Home > Running Down a Dream > Chapter 20 - Season Recap

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

Chapter 20 - Season Recap
'Man in the Mirror'
By Michael Jackson, 1988

Photo Source: Wikipedia

Doug, Mary, Diane, Pat, Bob, Margie, Joe -

Mariko Hanover and Fantail Hanover are turned out on a farm in Amish country for rest and growth. Basically, turned out means that they stand around and relax.

This has been a great year. You picked a good year to tag along. We have had a couple of great races, and a couple of big disappointments. That’s horse racing.

If you have enjoyed the season as much as I hoped you would, you might want to know the stark reality of the economics for your future decisions. Below I will detail the numbers, but here is the bottom line - this was the best season Jim and I have ever experienced with two year olds. Both made it to the races, both won a race, and both gave us a lot of thrills.

But we still lost money.

This leads me back to the theme of an earlier chapter of this experiment, don’t EXPECT to make money, just enjoy the ride and maybe DREAM about making some money.

The grand total of all expenses (Including purchase) for Mariko was $34,257.50.

Mariko earned $24,279. This was an outstanding year for us, our best ever moneywise.

The grand total of all expenses for Fantail was $29,061.80.

Fantail earned $8,332.

Fantail had an interesting year. She did not have very good luck early; she just may not have been mentally ready. In retrospect, we wish we would have skipped the Fair circuit. Fantail showed glimmers of speed and always had a very good attitude. Her last race, which she won, really gave us hope, hope based on pedigree because Fantail’s family history is interesting.

Fantail’s grandmother had 6 foals – ALL of them raced. Fantail’s mother (Fanclub Hanover) had two foals (including Fantail) and they both raced. 8 for 8. 100% made it to the races. However, virtually NONE of these 8 horses raced at age 2, none of the 8 did anything of note at age 2; they all got very good later, at ages 3 and 4. Our hope, of course, is that the best is yet to come with Fantail.

Remember, whenever these horses sell, some money will be coming back. How much is anyone’s guess. Also, the three-year-old season will be less expensive because there is not a purchase price and the horses can race much more often at age 3. This, of course, gives them more chances to earn money.


There is another way to enter into harness horse ownership. You can cut costs and make the odds more favorable by “claiming” a proven racehorse. This allows you to buy a horse and race the following week. Claiming a horse is sort of like buying a used car, they have proven they can race and you skip the months of training and staking. The path Jim and I take, buying yearlings and shooting for the moon is much more difficult and costly.

How difficult is stakes racing? I offer the following paragraphs about last season’s crop of yearlings to show the stark fiscal reality of purchasing yearlings.

The sire (father) of Fantail Hanover is a horse named No Pan Intended. No Pan Intended sent 24 babies to auction from the same year (crop) that Fantail was born. At the end of the 2 year old racing season we can look back and see how the 24 offspring of No Pan Intended made out as race horses (this information is available on the USTA website under “Sires Statistics”). Of the 24 No Pan Intended horses, Fantail had the 5th most money earned and the 5th fastest time; yet she still earned less than $10,000.

It is a similar story with Mariko Hanover. The sire (father) of Mariko is a horse named Cantab Hall. Cantab Hall sent 113 horses to auction from the same year (crop) that Mariko was born. At the end of the 2 year old racing season, Mariko had the 22nd most money earned and the 23rd fastest time; yet she still did not (quite) cover her expenses.

The bottom line is that it is difficult to show a profit with yearlings. The average earnings for the crop of 24 No Pan Intended offspring were $10,492. The average earnings for the crop of 113 Cantab Hall’s offspring were $21,019.

On the other hand (and this is and this is what makes the game so exciting and keeps dreams alive), one of those 24 offspring of No Pan Intended made over $100,000 and five of Cantab Hall’s 113 made over $100,000.

The dream of being one of those big winners, of selecting the yearling that will rise to the top of the heap, is what fuels the game.

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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