The Kentucky Derby is tomorrow. Every year, my grandparents would host a party for the event. There was great food, and company; I would essentially bet on horses based on some combination of their names and general haste. Once every few years, I’d win like $20. Fun!
In any event, if you have previously deployed a similar wagering strategy, but would like to pick horses based on how endearing you find their owners’ backstory to be, let this serve as your guide:
Owner(s): Steve and Carolyn Coburn & Perry and Denise Martin
How’d they get rich? Oddly enough, we begin with owners who are comparatively not rich. The couples bought a horse for $8,000 and bred California Chrome, whom they have reportedly turned down over $6 million for. According to the Sacramento Bee, the Martins own Martin Testing Laboratories in Sacramento; Steve Coburn works in a factory that produces magnetic strips for credit cards while his wife, Carolyn, is retired.
Vicar’s In Trouble
Owner(s): Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey
How’d they get rich? After working in real estate, Kenneth Ramsey bought up cell phone network franchises in Georgia and Kentucky, and sold his company in 1994 for approximately $39 million.
Dance With Fate
Owner(s): Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable & Ciaglia Racing, LLC (Joe Ciaglia)
How’d they get rich? Joe Ciaglia owns California Skateparks, which designs skateboard parks and facilities for the X Games; Sharon Alesia is the widow of Frank Alesia, the former Hollywood actor and director who was involved with Bewitched, Laverne & Shirley, and The Odd Couple.
Owner(s): Centennial Farms
How’d they get rich? Centennial is an investment syndicate. Its president, Don Little Jr., has been involved with horses his whole life and played polo at an internationally competitive level.
Owner(s): My Meadowview Farm (Leonard Riggio)
How’d they get rich? Riggio is the founder and chairman of Barnes & Noble.
Owner(s): Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners
How’d they get rich? Eclipse is another investment syndicate, and its team is composed of horseracing lifers.
Owner(s): Starlight Racing (Jack and Laurie Wolf + Barbara and Donald Lucarelli)
How’d they get rich? Jack Wolf was the founding manager of the Atlanta-based hedge fund Columbus Partners; Donald Lucarelli sold his family business, Bellevue Builders Supply, in 2004.
Owner(s): Honors Stable Corp.
How’d they get rich? Honors Stable Corp is owned by Josie Martino Delfino and Salvatore Delfino, who owns a company in Venezuela that imports and exports wine.
We Miss Artie
Owner(s): Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey
How’d they get rich? See “Vicar’s In Trouble” above.
Ride On Curlin
Owner(s): Daniel J. Dougherty
How’d they get rich? Dougherty is a furniture dealer in Louisville, Kentucky.
Owner(s): Tanma Corporation (Susan Chu)
How’d they get rich? Susan Chu and her family moved to the US from Taiwan about 15 years ago. She apparently decided to get into horse racing after watching Super Saver and I’ll Have Another win recent Kentucky Derbies, but the Internet is coy about how she had the means to do so. (If you know, please drop us a line.)
Owner(s): Winchell Thoroughbreds
How’d they get rich? Winchell Thoroughbreds is owned by Joan Winchell, and her son Ron, who took over for family patriarch Verne, who passed away in 2002; Ron also owns a restaurant the Winchell’s Pub and Grill restaurant chain in Vegas.
General A Rod
Owner(s): Starlight Racing & Skychai Racing, LLC
How’d they get rich? For “Starlight”, see “Intense Holiday” above; Skychai Racing is owned by Jim Shircliff and Harvey Diamond. Shircliff had been the CEO and Chief Investment Officer of River Road Asset Management, which reportedly had $11 billion under management when it was sold this past March; Diamond is a doctor who owns Occupational Physicians Services in Louisville.
Owner(s): Spendthrift Farm (B. Wayne Hughes)
How’d they get rich? Hughes founded Public Storage — the largest self-storage chain in America — about 40 years ago, and has an estimated net worth of $2.2 billion.
Owner(s): C R K Stable LLC (Lee and Susan Searing)
How’d they get rich? Along with his brother, Lee Searing owns Searing Industries, a company that manufactures the welded steel tubing found in things such as scaffolding, racking systems, medical equipment, and dinette furniture.
Owner(s): Wounded Warrior Stables (George “Chip” McEwen III) & Anthony C. Robertson
How’d they get rich? McEwen owns a pharmaceutical distributorship in South Carolina; No information readily exists on Robertson.
Owner(s): WinStar Farm LLC and Twin Creeks Racing
How’d they get rich? WinStar is owned by Kenny Troutt and Bill Casner; Troutt founded Excel Communications and is worth an estimated $1.3 billion. Casner was also an early investor in Excel, and owns B&R equipment, which leases and sells construction equipment.
Owner(s): Skychai Racing LLC, Sand Dollar Stable, LLC, Terry Raymond & Jana Wagner
How’d they get rich? For Skychai, see General A Rod; Sand Dollar’s David Koenig is a Kentucky-based attorney; Terry Raymond is a Louisville native who works in real estate and owns a t-shirt company.
Owner(s): West Point Thoroughbreds (Terry Finley)
How’d They Get Rich? After graduating West Point and rising to Captain in the Army, Terry Finley founded the racing stable over 20 years ago. It’s not readily apparent if he has other sources of income, but he serves on the boards of the Catholic Leadership Institute and Jackie Robinson Foundation.
This post is dedicated to Frankie “Grammy” Weisburgh.