Horse racing syndicates have been around for decades. Cot Campbell’s Dogwood Stable in Kentucky was a pioneer in group ownership, offering shares in horses, or groups of horses, beginning in the early 1970s. Team Valor, West Point Thoroughbreds and more recently, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Starlight Racing, are other big-name American syndicates. Those partnerships are made for prospective owners with a bit more cash in their pockets than the everyday racing fan.
In the last few years, racing ‘clubs’ and fractional ownership opportunities have both exploded in popularity developed to allow you, your neighbours and your work mates a more affordable entry into owning that first racehorse. The long-term goal of these partnerships is to bring new participants into a sport that desperately needs new owners.
As Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds says on his website, “partnerships are today the backbone of Thoroughbred racing”, noting that the lower the risk for newcomers to horse ownership, the more appealing these first experiences can be.
The benefits of shared ownership are numerous: fewer bills and/or consolidated costs, opportunities to own shares in more than one horse, a chance to get up close to your horse and the racing experience, and meeting other horse racing lovers.
These days, many trainers will own a share of their horse with a few other owners and split the monthly costs, which can be upwards of $3,000. Buying into some of these trainer syndicates could start as low as $1,000 per share, a one-time fee for the season that includes all bills. Three Canadian tracks ‒ Hastings Racecourse in British Columbia, Assiniboia Downs in Manitoba and Century Mile/Century Downs in Alberta ‒ have introduced ‘clubs’ where one or several horses are obtained and some 50 to 100 shares are sold from as low as $250, also covering bills.
The newest fractional ownership businesses have proven popular. These programs offer shareholders regular video updates, interviews and news, and meet-and-greets at the barns and tracks. In Ontario Standardbred racing, TheStable was started in 2015 and it has dozens of horses, each with numerous owners, racing throughout North America at all levels.
MyRacehorse was hatched in California late in 2017 offering micro-shares for as little as $100 in dozens of well-bred horses. In June 2020, MyRacehorse bought into Kentucky Derby contender Authentic, attracting 5,314 investors who acquired a 12.5% stake in the colt through the MyRacehorse app and website. The colt went on to win the Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1). Each share in Authentic sold for $206.
Of course, some 5,000 micro-shares for just under one-ninth of a racehorse is not going to make shareholders rich and for the most part, making money owning a racehorse – whether you own 100 percent or .01 percent – is difficult. But the lure is the connection to the horse, the jockeys, and the sport.
Sarah Friesen has shares in several horses through MyRacehorse, but the Winnipeg resident is also part of the Assiniboia Racing Club.
“What I love about Assiniboia Racing Club is that they are at my home track. I will get to see our horse Benory race this year,” said Friesen. “Not only to you get to see your horses but you meet the jockeys, you meet many in the backstretch, and you make friends with many in the horse racing world. I love the experience it gives you; it’s fun to share the experience of cheering for your horse together with many owners of same horse,”
Jordan Froelich has parlayed his involvement in the Hastings Racing Club into forming his own small stable, certainly a goal of all racing clubs.
“What drew me into Hastings Racing Club was the low entry fee and the love of the sport,” said Froelich. “I didn’t realize at the time of signing up that you get all the benefits as someone who is a sole 100 percent owner: access to the backstretch, the ability to go watch morning works, free racing program, and free parking are all great advantages. I believe it helps get younger people get into horse racing if promoted properly. Most young people could never afford to get into ownership with the costs associated with it. What a great stepping stone for people to take.
“Now that I’ve been involved for the past four years, I’ve taken the step this year to ship in four horses from the US under my own ownership. The club’s leaders have helped me immensely over the last four years to understand the background logistics of horse racing ownership that I would have never understood just being a fan or a bettor.”
Below are just some of the opportunities to get involved in racehorse ownership. You can also contact your provincial Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association or local track to find out which trainers are offering partnerships.
MANITOBA: Assiniboia Racing Club
In its sixth year, the Assiniboia Racing Club at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg was initiated and developed by John Field, a volunteer member of the Manitoba HBPA. The ARC has been a success story for one of Canada’s most popular tracks.
This year’s club is comprised of 46 members who hold 47 shares. All shareholders are licensed as racehorse owners by the Manitoba Horse Racing Commission. The operation of the club is governed by a Memorandum of Understanding adopted by all members. Essentially, all members purchase a share in the partnership for $500 which covers the purchase, care and management of a racehorse to race at Assiniboia. At the end of the season all proceeds are divided on a per share basis between the members. A good home is found for the racehorse following its racing career. Members are not exposed to any loss over and above their original share purchase price.
