KM Bugatti – You CAN Have it All


Feature Image and Story By Julie Adams


As featured in the Winter 2024 issue of Arabian Horse World.


If you can dream it, with KM Bugatti+++/, you can achieve it.


KM Bugatti has become a standard bearer for the Arabian breed. With fewer than 300 foals, the Versace son out of Sanegors Lady D has achieved goals stallions with hundreds more foals never attained.


During his show career, KM Bugatti established a name for himself in halter and performance. His get are doing the same. Through 2023, 169 Bugatti sons and daughters have been shown, and 162 have been champions – an impressive 91 percent. And 52 percent have been national winners. (Arlene Magid research)


Over the past 20+ years, KM Stables, which started like most farms do, with a love of horses and a dream of winning roses, has bred just a few foals a year. They include National Champion Western Pleasure Junior Horse KM Palermo+ and multi-National Champion Hunter Pleasure Horse FVF Bucarrdi+/.


Little did Kristi Waters and her husband, Michael Scarfia know, KM Stables would go on to own one of the Arabian breed’s greatest horses. Standing a National level stallion is no small feat – it is a profound responsibility; a journey with triumphs and adversities, victories and defeats, and monumental, life-altering decisions in its path.

Photo by Julie Adams

The Early Days


In the middle of his “ugly duckling” phase, Kristi saw something special in a rangy colt in the middle of a field in central Florida. She couldn’t have been more right.


“When I’m traveling looking at horses, the last thing I ever have in my mind is that I’m going to be on the phone talking someone into buying a suckling colt,” trainer Mike Wilson says. “When we met 3-month-old Bugatti, that’s just what we did with Doug Corp in 2005.”


Corp purchased the colt, who came to Wilson’s after weaning and was turned out to pasture to grow up. “He was a striking baby in many ways – tall and upheaded; he was very different than most foals but had a real commanding presence, to say the least.”


Wilson says early in Bugatti’s yearling year, he was a “growing mess.” None of his parts made sense, and he couldn’t decide if he was black or grey.


“In late summer, he started to come back together, but Doug Corp had different plans that didn’t include horses, so the still-unnamed, sort-of-grey colt was offered for sale. That’s when Kristi Waters swooped in and made the history-making purchase of the now-living legend KM Bugatti,” Wilson says.


Jet black and slowly turning grey, this gangly colt needed a future. He needed a name, a purpose, and someone like Kristi to believe in him.


KM Bugatti made his show ring debut as a long yearling with Wilson at the Tampa, Florida, Thanksgiving show. A first-place win was the first of many for the young colt.


The next year, a Top Ten at Scottsdale, followed by open stallion championships at Regions 12 and 14, proved that Bugatti was indeed a show horse.


“We began to dream … and always believed,” Kristi says. “Everyone thought we were crazy … he was in a deep class of stallions. … No one could have ever imagined the younger, very immature Versace son had a chance. But we believed and had ‘gratitude’ to show him to the crowds no matter how he placed. And then he won.”


Just like that, KM Stables assumed the responsibility of owning and marketing an up-and-coming stallion, which is not as easy as one might think, especially if you’re an “average” owner rather than a big-name farm with unlimited resources. Some critical decisions needed to be made regarding how to brand and market Bugatti as a breeding stallion, and Kristi knew the trajectory over the next couple of years would set the tone for the rest of Bugatti’s life.

Bugatti the Show Horse


A stallion with a job is a happy stallion, so KM Bugatti began his under saddle training with Peri Lee Tilghman. True to his nature, Bugatti took it all in stride.


“Bugatti loved his job, whether standing up in halter or owning each stride of his ride; he was always game. He was just about the easiest horse, in either division, that you could hope to have,” Peri says.


And so, the decision was made to let Bugatti continue doing what he enjoyed in both disciplines. It quickly became apparent that Bugatti was showing the talent of a national-caliber hunter pleasure horse.


Therein lies the problem. Showing a breeding stallion is different from showing a gelding or a mare. The stakes are so much higher. He needs to be seen to attract mare owners, but do you risk him losing in front of a big audience at a high-profile show? Could the young stallion handle the pressure of showing in halter and under saddle, and breeding his first group of mares all in the same year?


