The Kentucky Derby is serious business to Kenny Troutt and the team at WinStar Farm.
Just how serious?
So serious that the farm, which bred 2003 winner Funny Cide and owned and bred 2010 winner Super Saver, has been represented in the race either as sole or co-owner with 16 starters in the last 10 editions.
So serious that 11 members of the 2016 stallion roster at WinStar Farm started in the Kentucky Derby.
So serious that Troutt, who accumulated his fortune in the telecommunications business, leaves many of the public social pomp and circumstance associated with the Derby to his family members and the WinStar team.
And so serious that this year Troutt even went against one of his own common practices when he showed up in the Churchill Downs stable area Monday morning.
“I want to tell you how excited I am, rarely do I come out for the work,” Troutt joked, decked out in a green windbreaker outside trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn while WinStar’s Arkansas Derby winner Creator cooled out under the shedrow following his half-mile breeze. “First of all it’s too early in the morning for me and you know, I’ve got to have Elliott next to me and make sure he’s telling me everything that’s going on. I’m the business part of it and everything is a mathematical formula with it, so I need Elliott to tell me how everything’s going physical wise.”
A few minutes earlier Troutt chatted with Taylor Made Farm’s Duncan Taylor when the subject of how much members of the Troutt family, including Kenny’s wife Lisa, and their children enjoy the Kentucky Derby.
Ever the promoter, Taylor prodded Troutt to tell the small group of member members how important exposing family and friends to the great race. Troutt obliged, detailing how the family gets ready for the race.
“(One of my sons), he loves all horse racing. He’s always on the phone to Elliott, ‘are you going to get this horse in’ and such and such,” Troutt said. “Our son in Santa Barbara, he goes both ways, he likes the horse racing a little bit and the social part a little bit. … Me, I’m strictly business (but) I’m emotional about it and everything …”
Troutt lived the dream he and longtime friend and former WinStar co-owner Bill Casner mapped out when Funny Cide and then Super Saver won the race.
Now he’s hoping for another victory with Creator, a maiden a little more than two months ago but now one of the race’s main contenders off a come-from-behind victory in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby April 16 at Oaklawn Park.
Purchased for $440,000 out of the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale, Creator is the type of prospect Troutt and his WinStar team, led by Elliott Walden, go looking for at the sales.
Walden said earlier this year that “two-turn, dirt colts” are the type, those who can compete in races like the Kentucky Derby or Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Sire power is an important element, too. They’ve got it with Creator, a son of Tapit, North America’s leading sire in 2014 and 2015 and the current leader for 2016 with two other contenders in the Derby field in Mohaymen and Lani.
“I tell you what, Creator is one of the best horses coming into the Derby we’ve had,” Troutt said. “He’s developed late, he’s really grown up and matured and he looks like the further he goes the better he likes it. If you’ve seen how he’s done in the last three or four races he’s really come into his own.”
Creator breezed an easy half Monday during the half-hour training window for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks contenders. He went in :50.60 under Abel Flores, his second work since his 1 1/4-length win over fellow Derby contender Suddenbreakingnews in the Arkansas Derby.