The punchline is: All the wives are coming to the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).
In a classic tale of you can’t tell a book by its cover, Don't Tell My Wife Stables' 12 partners will be accompanied by their spouses to watch the partnership group's My Boy Jack compete in the Run for the Roses May 5.
Formed by Kirk Godby in 2010, Don't Tell My Wife Stables is the culmination of Godby's lifelong dream to share his love of horseracing with friends. And although he is neck deep in solving the logistics of getting a couple dozen people situated under the Twin Spires Derby Day, Godby will gladly take on some of the heavy lifting that comes with having a Derby starter.
While working in commercial real estate in California, Godby enjoyed regular visits to Del Mar, Santa Anita Park, and Hollywood Park, and when he returned to his native Texas, he decided to learn the horse business from the ground up, and went to work as a groom. His father had some claiming horses in the Southwest, and the younger Godby inherited a passion for the Thoroughbred and the sport.
On his first day in the barn at Louisiana Downs, he struck up a conversation with trainer Keith Desormeaux, and the two became good friends. As Godby later founded a courier logistics business in Fort Worth and raised a family, he would send potential clients Desormeaux’s way. Twenty years after they met, Desormeaux asked Godby to put a few guys together, pool up some money, and claim a horse with him.
"It was the perfect way for me to get rolling on my dream of getting people involved in horses," Godby said. "So I got together with guys I knew from business and we had a few conference calls and tried to come up with a name. One of the guys, on three or four straight calls, would say, 'Don't tell my wife; she’s gonna kill me.' And we said, 'That’s gotta be the name.' "
One of the first horses they claimed, Alcazar, won three of his first five starts for the group in 2010.
"These guys were thinking this is how it's always going to be and I had to tell them it wasn't normal, but enjoy it while it lasts," said Godby.
Several other claiming partnerships followed, and meanwhile Godby put his friend Matt Bryan in touch with Desormeaux. More money was raised in an attempt to upgrade stock by purchasing sale yearlings.
"We came up with Flat Gone, who was stakes-placed and ran sixth in the 2014 Louisiana Derby (G2)," Godby said. "That was a big step for us. We raised $60,000 and called Keith to have him buy one for us at Keeneland. He called us back later that day and said he'd just bought the most athletic-looking filly he'd ever purchased, and that was Danette."
Danette, a daughter of Curlin , ran third in the 2014 Chandelier Stakes (G1) and fifth in that year's 14 Hands Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) en route to earning $251,096. At that Breeders' Cup, the Desormeaux-trained Texas Red won the Juvenile (G1) for a different ownership group.
Meanwhile, Bryan formed his Big Chief Racing operation, which Godby managed when Exaggerator came along in 2016 to win the Santa Anita Derby, Preakness Stakes, and TwinSpires Haskell Invitational Stakes (all grade 1). Sol Kumin had bought into Exaggerator early in his 3-year-old season, and the principals decided to forge an ongoing relationship.
"Keith was really firing, with Exaggerator, Decked Out, and Swipe," noted Godby. "Everybody got really excited and Sol and I talked and we decided to raise money and let Keith buy yearlings for us. We raised quite a bit of money and Keith bought six, one of whom was My Boy Jack."
Collared at the Keeneland sale by Desormeaux for just $20,000, My Boy Jack (Creative Cause —Gold N Shaft, by Mineshaft ) made his first start on dirt, then was switched to the grass because Del Mar offered more two-turn opportunities on turf.
"Keith buys classic route horses and we found a mile race on the grass in which he ran well (My Boy Jack finished second in three straight turf races including the Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes before breaking his maiden on the grass in the Zuma Beach Stakes at Santa Anita), so we kept him on it," Godby said. "Keith always maintained that he’d run better on dirt, so we switched him to that at the beginning of this year."
My Boy Jack checked in third in the Sham Stakes (G3) behind McKinzie, then shipped to Oaklawn Park to win the Southwest Stakes (G3). After a third in the TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2), My Boy Jack earned his way into the Derby field with a victory in the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland.
"That broke a curse," said Godby. "It was the first time I've been to the track where our horse won. I missed the Southwest, and there were discussions about me not going to Keeneland. To win and punch our ticket to the Kentucky Derby at a special place like that was unbelievable."
With Bryan among the dozen Don't Tell My Wife Stables partners in My Boy Jack, and with Kumin a major stakeholder in the colt, there is plenty of winning experience along for the ride. West Point Thoroughbreds, which bought a small piece of Always Dreaming before last year's Derby, purchased a slice of My Boy Jack in late April.
As a feel-good Derby story, it would be difficult to top a possible win by the $20,000 yearling for a group of courier logistics guys brought together by one who had a far-fetched dream long ago. And if My Boy Jack wins, none of their spouses are likely to be too upset.