Liberal billionaire donor George Soros's company is a part owner of Justify, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner hoping to win the Belmont Stakes and the triple crown on Saturday.
Justify would become just the 13th such winner in history with a victory at the New York racetrack.
The New York Times reports that a company controlled by top employees of Soros, Soros Fund Management, owns 15 percent of Justify, the horse seeking a third title this year at the Belmont Stakes. Soros is a longtime investor in race horses through the SF Bloodstock and SF Racing Group operations.
Soros's group does not actually own racing rights to the horse, which it sold along with racing rights to third-place Kentucky Derby finisher Audible quickly after acquiring them. Instead, Soros's group hopes to capitalize on Justify's increasing value should the horse win this weekend.
The remainder of Justify's breeding rights are owned by U.S.-based WinStar Farm and the China Horse Club, and could net tens of thousands of dollars annually if Justify were to go on to win the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
Previous Triple Crown winner American Pharaoh, who won in 2015, has racked up more than $35 million in breeding and other stallion fees since his victory, the Times reports.
Representatives for Soros's company declined to comment to the Times on Soros's interest in horse breeding and racing. The Times reports that he is unlikely to attend Saturday's race, as his company prefers to remain out of the spotlight.
Horse racing experts told the newspaper that new investors are being attracted to the sport, pointing specifically to Pharaoh's 2015 victory as a key reason.
“We’ve had a lot of new people getting involved in the business, buying horses,” Justify and American Pharaoh's trainer Bob Baffert told the Times. “Prices have gone up, and everybody wants quality. You’re getting money from the Middle East, you’re getting it from Europe, China. You know, I think it’s really boosted the business at the top level. Everybody wants to play at that level.”