B. Wayne Hughes
B. Wayne Hughes died peacefully on Wednesday at his home on his beloved Donation Thrift Farm with a loving family by his side.
The longtime visionary and leader of horse racing – best known in the industry for reinvigorating Spendthrift – was 87 years old.
Hughes was one of the most influential figures in the sport of the 21st. He bought Donation Thrift in 2004 and traded his California residence for a life on the Lexington farm. Hughes quickly began restoring the historic brand and its land, renovating almost all of the farm’s distinctive structures, and returning Spendthrift as a profitable commercial grower.
In 2008 he presented his first four stallions in the home race under the direction of the aspiring king sire Malibu Moon, who died this May at the age of 24. Hughes was set to revolutionize the relationship between stallion and mare owners through groundbreaking programs, most notably Share The Upside, which he developed to reward the breeder with a vested interest in a stallion. Under Hughes, Spendthrift’s slogan became “The Breeders’ Farm” and he operated on a motto often heard by his staff: “Breeders are the backbone of our industry”.
“We have to take care of the breeder and level the playing field between the stallion owner and the breeder,” said Hughes at the launch of Share The Upside in 2010. “They have people here, they have a farm, they have to sell their foals, they have to have a chance to make money. I have to offer the best investment programs that I can. Breeders are involved in the production of these stallions, so they should also share in the success. “
The inaugural stallion he offered as part of the Share The Upside program was his home winner Into Mischief, who, after a meteoric rise to the top of the stallion lines, is one of the most valuable horses in the world. Into Mischief is the reigning Champion general sire in North America in 2019 & 2020 and is again at record speed in 2021.
Hughes also experienced his greatest success as a racehorse owner with close relatives of Into Mischief. Beholder, a younger half-sister of the great sire, fought in Hughes’ famous quartered purple and orange colors to become one of only three female horses in history to quadruple after receiving the Eclipse Award in 2012, 2013, 2015 Champion became & 2016. She was three times Champion of the Breeders’ Cup and won 11 Grade Ones before she retired to Spendthrift, where she currently lives as a broodmare.
After Beholder dominated the males at the 2015 Pacific Classic (G1) in Del Mar at 8¼ lengths, Hughes said, “I have had a few good horses in the past but she is the first horse I am lucky enough to own . I’ve never had this feeling. I think that’s called pride. “
Last year, Hughes succeeded, in his 50th Authentic, had become the epitome of the pioneering spirit of Hughes, whose innovative marketing had given Into Mischief the best opportunity 10 years earlier to become a successful sire. Authentic also represented that spirit through MyRacehorse.com, an emerging online horse racing company that Hughes bravely stood up for by offering everyone a share-based micro-portion of their Kentucky Derby candidate for $ 206.
Almost a year ago Authentic won the derby for Hughes, his partners and 5,314 everyday people who had shopped and came along on the trip. Authentic would win the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) against older horses last November, with Hughes being in Keeneland to take the trophy with the winners. It would be the colt’s last start before he retired from Spendthrift and was named North American “Horse of the Year” in 2020.
Born Bradley Wayne in Gotebo, Oklahoma, Hughes grew up as the son of a farmer. He moved to California as a child and was introduced to horse racing by his father, who first took him to Santa Anita Park when he was 11. Hughes was known for having an unprecedented work ethic from a young age and starting a newspaper delivery as a teenager to pay for college. He served as an officer in the Navy and graduated from the University of Southern California before gaining tremendous business success and setting up companies like Public Storage and American Homes 4 Rent.
Shortly after retiring as CEO of Public Storage in 2002, his main focus was horse racing and promoted his first champion racehorse in 2003 when the 2-year-old colt Action This Day won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Hughes ‘Home route from Santa Anita. It would be his first of six Breeders’ Cup wins and six Eclipse Award wins.
After being named the 2020 Galbreath Award Winner by the University of Louisville, Hughes said, “Thoroughbred horse racing has been a passion of mine since my father took me to races when I was a boy. It’s something he and I could share, and I’ve been fortunate enough to make it a huge part of my life and share it with so many who are close to my heart. There are few thrills greater than what horse racing can offer and it is our responsibility to improve this great sport better so that future generations can enjoy it as much as I do. “
Knowing Wayne Hughes means knowing that he loves life, his country, the USC and its football team, the horses and his family. After the death of his youngest son Parker in 1998, Hughes became passionate about the cure for childhood leukemia and eventually achieved amazing results in the field.
Hughes preceded his father William Lawrence, mother Blanche, and son Parker in death. He leaves behind his wife Patricia, son Wayne Jr. (Molly), daughter Tamara Gustavson (Eric), grandsons Kylie Barraza (Pat), Skylar Hughes, Grant and Greer Gustavson, his sister Sue Caldwell and Frank family, Bill, Allen and many beloved cousins and friends.
Instead of flowers, the family is soliciting donations to the B. Wayne Hughes Fund at UK HealthCare, PO Box 34184, Lexington, KY, 40588.
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