David L. Mullins, who operated the Doninga bloodstock agency, died Aug. 18 at Saint Joseph Hospital's hospice center in Lexington after a lengthy illness. He was 51.
A native of Ireland who was immensely proud of his heritage, Mullins was not only a successful agent but was also actively involved in many charitable and industry organizations. His passions included the High Hope Steeplechase, Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club, all of which benefited from his energies over the years.
Doninga was named for the entity that his grandfather, William Mullins, purchased in Co. Kilkenny, Ireland, in 1922. David Mullins relocated to the U.S. in 1976. In 2001, Mullins told The Blood-Horse he “was the first Irishman to set up roots in the Lexington area.” He later was employed at Spendthrift, Airdrie, and Domino Stud prior to establishing his 110-acre Doninga Farm in 1985.
In 1986, he purchased his first horse under the Doninga name, paying $500 for the 26-year-old mare Ivory Tower. Two years later, the first yearling for Doninga out of Ivory Tower was sold for $63,000, setting the standard of success Mullins would achieve over the next two decades. During that time, Doninga sold 51 stakes producers and 90 stakes horses, including five grade I winners, four grade II winners, and 11 grade III winners.
In 1995, Doninga sold Baby Zip privately to Frank Stronach and sold Drina to Dan Dixon for $50,000. Baby Zip went on to produce grade I winner City Zip and multiple grade I winner Ghostzapper. Drina produced Spain, who was the all-time leading female earner at the time of her retirement.
At the 2001 Keeneland November breeding stock sale, Doninga was the leading consignor by average, with the consignment including Saoirse, who sold for $2.2 million.
Mullins was a member and former director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers’ Club, a member of the Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association, and second vice president of Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, a non-profit organization established to provide horseback riding for therapeutic purposes and social and recreational activities.
Arrangements for Mullins are incomplete. He is survived by his son, Chase, and daughter Dara. Funeral will be held Saturday, Aug. 23, at 11 a.m. at Kerr Brothers Funeral Home-Main Street, in Lexington. Visitation will be from 4-6 and 7-9 p.m. Friday, with a Rosary Service at 8:45 p.m. In Lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, P.O. Box 13155, Lexington, KY 40511.