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Profiteer a perfect path into Australia for Sol Kumin

11 min read
Sol Kumin's Madaket Stables has made its first foray into ownership in Australia through brilliant 3-year-old colt Profiteer (Capitalist). TDN AusNZ's Bren O'Brien caught up with the leviathan American owner to talk about his reasons for expanding his interests globally, the secret to his phenomenal success and the passion which drives him.

The first thing that strikes you about Sol Kumin when you talk to him is the enthusiasm he has for his thoroughbreds. That passion is no surprise when you look at his remarkable achievements as an owner over the past seven years, a list that features 77 Grade 1 victories, including two G1 Kentucky Derby winners.

Sol Kumin with Lady Eli (USA) | Image courtesy of Horsephotos

Kumin has parlayed his accomplishments in the finance and hedge fund world into making a spectacular impact on the American thoroughbred industry, utilising many of the same philosophies and strategies.

His rise has paralleled that of SF Bloodstock, and it is thanks to a strong relationship with Gavin Murphy, Tom Ryan and Henry Field that he finds himself involved with Profiteer and charting new territory in Australia this spring.

"It’s my first foray into Australia, which I'm pretty excited about," Kumin tells TDN AusNZ from New York.

"I have been looking for a way to try and do something with Henry out in Australia." - Sol Kumin

"I got to know Henry over the last few years. He has helped us buy horses and I have spent a lot of time with the SF guys, who I'm close to. I have been looking for a way to try and do something with Henry out in Australia.

"When these guys bought Profiteer, they called and said we’ve got some room in this one, I think he'd be a good first one for you, and he has been. It's been a blast, I'm totally psyched," said Kumin.

Newgate purchased into Profiteer shortly before he won the R. Listed Inglis Millennium in February, bringing in several other partners, while the original ownership group from Roll The Dice Racing also remained involved. The colt would subsequently run second in the G2 Todman S. and started favourite in the G1 Golden Slipper S., finishing fifth.

Tom Ryan, Henry Field and Gavin Murphy

Under the guidance of Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr. Profiteer is set to return in the G1 Moir S. at Moonee Valley later this month, with races such as The Everest and the G1 Coolmore Stud S. possibly on the agenda this spring. It's a campaign which has Kumin very excited.

"When he got me involved, Henry told me this one was fast. They were waiting for one which firstly I would be able to have some fun with and secondly, looked like a horse that could take us to some of these big races," Kumin said.

"I think this horse was arguably the fastest 2-year-old in Australia last year, he was certainly somewhere in that group. I'm so psyched, it’s so good to have him back and ready to run.

"He runs in three weeks in the Moir S. I know Mick Price says he's been flying and he's looking forward to him being back. We are hopeful he can win some big races this year and stand at Newgate when he retires right next to his sire Capitalist. That would be awesome."

The Australian way

Kumin's enthusiasm for being involved in Australia extends far beyond just his excitement in Profiteer's potential. His meteoric success in the United States has been made possible by the people he has partnered with, through the likes of Madaket Stables, and the Australian way of doing thoroughbred business appeals to him.

"One of the things which has always interested me about Australia is how open people are to partnerships, and how lots and lots of different people tend to own horses."

"One of the things which has always interested me about Australia is how open people are to partnerships, and how lots and lots of different people tend to own horses." - Sol Kumin

"That's what we have looked to do here in America. When we started getting into this six or seven years ago, there were less people that were partnering on horses. When you look today, while it’s not anywhere near where Australia is, but it is starting to go that way.

"When you watch the sales and see how horses are being bought here, people are much more open to having partners. For us that's a big part of it. Winning and losing by yourself is much less fun.

"It is a great way to meet great people, to have fun, spread your risk out and that is something that has been happening in Australia for a long time."

"It's a logical place for us to start doing some stuff. We will probably do a few more deals like this and figure out if it's something we’d like to get more involved with." - Sol Kumin

Kumin has never been to Australia but has admired the passion for thoroughbreds in this part of the world for some time. He also sees the potential in his expanded involvement with the Newgate-led partnerships which have had a phenomenally successful 2021.

"It's a logical place for us to start doing some stuff. We will probably do a few more deals like this and figure out if it's something we’d like to get more involved with. We obviously started in the US and we have done some things in Europe, mostly in France, and now this is our foray into Australia.

"I'm not sure how big we will get. At the end of the day, everything we do will be with Henry and the SF guys. We trust those guys. They are super talented. We know that they have our backs. They are trying to put us in horses that make sense and I am hoping to do more with them."

A meteoric rise

The success which Kumin has enjoyed since he purchased into his first horse in 2014 is the stuff of movies. Many owners spend a lifetime trying to find a Group or Grade 1 horse, but the 46-year-old has visited that summit an extraordinary 77 times.

The Triple Crown success through ownership of Justify (USA) is one of the stand-out success stories, while Madaket was also part of the ownership of Authentic (USA) (Into Mischief {USA}) when he won the 2020 Kentucky Derby. There have been two G1 Preakness S. wins, six Breeders' Cup successes, wins in the G1 Kentucky Oaks, and even the G1 Diamond Jubilee S., at Royal Ascot.

