Ocean Reef Racing Buys into Derby-Bound Confidence Game

Ocean Reef Racing, a Key Largo, Florida-based syndicate made up of nine partners, has bought an interest in GII Rebel S. winner Confidence Game (Candy Ride {Arg}) from the colt’s owner, Don’t Tell My Wife Stable. Confidence Game is expected to make his next start in the GI Kentucky Derby for trainer Keith Desormeaux.

William “Billy” Paytner, who heads the Ocean Reef syndicate, would not disclose the percentage that was purchased, but said that it was less than 50% and that Don’t Tell My Wife will remain the principal owner.

“Although I split my time between Versailles and Key Largo, I’m a Louisville native, so I’m over the moon,” Paynter said. “Our stable has only been in racing for about three years and never in a million years did I think we could have a horse in the Derby in our first three years. I can’t even imagine what might happen. I’m going to be a nervous wreck until they come out of the starting gate on Derby day. It’s very exciting for myself, my family and all my partners. It gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.”

“We are thrilled that Billy and his partners at Ocean Reef Racing have joined us on this amazing ride with Confidence Game, and look forward to going on this exciting journey with them,” said Don’t Tell My Wife’s Kirk Godby. “It was just five years ago that we had My Boy Jack run in the Derby and it’s truly incredible to be back again. All the credit goes to trainer Keith Desormeaux, though, who continues to prove his elite horsemanship in buying young horses and getting them to this level. I can’t thank him enough.”

When it comes to the Derby, Confidence Game was flying under the radar until he pulled off the upset in the Rebel at 18-1. With James Graham aboard, he won by a length. The Ocean Reef team noticed the effort and was soon in touch with Godby.

“I knew Kirk from Fort Worth through some business connections when I went to SMU business school,” Paynter said. “We liked the Candy Ride side of his pedigree and that he’s out of a Bernardini mare, Eblouissante. Eblouissante is a half-sister to Zenyatta. But it wasn’t even a thought until the Rebel. That race weighed heavily on our decision. There were the wet conditions and how he won and galloped out. That was very impressive. They have a pretty good track record. This is their second Derby horse and they were in the Oaks last year [with Candy Raid]. I haven’t gotten to know Keith Desormeaux yet, but I am looking forward to racing with him. He obviously has a good track record.”

Paynter said the stable has been trying to focus on buying more expensive horses, but having a horse in the Derby was not necessarily a goal.

“At the level we’ve been buying at, we thought getting to the Derby was a possibility, but it never crosses your mind until it actually happens,” he said. “To be honest, we didn’t expect to have a Derby horse. This is one of those pinch yourself moments.”

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