Friday, December 7, 2007

How Much is Fair?

In an interesting development, we fired our first trainer before we really got rolling. Actually, this needs some background first.

We have a wonderful horsewoman who will be taking care of our interests in FL until she can bring our string up here to Canterbury in the spring. She has remained nameless up until now as there is no agreement in place yet, but needless to say, I have a great deal of confidence in her abilities. In FL she will be training under someone and will run her own operation here in Minnesota for several reasons, none of which are of any concern.

Well, the first person she was in contact with was a trainer from Delaware Park. He only runs a small operation, but I'm OK with that. In fact, I would prefer a trainer with a smaller stable in order to get more attention and service and our horses don't get lost in the barn! He offered up a day rate of $60 a day!! For those of you that are unaware of the terminology, the day rate is a daily rate trainers charge to cover the cost of feed, stabling and training your horse. It varies greatly among trainers and the philosophy of many, including our trainer in waiting (Ms. Trainer, for now), that the day rate should cover your costs, but you make your real money with the wins and money finishes. Basically, pay for performance.

As a comparison, Doug O'Neil, a world class conditioner of such champion horses as Stevie Wonderboy and Lava Man has a day rate of roughly $70 (based upon financial statement from the PWMNBN) in the very expensive Southern California circuit. Mr. Delaware Park has a lifetime winning percentage of 8%!! I was stunned, but much to my happiness, Ms. Trainer was as well. So we've moved on and are looking for a more reasonable partner.

I understand that trainers have to make a living. We all do and we're all in this business to make money, but a day rate of close to $2000 a month plus 10% of the purse money...I think that's outrageous. It also makes the economics of this venture unsound and I won't put my groups on unsound footing right out of the gate (or ever, if I can help it!).

So thank you, Ms. Trainer, for validating my confidence in your judgment. We'll see what we negotiate with another conditioner, but one thing you can be sure of - it will be fair to all.

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