Justify (USA) | Standing at Coolmore

The horse which started it all off for Kumin was Lady Eli (USA) (Divine Park {USA}). Purchased for US$140,000 (AU$189,040) at the 2014 Keeneland April Sale by his partner Sheep Ponds Partners, Jay Hanley, she would repay them in spectacular fashion within six months.

"When that's how you start, it’s pretty easy to get hooked. Since that experience, we have got a lot more serious about it. We have a pretty large stable of 130 horses or so," he said.

"We had the amazing high of winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies' Turf and the Belmont Oaks as 2 and 3-year old. Then we had the lows of her getting laminitis and getting sick and then obviously being able to come back again and be a Champion again at five.

Lady Eli (USA)

"We started off knowing absolutely nothing and buying a few horses and ending up with Lady Eli in our first crop. That was a pretty amazing way to get involved."

Among the stars he has subsequently been involved with have been the Champion Filly and Mare Monomoy Girl (USA) (Tapizar {USA}), a dual winner of the Breeders' Cup Distaff, G1 Preakness S. winner Exaggerator (USA) (Curlin {USA}), Uni (GB) (More Than Ready {USA}), as well as his Kentucky Derby winners, Justify and Authentic and a host of others.

"We have been super fortunate. We have had two Kentucky Derby winners, two Preakness winners, we’ve been able to win three races in Dubai and we’ve run second twice in Saudi Arabia in their big race there," he said.

"We started off knowing absolutely nothing and buying a few horses and ending up with Lady Eli in our first crop. That was a pretty amazing way to get involved." - Sol Kumin

The victory of the Wesley Ward-trained Undrafted (USA) (Purim {USA}), co-owned with NFL footballer Wes Welker, in the 2015 G1 Diamond Jubilee S., where he defeated Australian runner, Brazen Beau, was another major highlight.

"At the time, I probably didn't appreciate how big a win that was because it was still pretty early for us. It’s a hard thing to do, to go over there and win, and you've seen that with the horses that have been able to go over there from Australia," Kumin said.

"It's been great. I think we have 77 Grade 1s in six years, which is pretty amazing. We are very proud of it. We have worked hard and we have had some luck. We have had a good team and some great partners, which have made it really fun."

Doing things differently

Fortune does play its part in any racing success, but there has been a significant amount of strategy that has gone into orchestrating Kumin's remarkable results as an owner. A career on Wall Street and operating his own hedge funds has given him an appreciation of the importance of two things, data and good people, and he has applied them in equal measure with his thoroughbred interests.

"The first thing is surrounding yourself with good people that you trust and letting them do what they are good at. When you buy into a horse like Profiteer, you have people that you trust. I trust Henry and Tom and that was easy to do," he said.

"One of the mistakes which I see people like me who have a 'day job' make all the time is to micro-manage the people that are buying horses for them at sales. If I give someone a budget to go and buy ten fillies for X amount of money, then I am not going to add any value there.

"You have to trust people. The owner is not helpful if they are micro-managing and saying 'I don’t like the pedigree, or 'I don’t like the way the front leg looks'. They don’t know, so they should let the expert do their thing."

Kumin has prided himself and his team on taking an approach of doing things differently to what has been done before, especially when it comes to using data and information.

"It’s an industry where there is a lot of information available and a lot of people do things the same way. We’ve tried to use data when we are buying horses and we use it when we are placing horses," he said.

"Lots of people send all their horses to one or two trainers, but we use a lot of trainers, because our personal view is that not every horse is suited it every trainer. Certain trainers are better at certain things. It's the same thing with whose buying them, and who is breaking them."

Profiteer as a yearling

The data and information-led approach has proven especially valuable when purchasing horses privately.

"We have been able to do a lot of research and talk to farms and jockeys and people that are helping us with information, just to make sure we are stepping into the right stuff. We make plenty of mistakes. We get lots of stuff wrong and will continue to do that. It’s a hard sport," he said.

"But honestly we have got better and better at doing that over the last five or six years."

The way forward

Kumin is not plotting an endless path of growth for his racing interests and he and his team pick through its opportunities carefully. The decision to invest in Profiteer was far from on a whim but was a way to assess whether Australia should be part of its roadmap forward.

"We just want to keep winning big races every year. The goal is to win a handful of Grade 1s and keep adding to the stars and to be able to enjoy those big days because that is what it is about for us."

Sol Kumin

"We are in the process of reloading with our yearlings. We got some in August and now September is the new sale, and then we will sell a bunch in November. It is very much a cycle. I don’t think a lot will change. I hope we can continue to have success and end up with some good horses.

"I don’t think a lot changes for us. We’d like to do a little bit more internationally. Australia is obviously a place that is interesting to us. Mostly because of our relationship with Henry and the SF folks. We don't have a grand plan to expand. Our stable numbers are about where we like them," Kumin said.

Sol Kumin
Madaket Stables
Henry Field
Profiteer
SF Bloodstock