J. Paul Reddam was born in Windsor in 1955, completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Windsor before leaving town to pursue his master’s at the University of Toronto and his PhD at the University of Southern California. Before Reddam said good-bye to Windsor, however, he discovered his love for horseracing at the Windsor Raceway. Ultimately it was these experiences that led to his success in the thoroughbred industry as the owner of some of the best race horses in recent memory.
Reddam confessed that it was a bit of beginner’s luck that put him on the path to racing glory. “The first thoroughbred I spent any money for was a horse that I named Zilla the Hun that won a stake race. That got me hooked. If I bought a dog (meaning a horse that was not very good) then I probably wouldn’t have horses now,” Reddam mused.
Reddam’s foray into thoroughbred began in 1988 but his big breakthrough happened 16 years later when Wilko won the Breeders Cup Juvenile. That win was terrific for Reddam but bigger glories were in store when his colt, I’ll Have Another, captured the first two legs of the legendary Triple Crown in 2012. His Kentucky Derby win came at 15:1 odds in front of 165,000 spectators and millions more watching at home on television. I’ll Have Another continued his magical streak two weeks later, capturing the Preakness Stakes. Set to be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, I’ll Have Another was tragically scratched from the Belmont Stakes due to an ailment, and he became the first horse since 1936 to win the first two legs of the Triple Crown but forced to miss the final race due to injury.
From this gut-wrenching incident, however, emerged Reddam’s defining moment. “My proudest accomplishment was handling I’ll Have Another getting hurt the day before running for the Triple Crown, keeping the team mentally together and understanding this was a bump in life’s road and not being depressed about it for months, or years,” Reddam said.
Although the Triple Crown has eluded Reddam, his horses have continued to find success on the track. In 2016, Reddam-owned Nyqvist won the Kentucky Derby and with that win, Reddam became only the 14th owner in history to have a horse win the prestigious Kentucky Derby more than once.
Reddam says being daring and trying new things that are a bit unconventional played a part in his success. Reddam also thinks studying philosophy in university was also a big factor in his career as an owner – thinking about the possible, not just the actual.
The famous owner says he’s established good relationships with the trainers he has used – some of those current relationships have endured 14 years. “One skill you need as a thoroughbred trainer is to get along with your owners and to coddle them and listen to the owner’s nonsense,” Reddam joked. “I am kind of a sucker for that.”
Reddam currently lives in California and runs a loan business called CashCall. With thoroughbred racing and race-horse ownership as his credentials, Reddam is the first of his kind inducted into the Windsor-Essex County Sports Hall of Fame.