The Forbes 400 is an annual ranking of the richest Americans, and typically includes a few racehorse owners. The people on the list got there from one of two means, either they inherited their vast wealth (and expanded it) or they made it in business.

The owners of the winners of the 2013 Triple Crown races follow the identical pattern.

Orb, the Kentucky Derby victor, was bred and owned by Stuart Janney III and Ogden Mills Phipps. These fashionably educated first cousins descend from old and extreme wealth—Henry Phipps, Ogden L. Mills, and the Livingston family from early America, and their roots go way back in Thoroughbred racing at the highest level.

Brad Kelley, owner of Preakness winner Oxbow , is the only winning connection in the 2013 Triple Crown who is wealthy enough ($1.9 billion) to be included on the Forbes 400 at number 250. Forbes describes Mr. Kelley as a self-made man with a high-school diploma (who dropped out of college four times and never earned a degree)…and writes:

“Brad Kelley made his fortune from discounted cigarette brands like USA Gold, Bull Durham and Malibu. He sold the business, Commonwealth Brands, for $1 billion in 2001 to conglomerate Houchens Industries. Now a rancher; he is one of the top five landowners in the U.S. with 1.7 million acres in Texas, Florida and New Mexico. He is breeds and races thoroughbred horses. He purchased the historic Calumet Farm in Lexington, Kentucky in May 2012…”

Cothran Campbell, managing partner of the Belmont-winning Palace Malice, dropped out of two colleges, but founded and later sold a premier Atlanta, Georgia, advertising agency and pioneered the concept of racing partnerships.

Mr. Kelley and Mr. Campbell took the path followed by such famous college-dropouts as Bill Gates of Microsoft, Steve Jobs of Apple, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Certainly, all of them are highly intelligent people, who could easily have earned a college degree, but had entrepreneurial callings that did not require it.

Mr. Campbell’s popularization of racing partnerships has been a boon to the sport and Mr. Kelley’s purchase of Calumet Farm saved an historic site from development.

Mr. Janney and Mr. Phipps have used part of their great wealth to not only own fine Thoroughbred bloodstock but also to give back so much to improve the sport of racing.

Horse racing is fortunate to have such a Forbes-like mixture of owners.

Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business