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Mathea Kelley

Optimizer May Carry Calumet Silks in Derby

Colt is a homebred for Brad Kelley, who is moving his horse operation to Calumet.

Calumet Farm's devil’s red and blue silks may be returning to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

Brad Kelley, the owner/breeder of Optimizer , one of 20 contenders in the May 5 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) has notified state stewards that he intends to have jockey Jon Court dressed in Calumet’s colors instead of his black with gold chevrons.

"As far as we know, he is riding with the Calumet silks tomorrow," said Barbara Borden, acting chief steward at Churchill Downs. "We did get the request and did not have a problem with it."

Kelley apparently acquired the rights to use Calumet’s famed silks as part of an arrangement announced May 3 that he was leasing the 800-acre Calumet Farm from a trust that bought the farm and all its assets for between $36 million and $40 million.

The farm, acquired by the Calumet Investment Group Trust, will now be home to Kelley’s Bluegrass Hall and Hurricane Hall racing and breeding operations. Charles Middleton, a Louisville attorney and the trustee for the Calumet Investment Group Trust, said he could not disclose who or how many people are stakeholders in the trust.

The farm’s seller is the de Kwiatkowski Trust, whose stakeholders are the children of the late Henryk de Kwiatkowski. He purchased the farm at auction in 1992 for $17 million and restored the property. De Kwiatkowski also raced horses in the Calumet silks.

Calumet Farm was founded in 1924 by William Wright. His son Warren Wright took over the farm in 1931. The farm enjoyed unprecedented success under Wright’s management and later his widow Lucille Wright. Calumet still owns the title of leading owner for the Kentucky Derby with eight wins, four seconds, and a third out of 21 starts.

Optimizer, a son of English Channel —Indy Picks, by A.P. Indy, is a longshot in the Derby field. He is trained by D. Wayne Lukas.