A Classy Champion, 1989 Belmont Stakes Winner Easy Goer
Dustin Potter did not have high expectations when he bought 50 shares at $50 apiece in an unraced 2-year-old based at Gulfstream Park.
“I figured I’d take a flier and, if it ran at Gulfstream, I could say I was part owner and I’d be excited. If it won a small undercard race somewhere, maybe I’d have the opportunity to go and be in the winner’s circle,” said Potter. “It was never the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.”
And yet, almost magically befitting a Good Magic colt named Mage, that is what happened following his $2,500 investment made through Commonwealth Thoroughbreds.
Regardless of what transpires in the Preakness Stakes on Saturday at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course, Mage may be remembered as the 15-1 longshot that gave the microshare movement a tremendous boost.
Commonwealth already was on the radar. Early offering Country Grammer turned into a rousing success with his ability to journey far and wide and deliver strong results. He won the $12 million Dubai World Cup after finishing second in the $20 million Saudi Cup last year. He again brought home a massive check for second place in this year’s Saudi Cup.
With almost $15 million in lifetime earnings, Country Grammer has returned approximately 10 times the initial investment to those who bought into him through Commonwealth. Jim Payne, 44, from Scottsdale, Ariz., was one of the lucky ones to be involved with Country Grammer. Not surprisingly, he was willing to roll those proceeds into Mage and other Commonwealth offerings. Fans can get in on the action for as little as $50 a share.
Commonwealth’s involvement with Mage has a meant-to-be feel. Trainer Gustavo Delgado dispatched his son, Delgado Jr., and bloodstock agent Ramiro Restrepo to Fasig-Tipton’s 2022 Midlantic 2-year-olds in training sale to search for young horses able to run classic distances. Delgado, a leading trainer in Venezuela for many years, came to the United States a decade ago. Part of his quest was to show he could win some of this nation’s premier races.
Delgado Jr. and Restrepo were drawn to the juvenile that became Mage. When the son called his father about the horse, the father authorized him to spend no more than $100,000. They were not alone in their interest, however. As the price escalated, so did their desire to have a horse that fit everything they were looking for.
When they made a winning bid of $290,000, an equal measure of excitement and concern set in. They would have to find partners – in a hurry. Commonwealth was the last to join along with the Delgado’s OGMA Investments, Restrepo and Sam Herzberg’s Sterling Racing. All have a 25% stake.
Success in business is about seizing opportunities. Payne, a technology entrepreneur and investor, saw that ability in Commonwealth co-founders Brian Doxtator and Chase Chamberlin. “I got the sense pretty early on that the two of them could really find winners,” he said.
So, he took his flier on West Coast-based Country Grammer, trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.
“Once Country Grammer started to really make money, it kind of reminds you what is possible in this business,” Payne said. “That being said, I never thought it would be possible to make it to the Derby.”
Payne did not disclose how many shares he bought in Mage. But he said, “I’ve got a pretty decent chunk of that 25%.”
There is no telling how high his return will be. And that is not counting the score he made at the betting windows.
“I definitely backed up the truck at the track,” Payne said. “When I saw those odds and with [favored] Forte scratched, I said, ‘15-1, this looks pretty good to me.’ ”
Mage returned $32.42 for every $2 win bet.
More than the money, Potter and Payne and all of the other Commonwealth investors who crowded into the winner’s circle will forever treasure the experience. An estimated 90 of the 391 shareholders attended the run for the roses.
Potter, 28, who works in real estate, will always be grateful he made the trip to Louisville from his New York City home. “We had a blast. It was a bucket-list trip regardless of whether we had a horse we had a stake in,” he said. “And it would have been the best weekend if we came in dead last.”
Potter represents an ideal demographic for racing as it works to appeal to younger audiences. That is not lost on Doxtator, who sees microshares as a way to attract them.
“I firmly believe in the future of racing,” Doxtator said. “I think we are one of many new actors who are trying to bring a new wave of fans, help people engage in a new way. We can open up this experience to a lot more people.”
Payne will forever remember sipping a celebratory mint julep, the roar of the crowd when Mage reached the winner’s circle, emotional jockey Javier Castellano tossing rose petals into the sky after his first Derby triumph in 16 attempts.
Then came the greatest moment of all. “I kissed the trophy,” Payne said of a memory that is priceless.