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National Treasure’s Owners Can Justify Success

It was Tom Ryan of SF Racing who put together the group that owns Preakness Stakes (G1) winner National Treasure .

It was trainer Bob Baffert who was the magnet that brought them all together.

The group that owns the son of Quality Road   is big enough to swamp the lines in a track program, listing the conglomerate of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, and Catherine Donovan.

Yet this 2023 success story in the middle jewel of the Triple Crown had its genesis with the 2018 Triple Crown sweep by the Baffert-trained Justify  .

Gavin Murphy’s SF Racing was among the original owners of Justify but sold its share of the colt’s racing rights so that Jack Wolf’s Starlight Racing and Kumin’s Head of Plains Partners could come aboard for racing purposes only. SF retained its share of Justify’s breeding rights.

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After the trio celebrated a Triple Crown sweep together, it was hardly a far-fetched notion that the three would join forces on a yearling venture. So, they targeted the 2018 yearling sales, bringing together an all-star team of bloodstock agents led by Donato Lanni. They bought about two dozen colts for more than $11 million and, in perhaps the most crucial part of the venture, sent them all to Baffert’s West Coast barn.

“I got to know Bob through Justify and I really loved everything about his approach, from managing training, to how he deals with injuries, to how he communicates with us as owners. I wanted to be more involved with Bob. That’s what it came down to. Bob’s work with Justify was among the greatest training jobs you’ll ever see,” Ryan said.

The group dubbed themselves “The Avengers,” each taking on the persona of a Marvel comic book character. Ryan became “Nick Fury,” Baffert “Captain America,” and the entire group was filled with heroes as that initial group yielded a trio of grade 1 winners and stallion deals in Authentic  , Eight Rings  , and Charlatan  .

Authentic was the superstar as he won the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) and was named 2020 Horse of the Year, eventually amassing a package of more than $35 million from Spendthrift Farm and its partners for his stallion rights.

Along the way, various partners joined the Big Three with Stonestreet and Masterson currently most prominent in that role. 

National Treasure continued the Triple Crown success with his May 20 win in the Preakness, joining the group’s Pinehurst   as a grade 1 winner. Among their other graded stakes winners are Messier , Rockefeller , Newgate , Hopkins , and Reincarnate .

This year will mark the group’s sixth venture, and hopes are as high as ever that they will do their shopping and digging and find another National Treasure.

“We have a great crop of 2-year-olds going to Bob this year and we will be at the major sales,” Ryan said. “It needs to be continuous. You can’t live off one horse seven years ago. Everyone lives in the now. It’s always about what you have in the pipeline. We run this as a business. We have fun with it, but it is a business and it needs to make money.”

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