole has owned several top racehorses in his tenure in the Thoroughbred industry, most notably Stay Thirsty, Notacatbutallama, Stopchargingmaria, and Uncle Mo. Phipps Stable is the racing operation of the historic Phipps family: Henry Phipps was a childhood friend and business partner of Andrew Carnegie, and they made their fortunes together in the iron and steel business in the 19th Century. Now, Phipps Stable is headed by Daisy Phipps and is co-owned by her mother Ande and her three siblings. For information on St. Elias Stable, please see #5 Known Agenda.

China Horse Club, Winstar Farm celebrate 2018 Kentucky Derby win. (Eclipse Sportswire)

15. Sainthood

Owners: China Horse Club and WinStar Farm

About: China Horse Club was established by Teo Ah Khing as a lifestyle and Thoroughbred racing club in 2013. In 2018, they were part of the ownership group who campaigned Triple Crown winner Justify along with Sainthood’s co-owner WinStar Farm. In 2000, Kenny Troutt and Bill Casner, founders of Excel Communications, a long-distance telephone service and communications company, founded WinStar Farm after buying the 1,450-acre Prestonwood Farm property near Versailles, Ky., from brothers Art, Jack, and J.R. Preston. In 2010, Troutt bought out Casner’s portion of WinStar, and is now the sole owner. With the Race Track Chaplaincy of America, Troutt created the White Horse Award, presented annually to a farm or racetrack worker who performs an unselfish heroic act.

Concrete Rose, co-owned by BBN Racing. (Eclipse Sportswire)

16. Hidden Stash

Owner: BBN Racing

About: BBN Racing is an ownership syndicate founded by Brian Klatsky and Brendan O’Brien, friends who met in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Both work as wealth managers and carry their love of horse racing through their professional careers. Braxton Lynch, founding partner and racing manager of BBN Racing, is a lifelong Thoroughbred professional who brings sales and breeding experience to the team.

Terry Finley (Eclipse Sportswire)

17. O Besos

Owners: L. Barrett Bernard, Tagg Team Racing, and West Point Thoroughbreds

About: Dr. L. Barrett Bernard is a graduate of the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Bernard specializes in Emergency Medicine and practices at Flaget Memorial Hospital in Bardstown, Ky. Tagg Team Racing is a Louisville, Ky.-based ownership syndicate. West Point Thoroughbreds has amassed more than $52 million in purses dating back to 2007, during which time they’ve captured more than 45 graded stakes. The syndicate was named by founder Terry Finley as a tribute to his alma mater. He earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering at West Point in 1986 - earning a GPA that, he jokes, “was closer to the bottom of the class than the top.” Finley served as an artillery officer in the Army for eight years, attaining the rank of captain before his honorable discharge in 1994. The ownership group’s victories include a win in the 2017 Kentucky Derby with Always Dreaming.

Paul Fireman (WikiMedia Commons)

18. King Fury

Owners: Fern Circle Stables and Three Chimneys Farm

About: Fern Circle Stables is owned by American billionaire Paul Fireman. Fireman bought the U.S distribution rights to Reebok shoes in 1979 and built that company into an industry leader before selling it to Adidas in 2005 for $3.8 billion. He now owns Fireman Capital Partners, a private equity firm. Fireman and his wife, Phyllis, have three children and live near Boston. Together they co-founded the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Family Foundation, one of Massachusetts' largest private foundations. Three Chimneys Farm is one of the leading Thoroughbred breeding operations in Central Kentucky. The Midway, Ky. farm was founded by Robert and Blythe Clay more than 40 years ago and oversaw prominent stallions such as Seattle Slew, Dynaformer, and Rahy. The Borges Torrealba family in November 2013 acquired a controlling interest in Three Chimneys. Gonçalo Borges Torrealba serves as its chairman. Three Chimneys currently stands seven stallions, including 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, champion Will Take Charge, and 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice. 

B. Wayne Hughes (center) and Authentic’s connections. (Eclipse Sportswire)

19. Keepmeinmind

Owners: Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith, and Spendthrift Farm

About: Spendthrift Farm is the nom de course of B. Wayne Hughes. In 1972, driving along a Texas road, Hughes noticed a self-storage warehouse loaded to capacity, thought about the concept, and founded Public Storage. He parlayed a $50,000 investment into a fortune worth billions. 2021 marks the first Kentucky Derby for co-owners Cypress Creek Equine and Arnold Bennewith, while Spendthrift was co-owner of last year's victor Authentic.

Team Brooklyn Strong after the Remsen Stakes. (Adam Coglianese/NYRA)

20. Brooklyn Strong

Owner: Mark Schwartz

About: Mark Schwartz is a Brooklyn native who first visited a racetrack (Aqueduct) at age 7. Schwartz attended Brooklyn College before becoming an insurance executive. Brooklyn Strong, whom Schwartz bought for just $5,000, is the New Yorker’s very first racehorse. 

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