by Ryan Glasspiegel – Follow SportsRapport on Twitter
A couple weeks ago, I was watching the Kentucky Derby and I got a text from my friend Dean. “I wish, during the four hours of pre-game coverage for this three-minute race, they would tell us who the horses’ owners are and how they got rich,” it read. “It would make it a lot easier to figure out who to root for.”
After being temporarily upset that he had not had that observation two days earlier when it would have given me time to write a CAPTIVATING piece on the subject, I wondered why this doesn’t exist.
I know almost absolutely nothing about horseracing and don’t particularly desire to do anything about said ignorance. I went to the track once and I cannot describe to you how BORING it was. There was a race like once an hour, a huge status hierarchy among the spectators (neat, you have enough money that you can afford to lose a lot of it at the track, wear nice clothes, AND have a hot trophy wife decked out in a big hat), and I was hungover so I didn’t feel like drinking (which would have been the only redeemable part of the day).
Horse racing is fun for three days a year for the triple crown (and for the Derby it’s REALLY fun). The only bet I ever make on it is during my grandparents’ Kentucky Derby party. My methodology consists of looking at the betting slip for 10 seconds, picking the horse whose name I like best on my initial read through, and jotting it down quickly–the optimal strategy which enables me to get back to DOWNING hors d’oeuvres.
Perhaps picking the owner with the coolest American Dream story might be a better way?
After the jump, find the horses’ owners and, from what I was able to gather, information about their careers. I don’t really care at all about their racing histories–and you probably don’t either–just their business accomplishments. Some of these owners are SECRETIVE and have nary a Google trail. That being said, I was able to get at least a little bit on every owner except for one.
In order of pole position, the horses name are followed by their odds, trainer, and jockey (this information is from sportschatplace.com)
- Tiger Walk (30-1, Ignacio Correas IV, Kent Desormeaux) – Owned by Sagamore Farm. Founded in 1921 by Margaret Vanderbilt and given to her son Alfred G. Vanderbilt II for his 21st birthday and later sold to developer James Ward, Sagamore is now owned by Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour. Here is part of CNBC’s bio for Plank, a former special teams football captain for University of Maryland.
As chairman and chief executive officer of Under Armour, Mr. Plank oversees all aspects of the business. The company that recorded $17,000 in its first year of business, while then 23 year-old Mr. Plank was operating out of his grandmother’s basement in Washington, D.C., has since become a force in sporting goods and a Wall Street darling. High percentage growth and brand strength has propelled Under Armour to yearly revenues in excess of $500 million. Plank also works very closely on product creation and the marketing of the brand, including the award winning “PROTECT THIS HOUSETM” and “CLICK-CLACKTM” advertising campaigns
- Teeth of the Dog (15-1, Michael Matz, Joe Bravo) – Owned by J W Singer LLC. It was NOT easy to find any information about this but here’s what I was able to track down. JW Singer LLC is owned by Eric Fein and his son, Harris. Eric owns EAM Land Services, a title insurance company in Syosset, N.Y (his horse racing bio is on that link, too). Here’s its (not particularly useful) company description.
- Pretension (30-1, Christopher Grove, Javier Santiago) – Owned by Kidwells Petite Stable, the stable of Irving Kidwell, who is involved in real estate and construction in Maryland. I can’t find much more about him but he’s 87 years old and has been struggling with his health this week.
- Zetterholm (30-1, Richard Dutrow Jr., Junior Alvarado) – Owned by Winter Park Partners and its breeder Anthony Grey. I literally spent like 10 minutes looking on Google–an eternity and this day and age–and cannot find ANYTHING about them. MYSTERIOUS!!!! If you can know anything about Winter Park Partners, pretty please with sugar on top drop me a line.
