Home / Features / Community / Patrick Fertitta Wins At The Kentucky Derby
Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Patrick Fertitta Wins At The Kentucky Derby


Part-ownership of horse makes winning more exciting

Ever since becoming a horse racing fan at age 15, Patrick Fertitta has looked forward to the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Derby Day. But while the odds have been short, Fertitta would be in front of a television watching; the odds were much longer that one day, Fertitta would have ownership in a Derby winner.

That is, until earlier this month when Mage hit the finish line first.

A Kentucky-bred Chestnut Colt of which Fertitta has part ownership, Mage won the sport’s most famous race on May 6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

Fertitta, along with his mother (Agatha), aunt (Allie), uncle (Joe) and a friend, each owns a portion of Mage, which broke from the starting gate at odds of 15-1.

“When Mage crossed the finish line, it wasn’t being able to say my bet won,” Fertitta said. “It was being able to say my horse won. That’s something you cannot put a price on. Whether I had one share, or 1,000 shares, or 100,000 shares, that is something you cannot put a value or a price tag on.”

Fertitta, who is also an ordained minister, a restauranteur and an author, got into horse ownership a little more than a year ago. He bought shares in Country Grammer, which is now fifth on the all-time thoroughbred earnings list ($14.8 million). Seeing Grammer’s success and Fertitta’s excitement stoked the interest of Fertitta’s family. So, Fertitta formed a partnership called Omerta’ Thoroughbreds. The cost of ownership in a horse is $50 per share. Fertitta won’t say how many shares Omerta’ owns, though the partnership has a stake in seven horses.

“My mom, she’s been watching the Derby for, gosh, since she was a kid, too. I asked her, ‘Mom, did you ever think you would own a Kentucky Derby winner?’ She said, ‘Nope. This is phenomenal!’”

Despite the race being shown on live television, Fertitta, friends and family who gathered at the Petroleum Club for a watch party were the last to learn Mage had won.

“When I was setting it (Apple TV) up, I made a mistake. I ended up pausing the unit. There was about a 30-minue delay. I didn’t realize it. We were watching everything, and one of my friends said, ‘This thing’s running late!’ I said, ‘Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on.’ Then about 15 or 20 minutes before the race actually went off for us, I started getting congratulatory texts, and my mind is thinking what in the world is going on here?”

What was “going on” is that Mage – ridden by 45-year-old Venezuelan Javier Castellano – spent the first half of the mile-and-a-quarter race in the back of the pack. But as he approached the far turn, Mage began a strong run on the outside, surged to the lead with a furlong to go, and held off Two Phil’s by a length for the winner’s share of $1.86 million.

“My friend called me over.” He had gotten a message on his phone from a news service that said Mage won the Kentucky Derby. He said, ‘Patrick, look at this! I said, ‘Yeah, I’m getting a lot of congratulatory texts. I’m guessing he won!’ I said, ‘Don’t say anything to anyone else because they don’t know.’”

Having advance notice did wonders for Fertitta’s health.

“That saved me from probably having a heart attack during that race. At least knowing the outcome – I didn’t know how it happened – so I still got the excitement of knowing how it happened. Knowing he won kept me from falling out on the floor.”

It also kept Fertitta from falling asleep until 4 o’clock the next morning.

“I think my phone was buzzing until midnight. But I just laid in bed staring at the ceiling, with my mind just reeling. (I got) messages from people literally all over the world – England, Italy, Indonesia – from friends that I have who live in all parts of the world. It’s been totally surreal.”

The field of 18 horses ran the mile-and-aquarter distance in just over two minutes. But it will take a lot longer for Fertitta to forget the thrill of his horse crossing the finish line.

“Maybe one day when they write my obituary, they will say he was part owner of a Kentucky Derby horse. That’s going to go with me for the rest of my life.”

Mage is scheduled to continue his quest to win the Triple Crown when he runs in the 148th Preakness Stakes May 20 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.


The Forum News