When asked how he got into the Thoroughbred industry two decades ago, Everett Dobson gives the simplest of answers.
“I bought a racehorse.”
Things have gotten considerably more complex since then. The Oklahoma native purchased quite a few more racehorses, then a farm, then started a breeding operation. He also bought a top-class golf course and part of an NBA team.
“I guess you could say I'm a sports junkie,” he said. “If you look at my investments, I put considerable time and money into sports because that's what I enjoy.”
Right now, Dobson seems to be getting his money's worth. This Saturday, his 2-year-old colt Mastery will try two turns for the first time in the $300,0000-guaranteed Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity. The son of Candy Ride is two-for-two so far, his second win coming in the Grade 3 Bob Hope Stakes over highly regarded juvenile California Diamond. The Kentucky Derby talk has already started around Mastery, a $425,000 Keeneland September Sale purchase trained by Triple Crown-winning Bob Baffert, but Dobson isn't really playing along with all the hype yet.
“I'm one that likes to take it one race at a time,” he said. “Actually we had a horse, Madefromlucky, who was eligible for the Derby (last year) and we elected not to run him. We kept running behind another horse called American Pharoah.”
As Mastery tries to stretch his winning streak to three, Dobson's NBA team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, will look for its seventh consecutive win Friday night. During that streak, the team's star Russell Westbrook has scored a triple-double in every game, an impressive and uncommon statistical feat in basketball.
“We have a special player in Russell Westbook,” Dobson said. “I feel privileged to be able to watch him do what he's been doing.”
Dobson splits his time between Oklahoma and Kentucky, where he has about 25 broodmares at his Candy Meadows farm north of downtown Lexington. In addition to the breeding operation, Dobson currently keeps around 20 horses in training under his Cheyenne Stables LLC. Dobson grew up in Cheyenne, Okla., and with the help of the family-owned Dobson Telephone Company, he founded his own communications firm in 1989. In 2007, he sold it to AT&T for $2.8 billion.
Today, Dobson serves as the CEO for the family business, now called Dobson Technologies. It specializes in fiber-optic transfer throughout Oklahoma and Texas. Dobson is also active in the Oklahoma City community, and that kind of involvement has spilled over into the Thoroughbred industry. Dobson's a member of The Jockey Club, is on the board of trustees for the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, and last year joined the American Graded Stakes Committee, which just put out its list of graded stakes for 2017.
“I think I was drafted,” Dobson joked. “But it's important that we give back, and it's important work, particularly what the graded stakes committee does.”
When it comes to owning and breeding, Dobson said he tries to think long-term. He buys fillies that might turn into good broodmares “after getting some race record under them.” The last couple of years, he's started buying more colts, with an eye on stallion careers down the road.
If Mastery does indeed become a serious contender for the Kentucky Derby, it won't be Dobson's first success at the sport's highest level. In 2011, he campaigned Caleb's Posse to victories in the Grade 1 King's Bishop and G1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile.
“He was a champion. Let's call him what he was,” said Dobson. “Won the King's Bishop, beat Uncle Mo. Won the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, got beat a nose in the (2012) Met Mile to Shackleford, a race we thought he had won but ran incredibly fast. He was an incredible horse.”
Caleb's Posse currently stands at Three Chimneys, a farm in which Dobson has invested and serves on the board of directors. Dobson said Madefromlucky, winner of the G2 Peter Pan and G2 West Virginia Derby as a 3-year-old, is back in training after some time off and will likely compete in 2017. Other current runners include Genre, a 4-year-old daughter of Bernardini who finished third in her last start, the G1 Juddmonte Spinster Stakes at Keeneland.
Dobson admits he'll be nervous for Mastery's start on Saturday but said he's “having a lot of fun right now.” If he had to choose, would he rather have an NBA championship with the Thunder or a Kentucky Derby victory?
“I'm one of those people that wants it all,” he said. “But I would cherish them both.”
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