06/25/2004 12:00AM

Hughes buys Spendthrift


LEXINGTON, Ky. - California-based owner and breeder B. Wayne Hughes has privately purchased the famed Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Ky., in a deal that closed Friday.

Hughes and his trainer, Ron Ellis, visited the 700-acre nursery in April.

"He's been back and forth there a few times, and once he decided to buy it, the deal closed pretty quickly," Ellis said Friday. The price was not disclosed.

This is the second time Spendthrift has been sold in the last five years. The farm was founded in 1937 by Leslie Combs II, whose estate sold it at auction to Ted Taylor in 1994. Taylor eventually put it on the market again, and in late 2000 Lexington horseman Bruce Kline purchased the farm privately. Kline then put together a partnership of Bruce Kline; Frank, Denise, and Alexandra Nastasi; Richard, Ingrid, and Cass Anderson; Gillian Johnston; and Marvin Herb.

Under that partnership, Spendthrift nearly doubled its acreage to about 700 acres, including about 350 acres currently being developed into facilities for mares and foals. Spendthrift also acquired half-interests in Cuvee and Whywhywhy.

The farm currently stands 11 stallions, including Mr. Greeley, the most expensive sire on the roster with a $50,000 fee in 2004.

"The stallions that are there now will stay there," Ellis said, adding that Hughes plans to lease the portion of Spendthrift that includes the stallion operation back to Kline, who will continue to manage the stallions. Hughes, who has an estimated 50 to 60 broodmares, will keep his mare band at Spendthrift and plans to continue developing the new portion of the farm for those mares. Ellis said that would be the arrangement for "at least a year."

Hughes already has stallion involvements with nearby Castleton Lyons, which stands his Malibu Moon and also has secured the right to stand his Action This Day, the 2003 champion juvenile, when that colt retires. Ellis said that those plans remain unchanged.

"He didn't buy Spendthrift looking to be a large commercial breeding operation," Ellis said. "He's been looking for a farm for a couple of years and had trouble finding exactly what he wanted."