Kristi, Mike, and Peri decided that with the brains, talent, and pedigree they had in front of them, it was worth a shot; they’d let Bugatti dictate the pace.


That following summer, the 3-year-old won Champion Stallion and Reserve Champion Hunter Pleasure Junior Horse at a Class A show, qualifying him for the U.S. Nationals both in hand and under saddle.


Would they do it? And more importantly, SHOULD they do it? At the time, it was unheard of to ride a halter horse at the national level – actually, it was quite taboo to make a halter stallion a hunter horse. Degrading, some said. You’ll discredit him as a halter horse, they said. But for Kristi, Mike, and Peri, they knew they had something special. They knew they had a stallion with the mind, the conformation, and the heart to wear roses in both disciplines. Not since Khemosabi++++// had a stallion won in both open performance and halter at the same national show. At a time when there was a growing division between main ring performance and halter, Kristi knew Bugatti could help bridge that gap.


And so they did. In 2008, he set the stage by being named U.S. National Top Ten Futurity Colt with Mike and Top Ten Hunter Pleasure Futurity with Peri. Bugatti’s fan base was growing for this big, grey colt that could not only show in halter but could also turn around and show under saddle the next day.

Peri and Bugatti

Fast forward to May 2009. Bugatti went Region 12 Champion Hunter Pleasure Junior Horse with Peri and Region 12 Champion Stallion AAOTH with Kristi at the lead.


Later that year, Bugatti was named United States National Champion Stallion AAOTH, and the following day was Reserve National Champion Hunter Pleasure Junior Horse. In doing so, Bugatti became the youngest stallion to win national championships in halter and performance at the same U.S. Nationals. He remains one of only two living stallions with national championships in halter and performance at the U.S. Nationals in the same year (Arlene Magid research).


KM Bugatti did all this when he was just four years old, a testament to his mental and physical ability, along with the exemplary care he received from his trainers and owner.


Speaking with those involved with Bugatti, a common theme emerges – his unparalleled easygoing disposition. Much like his sire, Bugatti is emotive, sensitive, and personable, with almost human-like characteristics. He consistently passes on his trainability and street smarts to his foals.


Peri Tilghman has this to say about Bugatti:

“From the beginning, as a halter horse with Mike, Bugatti was an absolute doll to work with and to be around. Once I started breaking him out, I knew he would be one of the greatest horses I’d ever have the opportunity to work with. He was highly trainable and beyond willing to please. Bugatti accomplished every goal we ever set for him. He created something new and beautiful that this industry hadn’t seen, at least not in many years. He was one of the most special horses I’d had and probably ever will have the opportunity to work with. He broke many, many molds.”


Bugatti’s last major show ring appearance was at Scottsdale in 2013. Kristi had always dreamed of showing Bugatti one more time in Wendell Arena. Those dreams were almost crushed when Bugatti suffered a bout of laminitis the year before in the crippling Florida heat that could have been career-ending. After months of intensive care, in typical Bugatti fashion, he recovered. Expertly conditioned and handled by Ted Carson, Bugatti was third in the senior stallion class, and the electricity from the Scottsdale crowd that lined the rail to watch him was magnetic. Bugatti’s performance is one few will forget. It poured buckets of rain the night before, so while he didn’t get to show in Wendell Arena, Bugatti’s last performance is one few of us will forget.


The greatest part about it? Looking through the faces on the rail, watching him show and seeing so many performance trainers and owners among the halter crowd. Mission accomplished.

Bugatti and Kristi


The mention of KM Bugatti invariably conjures thoughts of Kristi Waters. When you meet Kristi, she extends a warm handshake or a friendly hug, introducing herself with a smile, “Hi, I’m Bugatti’s mom.” Kristi’s genuine warmth and kindness aren’t a facade orchestrated to sell a breeding; they are intrinsic to her character and have been instrumental in Bugatti’s success as a sire.


