NEIGH LISTERS

Steven Spielberg, MC Hammer and More Stars Who’ve Owned Derby Horses (PHOTOS)

From Steinbrenner to M.C. Hammer, celebrities’ thoroughbreds have Run for the Roses. But whose horse won?

Steven Spielberg, George Steinbrenner, and M.C. Hammer once entered thoroughbreds in the Kentucky Derby. Plus, the celebrity owner who won the Run for the Roses.

AP Photo; Getty Images

M.C. Hammer

In 1991, M.C. Hammer founded Oaktown Stable, which produced 21 thoroughbreds in its short lifespan. The following year, it was Hammer Time at the Kentucky Derby. Under legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Oaktown entered Dance Floor—great-grandson of Hall of Fame horse Native Dancer—in the Derby and finished in the money, third place. Four years later, Hammer was out of money and horse racing—he filed for bankruptcy.

Getty Images (2)

Steven Spielberg

Having produced Seabiscuit in 2003, Steven Spielberg fell in love with the sport of horse racing. That same year, he, co-producer Frank Marshall, and the film’s director bought a 10 percent stake in Atswhatimtalknbout, who became a Derby favorite because of the star connection. But there was no Hollywood ending in the 2003 Kentucky Derby: Atswhatimtalknbout finished fourth.

Getty Images (2)

Berry Gordy

He produced plenty of No. 1 acts as the founder of Motown, but when it came to racing at Churchill Downs, Berry Gordy was just an also-ran. His 1994 Kentucky Derby entry, Powis Castle, finished an unimpressive eighth out of 14 horses. And though he also ran unplaced in the Preakness, Powis Castle did go on to win four stakes races before retiring.

Getty Images (2)

Rick Pitino

Even before he became the basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, Rick Pitino was involved in horse racing. And a year after he left UK to coach the Boston Celtics, Pitino kept his ties to the Bluegrass State by founding Celtic Pride Stable, which has run two horses in the Kentucky Derby. In 1998, under Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, Halory Hunter finished just out of the money, fourth place in the Derby. Three years later, Celtic Pride entered A.P. Indy—grandson of the Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew—but he had an even more disappointing finish, seventh place.

AP Photo; Getty Images

Elizabeth Arden

Though only three fillies have won the Kentucky Derby in its 137 runnings, female owners have fared much better at Churchill Downs, including Penny Chenery, who bred the great Secretariat. In the 1930s, cosmetics mogul Elizabeth Arden opened Maine Chance Farm, which by 1945, was the top money-winning stable in the country. But the next year, tragedy struck when a fire at a Chicago racetrack destroyed 22 of her thoroughbreds. Spared, however, was Jet Pilot, who went on to win the 1947 Kentucky Derby in a photo finish.

Getty Images; AP Photo

Burt Bacharach

“There is nothing like the feeling of walking into a winner’s circle,” composer Burt Bacharach once said of horse racing. “I’ve been in the game too long not to know everything that can go wrong.” Indeed, the acclaimed composer won with the very first horse he entered in a race in 1968, Battle Royal—and then lost more than 40 straight races. Despite great success as an owner, Bacharach hasn’t had much luck at the Derby: His 1994 horse, Soul of the Matter, finished fourth. The next year, Afternoon Deelites, came in eighth.

Getty Images (2)

Terry Bradshaw

He may have won four Super Bowls as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Terry Bradshaw didn’t have much luck against the colts in the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Bradshaw became a minority owner of Mission Impazible, which won the Louisiana Derby in his home state, but the horse finished an unimpressive ninth at Churchill Downs.

AP Photo (2)

Jack Klugman

Like his most famous character, Oscar Madison, actor Jack Klugman has always loved horse racing. In 1980, he entered his namesake thoroughbred, Jaklin Klugman, in the Derby and the horse finished third to Genuine Risk, the second filly to win the race. But he’s not giving up his dream yet. As Klugman said a few years ago, “I’ve promised myself I won’t die until I win the Kentucky Derby.”

Cynthia Hunter, AFP / Getty Images

George Steinbrenner

As the owner of Kinsman Farm, George Steinbrenner had the same passion for winning horse races as he did baseball championships. The Yankees’ longtime Boss owned or partially owned six thoroughbreds entered in the Kentucky Derby over the years, including Steve’s Friend in 1977 and Concerto in 1994. But it was Bellamy Road who broke Steinbrenner’s heart. Favored coming into the first leg of the 2005 Triple Crown, Bellamy Road faded down the stretch and came in seventh. (The race was won by longshot Giacomo, the second biggest upset in Derby history.) After the finish, trainer Nick Zito told reporters the Boss’s reaction to the loss: “Just keep trying.”