LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Growing up around Churchill Downs, Billy Paynter developed a love and passion for racing early on.
“My mom brought me to my first Kentucky Derby when I think I was 13 years old and it’s just, it’s just full of love ever since,” Paynter said.
Paynter’s passion became a business, forming a racing syndicate in Ocean Reef Racing. After buying into Derby contender, Confidence Game, Paynter made a phone call to share the news with those who first introduced him to the sport.
“My mom and dad haven’t been to the Derby for almost a decade. You know, they said when I got in the race and they said they’d only go back to the Kentucky Derby if I had a horse in it,” Paynter said. “So, I got the deal done. I called mom and I said, hey, I’ve got good news and bad news. And she goes, What’s that? I said, well, the good news is you’re going to be sitting with me. The bad news is you got to get up, get a hat, and you’re going back to the Derby. And she’s like, you don’t have a horse.”
Paynter isn’t the only one that is familiar with Churchill Downs. Confidence Game raced at the track in 2022, winning the Allowance Optional Claiming in November and the Iroquois Stakes in September.
“The most exciting part for me is that he’s run here at Churchill Downs. You remember this will be my 24th Derby. If you look back through the program over the years, if you’ve made the wrong bet, you lose. You realize that horses that run here and that have won here have tremendous success,” Paynter said.