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Running Down a Dream
Bob Carson takes new owners from sales ring to turnout
written by Bob Carson

Chapter 6 - Thoughts about ownership
“Can't Buy Me Love”
By The Beatles, 1964

Photo Source: Wikipedia

January, 18, 2011
   
Hello Gang,

Let’s do some math on this wintery day. It’s important.

At some point you have each asked this seemingly simple question, “So what are the costs if I ever decide to buy a harness racehorse on my own?” 

My previous answers have been fuzzy. There are variables, tons of them. Here are some additional ballpark figures to ponder.  Including her purchase price, Fantail Hanover will cost Jim and me approximately $30,000 over the next twelve months.  You can do the math; if you owned Fantail yourself, you are on the hook for $30,000, if you own 10%, you are on the hook for $3,000.  If you sign up for 1% ownership, the whole year will cost you just $300.

Costs also depend on the original purchase price of the yearling. You can buy yearlings for as little as $1,000, and it is not unusual to watch bidders pay $100,000. I’m guessing the average yearling price is in the neighborhood of $25,000 [Editor's Note: The average yearling price was $18,937 in 2010]. Even that rough average price is flexible. Current economic conditions, how prosperous the state harness racing purses are and even pending state legislation may affect the harness racing market.

The ability to get involved in horse ownership for a very modest amount of money is a cool part of the sport that surprises people.  If you owned 2% of Fantail Hanover and she is a complete bust as a racehorse, a loss of $600 is not the end of the world. And a doomsday scenario, where all money goes out and no money comes in will happen. It happened to us last year.

On the other hand, one of the perks of this game is that you CAN make money. My financial advice is if you decide to get into harness (yuk, yuk) - figure on the doomsday scenario and let any income be a pleasant surprise. This is harder to do than you might think because we all, “Just know that our horse will make money.”

One year from today, refer back to this page and consider how much enjoyment you received.  Weigh the enjoyment you received against the dollar value of the experiment. Everyone is different.  At the end of the year, all seven of you may look at the Fantail Hanover experience differently.  Doug may say, “That was a blast. I wish I had bought the horse myself.”  Margie may say, “I’m glad I didn’t put up my money.”

In my opinion, if you enjoy the game, harness race horse ownership offers some real pluses. You can decide how much you want to invest. You can get into the game for a surprisingly small amount (I have owned as little as 5% and had a great ride).  You can get some money back (not many hobbies or pastimes can say this). You can own 100% of a horse and make all of the racing decisions or simply stay in the background and go along for the ride.

But this is not a sales pitch – it’s an experiment. The cost question should be answered on your own terms, from your own point of view. It is the reason behind this experiment.

That’s enough talk about expenses and money. Below is a picture of Fantail on her first day at the training center.

Fantail Hanover arrives in The Wollam Stable. 
Today, like about 1,200 other PA-eligible yearlings,
she has never lost a race.
      


Thinking about jumping into horse ownership?

E-mail owners@ustrotting.com and we will get you more information to get started in the racing game. Click here to share this story with a friend.



Editor's Note: The views contained in this column are that of the author alone, and do not necessarily represent the opinions or views of the United States Trotting Association.

Bob Carson
Hoof Beats Magazine About the Author
Bob Carson's award-winning freelance writing has appeared in more than two dozen national publications. He is a steady contributor to Trot Magazine, The United States Trotting Association and Timeline Magazine. After more than 200 magazine articles and stories, his first novel, The Voyage of Mess (humor) was released in 2009. In 2005 he produced the documentary film, Touching Home (Minor League Baseball). In 2006 he received the Hervey Award for Journalistic Excellence and Best of Ohio Fiction awards. He has published Minor Trips (Minor League Baseball) since 1991. Bob Carson has owned harness horses for more than a decade, including a stint as a weekend trainer. He lives in Strongsville, Ohio, with his wife, Sue, and daughter, Katie.
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