Horseman Leslie Brownell Combs II dies


Associated Press

Posted on January 1, 2014 at 3:03 PM

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Leslie Brownell Combs II, whose Spendthrift Farm was once the home of Triple Crown winners Seattle Slew and Affirmed, has died in Lexington. He was 80.

Combs was also a former director and vice president of the Breeders' Cup and a former Kentucky State Racing Commission chairman.

Combs, the former president of Spendthrift, died Sunday. Milward Funeral Home said a graveside service would be held at 11:30 a.m. EST Monday at Lexington Cemetery.

Combs was the only son of Leslie Combs II, who founded Spendthrift in 1937 and turned over the day-to-day operation of it to his son in 1974.

The Lexington Herald-Leader ( ) said the farm reached its peak in stallion syndication in 1978, when Seattle Slew and Affirmed were syndicated for $12 million and $16 million, respectively.

As the thoroughbred market began to collapse, Spendthrift had to sell land to pay debts, and many top stallions were moved to other farms.

Several investors sued the Combses and others, charging that a 1983 private offering overstated the farm's assets. The investors lost the federal case in 1989.

Leslie Brownell Combs II sold his stock in the farm in 1987.

A new group of investors bought the farm in July 1989 and began to rebuild from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Syndicating Seattle Slew and Affirmed was an unsurpassed accomplishment, Lexington horseman Preston Madden said Tuesday.

"No one has ever syndicated two Triple Crown winners, which Brownell Combs did," Madden said. "That's an accomplishment that no one else has, and I don't think anyone else is going to have anytime soon."


Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,