Leslie Brownell Combs Dies at Age 80

Son of Spendthrift Farm founder Leslie Combs was also a former president of farm.

Former Spendthrift Farm president Leslie Brownell Combs II died Dec. 29, 2013, in Lexington at age 80.

The son of Spendthrift founder Leslie Combs, widely credited with embracing the concept of stallion stations and syndications, he assumed management of Spendthrift from his father in 1974.

Under the younger Combs' leadership, Spendthrift continued as one of the leading breeding farms, counting the syndications of Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Affirmed for $12 million and $16 million, respectively, among its achievements.

Brownell Combs' tenure at the helm of Spendthrift was impacted by a downturn in the bloodstock market, and in 1983 the farm became the first major Thoroughbred entity to become a publicly traded company.

That was followed by a number of management changes, with Brownell Combs selling his interest in the farm in 1987, and it eventually entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Spendthrift founder Leslie Combs died in 1990 at age 88.

Spendthrift underwent several subsequent ownership changes following the bankruptcy action. It was purchased in 2004 by current owner B. Wayne Hughes and is once again among the leading breeding farms in Central Kentucky.

In addition to his Spendthrift Farm management, Combs was a former chairman of the Kentucky State Racing Commission and vice president of Breeders' Cup Ltd.

"We were greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Brownell Combs, who served the Thoroughbred racing and breeding industry with great distinction for many years," said Bill Farish, Breeders' Cup chairman. "As a founding member of the Breeders' Cup, and in his energetic service as a director on our board, Brownell and Spendthrift Farm played a pivotal role in the commitment and development of establishing our World Championship event, which seemed like an impossible dream at the time of its creation more than 30 years ago. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Combs family."

Milward Funeral Home in Lexington is in charge of arrangements, with a graveside service scheduled Jan. 6 at 11:30 a.m. EST Jan. 6 at Lexington Cemetery.