Top Athletes Who Have Owned Racehorses

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

February 22nd, 2019

Athletes often thrive on the excitement and adrenaline of competition, so it’s understandable why many choose to remain involved in sports even after retirement.

Perhaps that’s why plenty of athletes through the years have taken up racehorse ownership. Through their horses, they can experience the excitement of competition even if they’re no longer active in their own sports.

You might be surprised at some of the top athletes who have raced high-class horses in recent years. A small sample includes….

Sir Alex Ferguson

A former soccer player and longtime manager of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson has dabbled in racehorse ownership and reached the big leagues with Rock of Gibraltar, a wildly talented seven-time Group 1 winner who finished second in the 2002 Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. I).

Rob Gronkowski

A tight end player for the New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski made racing headlines in 2018 when he purchased a piece of a three-year-old Thoroughbred named (what else?) Gronkowski, who went on to finish second in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) behind Triple Crown winner Justify.

Rashard Lewis

Basketball player Rashard Lewis, a member of the 2013 NBA Finals-winning team Miami Heat, has branched out to conquer the sport of horse racing as well. He achieved a high level of success with Skip Away Stakes (gr. III) Cigar Street, who ran in the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Michael Matz

A medalist in show jumping at the 1996 Olympics, Michael Matz subsequently turned to training horses and is best known as the conditioner of 2006 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Barbaro. Matz and his wife, Dorothy, have raced a handful of prominent horses in Dorothy’s name, including the graded stakes winners Tequilita and Sangrita.

Bode Miller

The most decorated male alpine skier in U.S. history, the six-time Olympic medalist Bode Miller has expressed an interest in becoming a racehorse trainer one day, but in the meantime he’s owned a handful of talented runners by himself and in partnership, including the stakes winners Carving and En Hanse.

Michael Owen

A star Premier League player, Michael Owen has dived into racing since retiring from soccer and achieved international success as part-owner of Brown Panther, who won major races in England, Ireland, and Dubai. On one occasion, Owen even rode as a jockey in a charity race, finishing second.

Michael Phelps

The most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals (23 of them gold), U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps and coach Bob Bowman have raced Thoroughbreds under the name of Charm City Racing. Some of their better runners have been By a Hundredth (named for Phelps’ miniscule margin of victory in the 2008 Olympic 100-meter butterfly) and Water Cube (the nickname of the Beijing National Aquatics Center, where the swimming events at the 2008 Olympics were held).

Joe Torre

The National Baseball Hall of Fame member Joe Torre has raced a number of top-class horses in partnership through the years, often under the well-chosen name Diamond Pride LLC. The Grade 1 winners Game On Dude and Sis City, plus the Canadian classic winner Wild Desert, have been some of his best.

Wes Welker

One of the most successful undrafted football players in history, Wes Welker found plenty of sporting highlights on the gridiron as a wide receiver for the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots, among others. He’s also raced several horses under his own name and in partnership, including the fittingly-named sprinter Undrafted, who won the prestigious 2015 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in England.

Lee Westwood

A British golfer who has been the top-ranked player in the world on two different occasions, Westwood’s racing exploits include a couple of victories at Meydan in Dubai with the classy group stakes performer Rerouted.