Friday, October 12, 2007

Getting Into the Game

As this year's racing season enters the winter doldrums (yes, there are places that don't have year round racing - Minnesota, not surprisingly, is one of those places) thoughts turn to the Breeder's Cup and, less dramatically, next season at Canterbury.

At some point I'll post my road to racehorse ownership, but for now I'm going to address the issue of bringing friends into the game. As we look toward next year, our Managing Partner, David Miller, is forming another partnership with possibly a pair of two year old fillys to race next season at Canterbury. While the core of us from this year's group are interested, I'm looking at inviting some friends and colleagues to join us. They had a great time - or at least humored me - watching us go through our first full season at Canterbury. A question I had to ask myself was - Do you have any trepidation in inviting friends to join a racing partnership which is inheritently very risky and you run the risk of losing all your initial investment and them some?

I could answer that question very simply - I have none at all. For all folks interested out there in their own partnerships, just address the following considerations:

Don't sell, inform. Eyes wide open is always the best policy when it comes to horse racing. Costs should be outlined up front. Talk about the trainer, pedigree, forward plans (which are always subject to change) and did I mention costs? There should be NO EXPECTATION to make any money. Money should be used to buy racehorses that you can afford to go without.
Did I mention costs? Everyone should keep in mind that monthly billing estimates are just that - estimates! There may be some vet issues that flair up from time to time and that'll lead to an override in the budget. Your horse may never finish in the money and therefore never pay her way. He may never develop enough to make it to the races (in the case of a yearling or two-year old). There are a myriad of things that could go wrong. Do not view this as an investment in the traditional sense.

Keep the group small. Don't sell 1% shares or the like. Logistically too much to handle. I would recommend a minimum of 10% shares. This way the group maxes out at 10 and is very managable.

HAVE FUN!! I capitalized this one because it is so important. Get involved because of the love of the game, love of the horse and to have some fun. Get yourself licensed and go visit your horses. Get involved, but don't be a pain in the butt with your trainer or managing partner (this will be a whole other post, by the way). Take pictures, video and get to the races. If you're not in this to have some fun first and foremost, then it shouldn't be considered.

Have realistic expectations. I have no illusions that our Minnesota-breds will be running in the Breeder's Cup - I fantasize about it, don't get me wrong! But I do not have unrealistic expactations that our little group will produce the next Funny Cide. Those are few and far between and are more like lightening strikes rather than carefully planned success stories. My hope is that we win a few, get some photos, have some fun and earn as much as we spend. If that's not possible, then so be it, but I expect nothing and hope for the best. And if we should great struck by lightening...

I think a group of friends is one helluva way to get involved in racing and using the above as a rough guideline, you're off to a great start!

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