Exhilarating Derby win for Lexington based owners, Spendthrift Farm


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Spendthrift Farm is celebrating Sunday, after its horse, ‘Authentic,’ held the lead in the last stretch to win the 146th Kentucky Derby.

‘Authentic’ is Spendthrift’s first Derby win in about 40 years. The last, 1979 Triple Crown winner ‘Seattle Slew.’ And a first-ever Derby win for Spendthrift Farm owner B. Wayne Hughes who bought the farm in 2004, according to the Spendthrift Farm website.

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Spendthrift Farm President, Eric Gustavson, said Hughes getting to see this win is another layer of excitement.

“The best part of it all is that it got to happen for our owner [Hughes],” Gustavson said.

Just by looking at the date, Sept. 5 instead of May 5, this year’s derby was unusual. No fans in the stands, those that could attend had to wear masks and hundreds of protesters right outside Churchill Downs.

Right before the race, Spendthrift Farm saw another turn of events. It’s other horse, ‘Thousand Words’ reared up in the Paddock, causing a hectic moment. ‘Thousand Words’ was scratched.

“We went from the absolute lows of this game to the absolute highs in the space of about 45 minutes, so I think that’s sort of added to the shock value of all of this,” Ned Toffey, General Manager of Spendthrift Farm, said.

Shock of a dream coming true, a Kentucky Derby win.

Gustavson recalled the final stretch.

“Realizing, oh my gosh, he’s going to win this thing. And then the big favorite and you know this sort of storybook, a big favorite [‘Tiz the Law’] is right on his on his heels and threatening and he just never got there. So, it was fantastic and just so exhilarating and thrilling,” Gustavson said.

All this, while hundreds protested outside Churchill Downs, some saying why have the Derby at all during a time of unrest.

“It was a kind of a mixed emotional experience for a lot of us,” Gustavson said. “It didn’t cast a pall over it, but it made you stop and think, which I think is appropriate.”

Spendthrift Farm isn’t the only owner of ‘Authentic’. There’s 5,300 more, if you can believe it.

Thanks to a new startup called MyRacehorse, which is designed to make the horse racing industry more accessible.

“As a startup that’s still kind of getting going, to have this moment and get this much awareness and context about our brand, I mean, it’s a dream come true from a business perspective,” Michael Berchens said.

Behrens is the Founder of MyRacehorse, which is based in California.

He said he was ready to paint the town after the big win, quickly realizing in Lexington there’s a 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants, another oddity of the 146th Derby.

“We opened our laptops, got a couple of drinks and watched the race again about 150 times,” Behrens said.

‘Authentic’ has some more racing in his future before he retires to his second job as a Stallion back at Spendthrift Farm.

Oh and, ‘Authentic’s’ sire, ‘Into Mischief’ lives at Spendthrift Farm. He was quite curious about ‘Authentic’s’ victory blanket.


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Monica Harkins joined the ABC 36 News team in June 2019 as a Multimedia journalist and Anchor/Producer. She’s born and raised in Austin, Texas and headed “North,” as she calls it, to study broadcast journalism and business at the University of Missouri. While at Mizzou she anchored and reported for KOMU 8 News, an NBC affiliate in Columbia, Missouri all four years. During her childhood she played almost every sport, but they always called her “Hollywood” for her love of theatre. In high school, she realized her excitement for theatre and performing was only a small piece of the puzzle. It’s story telling that’s her passion. She’s especially passionate about social media and creative platforms to tell stories. Her most recent experiment is being a FAA certified drone pilot. As a proud Texan she says she’s made of country music, Southern hospitality and Sweet Tea. When she’s not at work you can find her trying new recipes, listening to crime podcasts, reading the latest romance novel or rockin’ out to live music with friends. She says she’s only a tweet or Facebook message away, so say hi and send her the latest on your community. @MonicaHarkinstv or Mharkins@wtvq.com