In 2003, less than a month before the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), J. Paul Reddam bought a 25% interest in Kentucky Derby contender Ten Most Wanted.
“If somebody tells you the Derby doesn’t mean that much to them, they’re lying,” Reddam said at the time.
Nearly a decade later and after having watched Ten Most Wanted, Wilko , Great Hunter, and Liquidity try and fall short in the Run for the Roses, Reddam is back under the Twin Spires with I'll Have Another and a lot more perspective on the world’s most famous race.
“I might buy horses for the next 30 years and not win the Derby, and that’s OK,” said the Calif.-based head of the CashCall lending company. “Bobby Frankel was the best trainer of the recent era and he never won it. Sure, we buy some 2-year-olds at auction, but we also buy grass fillies in Europe, so our operation isn’t geared just for the Derby. Certain people live for it. My dream would be to have a competitive runner in every division of the Breeders’ Cup.”
Reddam, a native of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, began in racing as a high-school gambler, going to Windsor Raceway, where his friend was a groom, to bet the Standardbreds. The game tapped into an appetite he’s always had for risk. Reddam would eventually find his way to California, teaching philosophy and logistics at the University of Southern California, and his background in philosophy comes in handy with the horses.
“I remember being at the barn before Ten Most Wanted’s Derby,” said Reddam, “and (trainer) Wally Dollase said, ‘In one hour we’ll have won the Derby,’ and I fully believed him. Now I fully believe people shouldn’t say things like that. I was highly confident then, but I’ve learned to be less confident just on a probability perspective, since there’s a 95% chance you’ll lose.”
Reddam hasn’t lost much with I’ll Have Another, a $35,000 purchase as a 2-year-old who this season has taken the Robert Lewis Stakes (gr. II) and the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) on his way to Louisville. He gives some leeway to Dennis O’Neill, who identifies potential purchases at auctions.
“We don’t exactly have the machine-like precision that some businesses run on,” Reddam noted. “Basically it comes down to Dennis catching me in a good mood. There’s not a plan or a budget per se. Some years we haven’t spent much money, but this year, for whatever reason, we’ve bought about 15 2-year-olds at sale.”
Reddam is also on the lookout for buying proven horses, but has found he needs to be selective in that pursuit.
“People throw horses at you continually,” he said, “and most of them you have to swat away like flies.”
Reddam has a breeding operation as well, with most of his 30 mares visiting his grade I-winning stallion Square Eddie, whose first-crop foals are now yearlings.
“Everyone is always excited about the babies until we find out whether they can run or not,” said Reddam.
Reddam can further concentrate on his Thoroughbred operation now that his beloved Detroit Red Wings have been eliminated from the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. At least until he wins the Derby, Reddam’s most memorable moments in sports came when he won Breeders’ Cup races with Wilko and Red Rocks and got to drink from the Stanley Cup after the Red Wings won the championship in 2002. For now, he is keeping his Derby dreams in perspective.
“I feel like the top horses in the race are very well-balanced on paper,” he noted. “To win the race you’ve got to have the right, lucky trip. I don’t want to shoot my mouth off, but I think we’ve got a really good chance.”
Given the probabilities, what more could a guy ask.