Pinhooker Smith Happy in California

Bringing new people into the Thoroughbred business through pinhooking/racing venture.

“You can call it a midlife crisis or whatever you want to, but it’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” said pinhooker Murray Smith of her move earlier this year to Southern California from the Ocala area in Central Florida.

Smith was the second-biggest spender at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling auction, paying $965,000 for 14 horses July 20 and 21 in Lexington. She bought under the name of her new venture, Divine Assetts, which will resell the horses as juveniles or race them. Murray and her boyfriend, Kelly Chamberlin, have put together an investment group of people who are new to the Thoroughbred business.

“I love Ocala; Ocala has been great to me, and I’ve got great friends there,” Smith said. “But I just wanted something different. I didn’t think any hedge fund investors or professional athletes were going to come walking up my driveway in Ocala. I thought the best way for me to help this business was to bring in new people. There are a lot of people with money in California who don’t even know about the horse business and need something to do – hedge fund investors and entrepreneurs. They don’t want to put their money in the stock market anymore.”

Smith won’t be preparing any of the horses she plans to resell or consign them to auctions. Instead, she’ll divide them among other pinhookers to be broken, trained, and sold.

“Let’s say, for example, that I buy 20 head this year; I’ll give five to this guy, five to that guy, five to that guy, and five to that guy,” Smith said. “There are friends of mine who specialize in certain types of horses and go to certain sales, and the horses are going to go where they need to go. I want to help everybody.”

Smith sold Monarchos for $170,000 at the 2000 Fasig-Tipton Florida select juvenile auction, and the son of Maria’s Mon went on to win the 2001 Kentucky (gr. I) and Florida (gr. I) Derbys. Other graduates of her pinhooking program include champion Smoke Glacken and grade II winner What a Song.

“I’m surfing and golfing now, and I’m very happy,” Smith said. “I live in Del Mar, and I can walk to the track and walk to the beach and walk to the village. I love it. I still have my place in Ocala, but with the economy the way it is, it's probably not a good time to try and sell it. But if somebody wants to buy it, it's available”