From the beginning of Bugatti’s stud career, Kristi has had two fundamental priorities — maintaining Bugatti’s stud fee at a reasonable level and advocating for and promoting his get. Kristi’s steadfast commitment to supporting small breeders has led to a collaboration affectionately known as Team Bugatti. Whether at the rail or in a win photo, you’ll likely find Kristi, unwavering in her support for Bugatti’s offspring and their owners and breeders. Her generosity extends beyond mere words; it’s a tangible force that has not only shaped Bugatti’s legacy but has also fostered a community united by a shared admiration for the horse.

KM Bugatti and Kristi have a bond that defies logic to those who don’t understand how a horse can be someone’s soulmate. Bugatti adores Kristi, and the way these two communicate is a perfect example of a powerful horse-human connection.
- Julie Adams
Kristi and Bugatti
Photo by Julie Adams

“It’s one thing to pick the stallion’s DNA, but you have to consider the marketing, the owner, and the branding behind a stallion,” publicist Jenn Trickey says. “Kristi has mentored some of the best breeding programs and put Bugatti in a situation where they would use him as a sire. Had she not advocated for her stallion to be in the Palmetto Arabians program, Bugatti might not have been on Frank Chisholm’s mind. The result was national champion PA Madelyn.”


Breeding and showing horses can be expensive and stressful. It can also be where you develop lifelong friendships and camaraderie. For Kristi, stallion ownership has become more about the people surrounding the horses and the relationships made along the way. Those who have bred to Bugatti, supported him, and owned and loved his babies are what make this game fun. It’s the amalgamation of big breeders, small breeders, and those, like Kristi, who sometimes feel like guppies swimming upstream. Their shared love for a special horse binds them in a unique tapestry of passion and dedication.


Despite receiving substantial offers for Bugatti over the years, Kristi and Michael have steadfastly declined, recognizing that the true wealth from Bugatti extends beyond monetary value. Always worried about whether or not someone else would be able to care for Bugatti the way he needed to be, Kristi carefully reviewed each offer, and with Michael’s support, turned them down. For them, the joy Bugatti brings to their family and the extended family of Team Bugatti holds a value far surpassing any financial gain, underscoring the deeper, more meaningful rewards found in the bonds formed and a shared love for a special horse.

Bugatti the Breeding Horse


The 2023 show season was a banner for Bugatti, as evidenced by reputable Arabian horse publications’ sire standings. KM Bugatti was the No. 1 purebred sire for hunter pleasure and the No. 2 sire for breeding in-hand in one publication & No. 3 purebred sire and No. 11 for Half-Arabians in another.


He is the only stallion to sire more than one AWPA or AHPA winner in the programs’ history. In 2023, he accomplished that in the same year, siring both the AWPA $100,000 Futurity Champion PA Madelyn (x May Dancer V) and the AHPA $100,000 Futurity Champion Diva SBA (x Major Primadonna, KM Stables’ foundation mare). Additionally, the AWPA Futurity reserve champion was sired by Bentley SF, a KM Bugatti son.


Bugatti progeny have won AHA achievement award points in 52 divisions, proof he truly is bridging the gap between performance and halter.


Within the Bugatti babies, Vicki Shula has found his temperament to be the most inheritable trait. “You can count on the ‘B’ babies to be smart and level-headed with wonderful personalities. You snap your fingers, and they are in ‘show horse’ mode! They are so much fun to have in the barn,” says Vicki, who stood Bugatti for years in Florida.

“KM Bugatti is bred generations deep to be a successful halter and performance horse, and to pass on his strengths to his get. Bugatti’s sire, Versace, is a breed icon noted for siring both type and athletic ability, but Bugatti’s dam side, although less immediately familiar, is filled with producers of national champions in halter and performance in North America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.”
- Arlene Magid

Bugatti Today – Allgood


Five years ago, Ted Carson strategically relocated his training operation to Allgood, Alabama. As part of that move, Bugatti swiftly settled in for his new chapter. The decision to move Bugatti from Florida wasn’t made lightly; he had always been conveniently located within driving distance, allowing Kristi easy access for visits. However, Ted’s professional barn and team, along with a cooler climate, provide the consistency and care that Bugatti thrives in, which, along with increased foot traffic from breeders, helped Kristi embrace the change.


