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In Memoriam
B. Wayne Hughes and Charlie Watts

     Just recently the equine industry witnessed the passing of two prominent individuals, who had devoted much time, energy and financial resources to acquiring and breeding outstanding horses.  One, a billionaire businessman, the other, a rock musician of global renown, lived on different continents, but their impacts were global. The loss of these two men is felt by those who loved and respected them, and the breeds they represented.
B. Wayne Hughes
28 September 1933 - 18 August 2021
Spendthrift Farm, Lexington, Kentucky, USA

     American businessman and philanthropist B. Wayne Hughes, according to an official August 18 Twitter post, "died peacefully…in his home at his beloved Spendthrift Farm with loving family by his side."  He was 87.

     Born in Oklahoma, Hughes and his family - reminiscent of the sharecropper family in John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath - relocated to Los Angeles to escape the Dust Bowl, eventually settling in El Monte.  Following his graduation from college, Hughes embarked on a career that led to real estate investing and the subsequent establishment of self-storage behemoth Public Storage in 1972, beginning with a single location in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon.  According to Forbes, "The publicly traded company had $3.6 billion in 2020 revenues and has more than 2,500 storage locations around the U.S." (Tindera).  An owner of racehorses since the early 1970s, Hughes purchased the famous and historic Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Kentucky in 2004.  Prior to Hughes' ownership, Spendthrift had stood Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Affirmed, prompting a 1984 visit by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who was considering breeding her own mares to the stallions. Hughes re-established Spendthrift's reputation as having one of the industry's most formidable stallion rosters.
Courtesy of Spendthrift Farm

B. Wayne Hughes (1933 - 2021)
     Social media followers of Spendthrift Farm and, as well as the thousands of microshare owners who have a stake in Champion 3-year-old Male and Horse-of-the-Year Authentic ($7,201,200), inevitably caught a glimpse of the much-publicized videos of the Kentucky Derby (G1 winner arriving at picturesque Spendthrift on 9 November 2020, following his victory in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Lexington's Keeneland Race Course.  Assembled for the newsworthy occasion were prominent members of the Thoroughbred racing press, eager for great photographs, video footage and quotes.  Authentic's trainer, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who had previously proclaimed the Into Mischief son as "the best horse in America today" (Frakes), led the colt down the ramp of the Sallee Horse Vans gooseneck trailer, posed him and made remarks to the press. Nearby stood a grandfatherly figure with a rollator walker and a smile.  Hughes had reason to be proud and enthusiastic, but Authentic was neither his first big winner nor the first promising stallion prospect to step out of a horse van at Spendthrift.
     Spendthrift's fabulous race mare, Beholder ($6,156,000), half-sister to Into Mischief ($597,080) and Mendelssohn ($2,542,137), was a winner of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), twice victor in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) and a multiple Eclipse Award winner.  During Hughes' years at Spendthrift, Beholder and Authentic were the most prominent winners, but the Spendthrift racing stable has made a good showing of itself in various major races, particularly with Kris S. son, Action This Day ($422,484), winner of the 2003 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and the Eclipse Award for Outstanding 2-year-old Male.
     Hughes, regarded as a pioneer in the Thoroughbred industry, implemented incentives and innovative programs to benefit breeders, and welcomed the concept of allowing investors to acquire microshares in racing stock.  A 12.5% equity-based share of Authentic, for example, was sold to micro investors through amid the eventual champion's racing career prior to his victory in the Haskell Stakes (G1).  During Hughes' years at Spendthrift, the farm stood leading sires Malibu Moon (1997-2021) and Into Mischief.  Meanwhile, Spendthrift remains in the very capable hands of Hughes' son-in law Eric Gustavson and daughter Tamara Hughes Gustavson, with an extensive supporting team that includes industry veterans Ned Toffey, General Manager, and Mark Toothaker, Stallion Sales Manager.
Charlie Watts
2 June 1941 - 24 August 2021
Halsdon Stud, Dolton, Winkleigh, Devonshire, England, United Kingdom

     Best known as the drummer for the internationally-known rock group, the Rolling Stones, Charles Robert Watts was both a celebrated musician and notable figure in Arabian horses.  With his wife, Shirley, he owned Halsdon Stud, the renowned breeding farm located in Devon where the stunning black straight Egyptian stallion Simeon Sadik resided until his death in 2012.

     A family man, Watts was particularly known for his decades-long devotion to his wife at a time when many other musicians and their counterculture followers held fast to the "sacraments in sex, drugs and rock" (77), as first alluded by LIFE magazine in 1969. In addition to playing drums and owning world class Arabians, Watts was a man of fashion sense and style, garnering recognition by various celebrity and entertainment magazines over the years, including Vanity Fair and The Daily Telegraph.

     Condolences have been expressed across social media platforms by colleagues and fans alike.  On Twitter, fellow drummer and Beatles legend Ringo Starr, employing his trademark omission of punctuation, posted, "#God bless Charlie Watts we're going to miss you man peace and love to family Ringo," and multiple GRAMMY® Award winner Sheryl Crow poignantly shared, "A hero is gone. No words.  A huge gaping hole in the universe. RIP Charlie Watts." Among the particularly personal and moving posts from high profile celebrities was that of Sir Elton John, who in part, wrote, "…My deepest condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And of course, The Rolling Stones."
Hugo van Gelderen (ANEFO), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Rolling Stones getting off an airplane at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on 8 August 1964.  This is a retouched version of the image from the Nationaal Archief. Charlie Watts is in the foreground.
     Prior to his passing, Charlie Watts had made global headlines on 5 August 2021 when the Rolling Stones announced that he "will not be a part of their upcoming No Filter tour of U.S. stadiums after undergoing an unspecified medical procedure" (Greene).  Steve Jordan, it was determined, would take his place.  On 24 August, Watts passed away peacefully in a London hospital, surrounded by family, according to a spokesperson.  Watts was 80-years-old.

Author:  Greg Freeman.  Published 25 September 2021.

Frakes, Jason. "Authentic 'best horse in America today' after winning Breeders' Cup Classic for Bob Baffert." Louisville Courier Journal. 8 November 2020. Retrieved 31 August 2021:

Greene, Andy. "Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts Drops Out of U.S. Tour After Medical Procedure." Rolling Stone. 4 August 2021. Retrieved 31 August 2021:

Kern, Edward. "Can It Happen Here?" LIFE. 17 October 1969, p. 77.

Tindera, Michela. "B. Wayne Hughes, Billionaire Founder of Public Storage, Dies At 87." Forbes. 18 August 2021. Retrieved 31 August 2021:

@eltonofficial. "A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer. The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company. My deepest condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And of course, The Rolling Stones @therollingstones #CharlieWatts #RIP." Twitter. 24 August 2021, 1:00 p.m.,

@ringostarrmusic. "#God bless Charlie Watts we're going to miss you man peace and love to family Ringo." Twitter.  24 August 2021, 1:03 p.m.,

@sherylcrow. "A hero is gone. No words. A huge gaping hole in the universe. RIP Charlie Watts." Twitter. 24 August 2021, 12:53 p.m.,

@spendthriftfarm. "We are very saddened to report the passing of B. Wayne Hughes who died peacefully today in his home at his beloved Spendthrift Farm with loving family by his side." Twitter. 18 August 2021, 5:30 p.m.

Special thanks to Autry Graham, Assistant Marketing Director, at Spendthrift Farm, Lexington, Kentucky, USA, for her assistance.
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     In addition to being a life-long horse lover, Greg Freeman is an author, editor, recording artist, songwriter and amateur visual artist, as well as an avid gardener and daffodil hybridist, judge and exhibitor. 
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