B. Wayne Hughes was looking for a nice little place in Central Kentucky where his grandchildren could visit and he could keep his broodmares. But when he realized Spendthrift Farm was available, he decided to buy a piece of history along with a farm that met his needs.
Hughes, the founder of Public Storage Inc. and a West Coast-based Thoroughbred owner for 25 years, on June 25 purchased Spendthrift's 733 acres from a partnership headed by Bruce Kline, who bought Spendthrift from Ted Taylor in 2000.
For more than a half-century before Taylor's 1994 purchase of Spendthrift at public auction, Spendthrift was the domain of the late Leslie Combs II, who named the farm after the 1879 Belmont Stakes winner bred by his great-grandfather, Daniel Swigert. Combs made Spendthrift an industry leader as a stallion station and in the yearling sales arena by combining good horsemanship with uncanny marketing and public relations skills.
Included in Hughes' purchase is Spendthrift's original stallion barn, which is currently not in use, and two other U-shaped stallion barns, one of which houses the 11 stallions currently standing at Spendthrift. There are at least nine other barns on the property and 85 paddocks.
Hughes said he will have a separate operation on the former Plum Lane Farm sold by Henry White to Klein in 2002. That encompasses about one-half of Spendthrift's acreage and is where Hughes will build his residence and keep the 50-60 mares that primarily have been boarded at Three Chimneys Farm. Hughes said he has no interest in developing his own stallion station or commercial breeding operation.
Hughes is coming off his best year as a Thoroughbred owner, winning his first Eclipse Award as owner of Action This Day, champion 2-year-old male and winner of the Bessemer Trust Breeders Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
"We've been looking for a couple of years, trying to find something that matched up with what we wanted," said Hughes. "We fell in love with Spendthrift--the history and the farm--even though it was much larger than we anticipated. I'm happy with the purchase. It makes me feel more a part of Kentucky."
Hughes declined to give a purchase price.