- Went the Day Well (6-1, Howard Motion, John Velasquez) – Owned by Team Valor International (TVI) and Mark Ford. TVI is owned by Barry Irwin, a horseracing lifer. I was able to find a cached Breeder’s Cup bio of Irwin:
Irwin was formerly a racing journalist, who left fiction writing in 1969 to become a staff writer for The Blood-Horse. He returned to his home state to write for and later edit the Thoroughbred of California and write the Southern California column syndicated in Daily Racing Form. He also hosted radio and television programs on racing … During that period, he became an owner and won with his first two starters. Irwin left the Form at the close of the 1978 Del Mar meet to become a bloodstock agent on a full-time basis. His company, formed in 1979, was Pacifica Thoroughbreds … In the decade after leaving journalism, Irwin bred, raced, syndicated, bought and sold several hundred horses, including It’s the One, African Sky, Moscow Ballet and Torsion … In 1987, he made another career change, forming a partnership with longtime friend Jeff Siegel and two other shareholders in Clover Racing Stables. Irwin and Siegel went out on their own in 1992 with Team Valor. They operated the business together until 2007 when Irwin bought out Siegel and renamed the stable Team Valor International. Siegel wanted to devote his energies to his position as an on-air host and analyst for Horse Racing Television. In their 21-year partnership, they won 170 stakes races and 21 Grade 1 races. … The stable has about 65 horses in training at any given time …Team Valor syndicates horses to multiple owners for a share in the expenses and profits. Each horse is a separate limited liability company (LLC), with its own federal tax number and bank account … Team Valor International partnerships annually donate one percent of their racetrack earnings worldwide and Team Valor itself matches that figure for The Race For Education, a charity offering college scholarships to the offspring of backstretch and farm workers … Irwin, a member of the board of The Race For Education, was honored by the organization in 2006 with its inaugural “Valedictorian Award.”
Mark Ford owns a horse training center (named after himself) in New York:
Scope of operation: Two hundred harness horses are stabled there, and many trainers operate out of Ford’s center, including Joe Anderson, Nat Varty and Carmine Fusco. About 60 of the horses are trained by Ford and his 20-person staff.
His barns also are frequently used by trainers and owners to locate horses while they prep for big stakes races at Yonkers, the Meadowlands or Pocono Downs. Among the horses that have been at Ford’s are Shadow Play, the 2008 Little Brown Jug winner, and Somebeachsomewhere, the 2008 horse of the year.
- Creative Cause (6-1, Mike Harrington, Joel Rosario) – Owned by Heinz Steinmann, who immigrated to the US from Switzerland when he was 16 years old. Pretty interesting story:
His father started the Holiday Hill (now Mountain High) ski resort near Wrightwood, CA while Heinz majored in hospital administration at UCLA and captained the university’s ski team. Although he took them to the national championships after an undefeated season, Steinmann never thought of skiing competitively for a living, although a love for the sport flowed through his veins. Taking over his dad’s ski resort was the closest he would ever come to that. While still in college, he met and married a girl he met from Studio City. Still happily married for 47 years, Heinz and Lora have 11 children and 36 grandchildren.
Steinmann bought his first horse in 1976 and would sell the ski resort in 1984. His CTBA profile linked above has more details about his exploits in horseracing.
- Bodemeister (8-5, Bob Baffert, Mike Smith) – Owned by Zayat Stables and Southern Equine Stables. Zayat Stables is owned by Ahmed Zayat, who was the subject of a 2010 New York Times profile:
A self-described entrepreneur, Zayat built a beer distributorship, Al Ahram Beverages Company, in Egypt, his home country. In 2002, Heineken bought the company for $280 million. Zayat remained chairman of the company until 2007, but by then he had become among North America’s biggest spenders at horse auctions.
Zayat bought his first horses in 2005. In 2006, he paid $4.6 million for a yearling he named Maimonides, after the medieval Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides, with the hope of promoting peace among Arabs and Jews, he said.
Soon Zayat’s horses were winning some of the most prestigious races in the United States. In 2008, Zayat Stables won nearly $6.9 million to lead all American thoroughbred owners in earnings, and in 2009, he campaigned Pioneerof the Nile, the runner-up in the Kentucky Derby.
Southern Equine Stables is owned by Michael Moreno. Here’s his professional bio:
Professional Background: Owns and runs Dynamic Industries, Inc. (DII) an oil and gas business based in Houston and Louisiana, as well as the Moreno Group LLC, which encompasses both DII and other companies … In 1998, Moreno purchased DII and under his leadership the company has transformed itself into a full-service construction company … DII has grown from a one dimensional offshore hookup company that employed 150 to a diverse and integrated full-service construction company with over 2,000 employees, working in excess of 4,500,000 man-hours per year, domestically and throughout the world … DII is currently operating and executing projects in Nigeria, Angola, Venezuela and Trinidad .