With Ted at the lead and Brandi Carson handling the breeding operations, Bugatti has thrived. Entrusting Bugatti’s day-to-day care to Brian Sanders, an employee of Allgood, was an easy decision. Brian’s gentle nature and profound love for the horses under his charge ensure that Bugatti receives meticulous care and attention. With the well-coordinated team, Bugatti’s mental and physical well-being is prioritized, fostering an environment where he can flourish and continue contributing to his impressive legacy.

“We’re grateful to have Kristi and Bugatti be a part of the farm. They’re part of the farm’s identity, really, and we’re sure grateful.”
- Ted Carson

In the early morning hours of January 25th, 2023, there was something about Bugatti that just wasn’t quite right. After initially responding well to treatment, it soon became apparent that Bugatti was in trouble. Without hesitating, Ted loaded Bugatti in the trailer and headed for Coosa Valley Equine Center. The doctors at the hospital assessed the severity of Bugatti’s condition and quickly concluded that surgical intervention was the best option for a positive outcome. The clinic’s front doors were locked, and all hands were immediately on deck to orchestrate the level of care he needed. Surgery revealed a large colon torsion that could be corrected, and due to the swiftness of everyone’s response, all of the surrounding tissues were pink and healthy.


“Surgeons were relieved at their discovery, as the clinical signs going into surgery had them prepared for much more severe findings,” says Katie McGregor on a fundraising page she set up to help with Bugatti’s veterinary costs. “The clock is always ticking in these situations, and the quick actions of Ted Carson and his team at the farm made all of the difference in what we all know could have been a much worse outcome.”


Upon learning that someone had set up a fundraising page for Bugatti, Kristi initially felt a tinge of embarrassment. Never one to spare an expense on an animal, Kristi and Michael were unwavering in their commitment to securing the best possible outcome for Bugatti.


Regrettably, their family had been severely affected by Covid-related layoffs, and with colic surgeries often carrying a hefty price tag of over $15,000, financial challenges loomed.


Without knowledge of this personal part of the puzzle, Team Bugatti—comprising his fans, supporters, and admirers—rallied around Kristi and Bugatti, demonstrating that their friendship, love, and support endure through both good and challenging times.

Photo by Julie Adams

Bugatti bred 30 mares in 2023, an impressive number for any 18-year-old stallion. Attributing his success to Kristi’s grassroots marketing efforts, Ted says that “at the end of it, he (Bugatti) had an owner who was willing to keep him accessible during the time that it is hardest to market a stallion, specifically those years when they’re around 9 to about 14 or 15 years old. It’s really hard to keep them relevant. They’re done showing, and so many of them are never heard from again.


“There are some very successful English sires, but there’s simply no other stallion who impacts all main ring divisions the way KM Bugatti does,” Ted says. “What it boils down to it, as a sire, he can deliver a certain amount of quality that the main arena needs. He moves forward a mindset that is able to train properly, which is a huge part of today’s decision-making when it comes to breeding, and then they’re athletic, too.”


“And then he perseveres now, coming on 19 years old; he’s doing better than ever in his production record. The numbers speak for themselves.


“The other thing that is really fun in managing him is when people come to the farm, just about every person in the horse business wants their picture with him. It is really fun to watch the little kids that come to the barn. The parents are excited to take their picture with him, so then the kids want their picture with him too. Very few horses create that kind of attention and buzz when people come to the barn.”

As for Bugatti’s future, people are lining up to breed to him already. Ted says Bugatti is one of the only stallions that gets that kind of preparation from the breeders. “These days, with things being so digital and instant, most stallions are booked the week the mare needs to be bred. But for some reason, the mare owners that are breeding to Bugatti are planners. People prepare and plan for Bugatti way ahead of other stallions.”


In 2024, Ted and his team are taking two breeding-quality Bugatti sons to Scottsdale that will represent their sire. “It is hard to produce breeding-caliber stallions because our expectations are so high anymore. Between Allgood Avicii and AFA Gianelli, they’re both breeding animals and will move forward with that pedigree.”


KM Bugatti is redefining how things “should be” done … and the Arabian horse industry is embracing that. He’s known as the versatile sire that truly can do it all.