Buying Your First Racehorse: What Winners Know

A racehorse may seem like a luxury, but like everything else nowadays, one can be found at a steep discount.

jockey, horse

You need not be royalty to buy entry into the "sport of kings." That's because stables have started offering multiowner partnerships. An initial investment of $25,000 will generally get you (or your group of friends) a 25 percent interest in a quality contender. "The ex-chairman of Dow Chemical owns a share in every horse at our stable," says Cot Campbell, president of Dogwood Stable, a top-ranked racing stable in South Carolina. "And the head of Prudential owned part of a horse named Smok'n Frolic, who earned about $1.5 million in three years."

A racehorse may seem like a luxury, but like everything else nowadays, one can be found at a steep discount. To pick a winner, deal with a reputable, professional stable that buys yearlings; to find a stable near you, contact the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association or the American Horse Council. Most stables will mail you a brochure of horses. Despite what you might imagine, buying a racehorse is much like buying a new car, and there's no reason to send a vet to examine your steed (quality stables have streamlined the vet-check process to ease the burden of purchase). As with any big investment, you'll sign a legal agreement. Then you'll fill out a license in the state where you're going to race (the stable also provides this at no extra cost).

Next: Enjoy the ride. The average horse runs 10 times a year. You and your brood will get free admission to the stables' box, meet the jockey and trainer, and hang out with your horse in the paddock before the race.

Best Life No-Brainer: Stable owners generally estimate that only 33 percent of horses make money. The good news is that you can write off the expense on your taxes, so it's a worthwhile investment, even if you don't win. "Horse racing isn't for widows and orphans," says Campbell, "but it's the most exciting venture in the world."

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