- Daddy Nose Best (10-1, Steve Asmussen, Julian Leparoux) – Owned by Bob and Kathy Zollars. Via Inc:
Bob Zollars is the co-founder of Huitt-Zollars, an architecture and engineering firm based in Dallas. The company, which has several offices throughout the United States, has completed projects ranging from office buildings to highways to bridges. Bob Zollars admits his engineering and entrepreneurial background come into play when racing horses. “In engineering, the discipline you’re taught, there are things that work and things that don’t,” he told the Courier Journal in April. “You start deviating from that and you can have disasters.”
- I’ll Have Another (5-2, Doug O’Neill, Mario Gutierrez) – The Kentucky Derby winner is owned by John Paul Reddam, who founded (I Lost Another Loan to) Ditech . Reddam sold the mortgage lender to GM in 1999. The former Cal State philosophy professor started the online consumer loan firm Cash Call in 2003. He is an avid Detroit Red Wings fan. Here’s a slightly dated but pretty detailed profile on his racing history.
- Optimizer (30-1, D. Wayne Lukas, Corey Nakatani) – Owned by Blugrass Hall. With an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion, Bluegrass Hall owner Brad Kelley is #764 on the Forbes billionaire list (#274 in the United Stated). In 2005, NY Times writer Nina Munk did all the research so I don’t have to–she saw him on that year’s Forbes List, couldn’t find anything on Google, and began to look into him:
The truth is, if you buy up 1.25 million acres of ranching land across southwestern Texas, Florida, and parts of New Mexico, as Mr. Kelley has done recently, you can’t escape attention forever. If you proceed to dedicate parcels of that land to wildlife conservation, as Mr. Kelley has also done, you’re practically crying out to be noticed. Eventually someone like Mr. Kelley, who’s spending millions of dollars conserving black rhinos, white rhinos, pygmy hippos, okapi, anoas, impalas, white-bearded wildebeests, Nile lechwe, Eastern bongos and Beisa oryx is going to be the subject of an article in The New York Times.
Later, Munk writes:
Here’s the business story: In 1991, when few wanted to be anywhere near the tobacco business, Mr. Kelley started a cigarette company from scratch. Called Commonwealth Brands, and established with a handful of employees in Bowling Green, Ky., it set out to undercut the big tobacco companies by producing discount “branded generic” cigarettes. In 2001, just 10 years after starting the company, Mr. Kelley sold Commonwealth to Houchens Industries for $1 billion in cash. By then, Commonwealth Brands was the fifth-largest cigarette maker in the country, with sales approaching $800 million. Its top brand, USA Gold, was, and still is, the nation’s eighth-best-selling cigarette.
Asked for the secret to his success, Mr. Kelley replied: “I like to think it was discipline and patience and avoiding pitfalls and working for the long term – a whole lot of corny things that’ll make me come off looking like an idiot in your article,” he answered, before adding quickly: “I’m sure as heck not Horatio Alger. There are a lot of people out there who are real smart and work real hard, and it doesn’t happen for them. I just happened to be the one that it did. Sometimes you get dealt a good hand.”
- Cozzetti (30-1, Dale Romans, Jose Lezcano) – Owned by Albaugh Family Stables, a Des Moines-based racing operation owned by Dennis Albaugh and his son in-law Jason Loutsch. Also containing his racing bio (once again, I honestly don’t really care), the Breeders Cup has Albaugh’s professional bio:
From a farming family, Albaugh’s older brother took over the family’s business, and knowing it wouldn’t support him as well, Dennis went to college, then for seven years, sold fertilizer, chemicals and seeds for a local co-op. In 1979, he started Albaugh, Inc., an agricultural chemical company from the basement of his home in Ankeny, a suburb of Des Moines. Though Albaugh barely turned a profit in the ’80s, today Albaugh, Inc. is a $33 million a year generic producer of agricultural chemicals, and Albaugh is listed by Forbes, Inc., with assets of $1.5 billion … Most of the company’s profit is generated from the manufacturing and sales of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide … Company has sales in 48 states, 44 countries and has over 3,800 employees … Albaugh has also developed two housing projects in Ankeny and has served in leadership positions with the Ankeny Chamber of Commerce and Ankeny Businessmen’s Club
I’m not sure if it’s his primary occupation or not but Loutsch appears to own CycloneFanatic.com, an Iowa State fan site.