Unbridled success: Broncos take horse-racing world by storm

Contact: Erin Flynn
Brian Doxtator and Chase Chamberlin hold a golden trophy together while raising their fists into the air after the Kentucky Derby.

Brian Doxtator and Chase Chamberlin hoist the iconic Kentucky Derby gold cup into the air.

LOUISVILLE, Ky.—On hallowed ground famous for thoroughbred champions, Broncos led the charge to the winner's circle at the 149th Kentucky Derby.

"We took the Broncos and turned them into racehorses," says Western Michigan University alumnus Chase Chamberlin, B.B.A.'12, co-founder and head of racing at Commonwealth—an app that has revolutionized the sport by giving people the opportunity to invest in horses for as little as $50 a share and "experience the thrill of ownership."

A large crowd of people pose together in the winner's circle at the Kentucky Derby.

A massive crowd of stakeholders filled the winner's circle at Churchill Downs after Mage won the iconic race.

When Mage crossed the finish line at Churchill Downs, nearly 400 people had a stake in the win through Commonwealth, putting the most people in the winner's circle in the history of the race.

"The feeling of bringing all of these people along with us for the ride and opening up this door—I can't even explain the look on people's faces, the hugs, the tears," says Brian Doxtator, B.B.A.'04, co-founder and CEO of Commonwealth. "Chase and I keep saying we thought we knew what the word ‘surreal’ meant before a couple of weekends ago. Now I think we can say we know what it means."


It's been a short but fruitful journey for the partners who have known each other for decades, having grown up in the same town just outside of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Doxtator started planting the seeds of Commonwealth in 2019 after visiting a car auction where a company was selling shares in cars.

He thought about how he could expand on that idea, and sports—particularly horse racing—seemed like the perfect launching point. A quick social media message to his old friend Chamberlin, a lifelong equestrian and fellow business Bronco, and it was off to the races. After two years in stealth mode, quite literally betting everything in some cases to keep the company moving forward, the Commonwealth app launched in 2021.

"I think back a lot on those times when it was not always easy to stay convinced to stay the path. We weren't paying ourselves; we were spending a lot of money to get this thing off the ground, and there were definitely moments that we could have easily been like, 'You know what, let's just move on to something else,'" Doxtator says.

Brian Doxtator and Chase Chamberlin sit in green stadium chairs.

Doxtator and Chamberlin first began working on Commonwealth in 2019. They launched their app in 2021.

But the pair stayed the course and landed a partnership with WinStar Farm shortly after the app went live. They found success right out of the gate with their first horse, Country Grammer, which won the 2022 Dubai World Cup—and the $12 million prize. After Mage's Kentucky Derby success, Commonwealth tripled its user base to 15,000 people.

"The beauty of what we do is we give people the chance to experience moments of victory or at least the pursuit of them," Chamberlin says.

"Our target has always been what I call the general sports fan of the Big Day Out crowd. People that if they're going to do something, they call three of their friends and they're looking for great experiences and having a good time. And of course, horse racing is full of that," Doxtator adds.


Mage's Derby win thrust Chamberlin and Doxtator into the international media spotlight, highlighting their innovative idea in Commonwealth that is breaking down barriers to horse ownership. Both credit Western with giving them a solid foundation of knowledge and experience that led to their success.

Doxtator decided to become a Bronco after meeting some Haworth College of Business professors during a high school DECA competition. "They were really smart people, and a couple of them had big careers behind them," he remembers.

He came to Western intent on studying business and pursuing a career in entrepreneurship but without much direction outside of that. Doxtator found his spark in a finance class.

"I found my focus and it was like, 'I know what I'm supposed to be doing now,'" he says. He changed his major to finance and joined the Financial Management Association, where he served on the executive board and had opportunities for hands-on learning and industry exposure through visits to places like the Chicago Board of Trade. "I think the mix of theoretical and practical (experience) that you get at Western Michigan really plays well."

Doxtator earned a competitive job interview at mergers and acquisitions firm Legg Mason in Baltimore, Maryland, right after graduation. He beat out dozens of Ivy League graduates to secure the job.

"All the feedback (company executives) gave me was that my real-world knowledge was far ahead of all of the Ivy's and all of those types of schools. And I really credit it with … the curriculum at Western being very real-world relevant," he says. "There's a real-world, practical way of thinking about education and how it might apply to your future at Western, and that definitely served me well over the years."

A group photo of people with two horses on either end of the group.

Chamberlin, fourth from left in a white cowboy hat, was captain of Western's equestrian team. "It allowed me to share my love and passion for horses with other people," he says. "They were all beginners, so that was fun being able to bring people into the fold, which is now what Brian and I do every day."

Expert faculty in Haworth College of Business also put Chamberlin in the saddle on his journey toward career success. A sales and business marketing student, he found mentors in Dr. Jim Eckert, associate professor of marketing, and Dr. Kelley O'Reilly, chair and professor of marketing.

"I'll never forget, (O'Reilly) brought me into a consulting project—myself and a couple of students who were in graduate programs—and it was one of those moments that was so special to have. It was one of the first times … where I had a professor latch on and see what it was that I had and what I cared about and really leaned in to bring it out," he says.

Chamberlin was also connected with a summer internship at CSM Group, a commercial construction management company in Kalamazoo. He calls it a "transformative opportunity" where he ended up with a full-time job and departmental responsibilities as a sophomore in college. Valuable experiences like that, he says, made him prepared to think on the fly and take on unknown challenges as he ventured into the startup world with Doxtator.

"We come up against a lot of Ivy Leaguers in the tech world, and we’re proud to say we went to WMU,” says Chamberlin.


While Chamberlin and Doxtator found their stride in the business and tech worlds, the publicity that came with winning the Kentucky Derby was beyond their scope. They dialed into the Bronco network and found another alumnus to bring on board: Paul Jackiewicz, B.A.'04, who Doxtator first met as a resident in Garneau Hall on campus 20 years ago and went on to craft a successful public relations career after Western.

"I helped to take what is already a great story and just polish it up and sharpen the edges and really get them to be prepared to go out and talk about it in a way that gets people excited," says Jackiewicz. He considered a major in computer science before taking a journalism class at Western and realizing his love of storytelling.

"I've always worked hard and was fairly smart and capable, but I didn't know what the path was. And (Western) set me on the path. And now it's 20 years later, and I get to work with one of my best friends who is now getting all this great publicity," he says. "To work with these guys and collaborate with them and think about all of the work I've done—and it all started at Western—it's pretty amazing."

Commonwealth will be tapping into Jackiewicz's expertise even more in the future as the company sets itself on a trajectory for exponential growth. It recently announced its first golf offerings are on the way. Doxtator says other sports like tennis could be next.

"We've never really been targeting the core horse-racing world; we're kind of targeting the general sports fans that are interested in horse racing and have never had a path to get in. I think that plays across a lot of different sports," he says. "The magic is actually that we're all together and hanging out and having these experiences."

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.

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A jockey rides a horse on a dirt race track.

Mage crosses the finish line first at the 149th Kentucky Derby.