Tommie M. Lewis, Steve Crabtree, Dean Demaree, David Bernsen, Jim Chambers and Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek)
Tommie Lewis, majority partner in Signalman, named her Toyota Blue Grass (G2) starter in honor of her husband, Travis, a Vietnam veteran who was a signalman in the U.S. Navy, and her father, Thomas Holbrook, one of several other family members to serve in the Navy. The name additionally nods to Signalman’s sire, General Quarters, a naval command.
Tommie, 73, and her husband, who live in the Houston suburb of Spring, own three Sonic Drive-In franchises in Texas.
After racing Quarter Horses, Tommie became involved in Thoroughbred racing. She won with her first starter. A trip to Kentucky’s horse country followed, and her commitment to Thoroughbred racing was complete. “Once I got a taste of Kentucky, I said we have to go there and buy a horse,” she said.
Tommie owns several horses in training with Kenny McPeek, who selects horses for her at the sales. She typically brings in partners and retains 40-50 percent ownership. Among horses she campaigned as sole owner is 2017 Bashford Manor (G3) winner Ten City.
Partner Steve Crabtree of Lawrenceberg, Kentucky, has his 22-year-old son, Max, to thank for making his dream of racehorse ownership come true. When Max’s college expenses were covered, Steve was free to reach his lifelong goal.
“I always wanted to do it, and I decided I’d buy my first horse by the time I was 30,” Crabtree, 61, said. “Then it was 40. Then it was 50. When I turned 60, I decided I’d waited long enough.”
Dean Demaree, 60, who lives in Mt. Washington, Kentucky, was born in Louisville, and his third cousin, Michael McDowell, was a successful jockey. In 2007, when McPeek hired Demaree’s company to clean carpets in his home, Demaree became a racehorse owner.
Among the horses Demaree has raced as a partner in Magdalena Racing is Grade 1 winner Pure Fun, who McPeek trained. He also has belonged to other syndicates that employed trainers Ian Wilkes, Bill Mott and Joe Sharp.
“I can’t buy a basketball team or a football team,” Demaree said, “but I can buy 20 percent or 8 percent of a racehorse. I tell Kenny (McPeek) he helps a ‘thousand-aire’ play the game with millionaires.”
McPeek and his wife, Sherri, are managing partners of Magdalena Racing, with Sherri as principal. The syndicate is the racing component of Magdalena Farm, a full-service Thoroughbred operation established in 2006 in Lexington.
Magdalena Racing manages about 20 partnerships, with about 40 partners involved and four to five partners per horse. Shares are offered at 20 percent but can vary. McPeek Racing retains 20 percent interest in horses raced by Magdalena Racing. With 100 horses in training, McPeek Racing has divisions year round at Keeneland and Magdalena Farm and seasonally at Churchill Downs, Gulfstream Park and Saratoga Race Course.