As with other years, there are a wide range of ages and racing experience represented in the Racing Club, with some members being brand new to the sport while others are veterans; 15 of the membership are women.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual spring social/barbecue and barn tour could not be accommodated but members can still visit the club’s horse, watch gallops, and watch timed workouts and have breakfast in the backstretch kitchen.
The ARC’s horse for 2022 is Benroy, who won his maiden for the club in 2021. The son of Bodemeister is trained by Devon Gittens.
BRITISH COLUMBIA: Hastings Racing Club
The Hastings Racing Club, founded by the late Glen Todd, has had tremendous success in its first six years. Developed by the late Richard Yates, the HRC’s first horse was Square Dancer, who reeled off three straight wins in 2015 including the Redekop Classic and S.W. Randall Plate, as well as finishing second in the Grade 3 B.C. Premier’s Stakes. Square Dancer had about 200 owners, making for a boisterous and crowded winner’s circle every time the son of Circular Quay won.
A share in the club costs $300 for an entire year (November 2021 through October 2022) and the membership fees are used for care and training. Any winnings and remaining funds are returned to the club members at the end of the year.
Shareholders are required to be officially licensed owners, which gives each owner full access to the backstretch at Hastings to watch the horse train, and meet and talk with the trainer and the barn staff.
A membership also gives each shareholder frequent updates on the horse as well as plenty of information about owning a racehorse.
Once a club horse is finished his racing career, the horse will be placed in a new career with the help of the New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society.
The HRC is anxiously awaiting a full season of racing at Hastings racecourse in Vancouver after the pandemic shortened the two previous meetings. The club is run by Matt Elder and Mark Freeman and they can be reached at [email protected] or here.
ALBERTA: Century Horse Racing Club
Launched in 2016 by Century Casinos, the Century Horse Racing Club shares a lot of the same perks as the Assiniboia and Hastings clubs but it includes horses from both racing breeds in the province. In 2022, the CHRC has four horses – two Thoroughbreds and two Standardbreds.
The CHRC is a modified fractional ownership group that lets members experience the thrill of horse ownership without the recurring financial commitment. It features a one-time buy-in (one share in the club costs $250) that gives members all the fun, with none of the worry, for the entire 2022 racing season. Members are granted access to the club at both locations, Century Mile and Century Downs. Additional perks include regular updates about the club horses and private barn tours.
The HBPA Ontario and Ontario Racing websites list many syndicate options for racing at Woodbine, Fort Erie and at the Quarter Horse track, Ajax Downs. Contact the HBPA for more, as there are also many trainers not listed below who will entertain partnerships. For example, Michael Blake is looking to claim a horse at the upcoming Keeneland meeting and offer five to 10 percent shares with the expenses equally distributed between shareholders and himself.
Beat The Feet Racing Stable, formed by owner and trainer Sylvain Pion and wife Teri, is back for 2022 with two options for prospective shareholders. The two young horses available are Mr. Commish, a three-year-old Kentucky bred by Commissioner who showed promise in his debut outing last fall at Woodbine. A five percent share in Mr. Commish is $3,500 and there are no other costs through the season.
Shebatown, an unraced three-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Jersey Town – Seeking Sheba (Seeking the Gold), is available at $5,000 for five percent ownership. The promising filly was bred by Charles Fipke.
Double Blooded Stable
Julia Ezra and her father, owner/trainer Daryl, have done well with their syndicate in its early years. The Double Blooded Stable, based in Fort Erie, made headlines in the fall of 2021 when one of its horses, Ready at Dawn, raced in the Prince of Wales Stakes, the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown.
“We started out in 2019 and called it ‘Krazy 8 Stables’,” said Julia Ezra. “That group won six races together at both tracks and the next year we expanded and started up Double Blooded Stables. Last season we had a capital of $40,000 with 19 members. This year we have a capital of $25,000 and 14 members, of which, 11 have been members of our previous syndicates.” They currently own Ready At Dawn and may or may not get another horse, depending on his earnings/equity.
The Double Blood Stable syndicate costs $1,000 as a one-time payment. Contact Julia Ezra via Facebook for more information or use the HBPA contact form in the Beat The Feet section.
Ted Holder Syndicate
Trainer Ted Holder is offering shares in an Ontario-bred two-year-old colt by Mr. Speaker from the mare Grey Pride for racing at Woodbine in 2022. A share is $5,000 (US) and is a one-time payment. The colt, a full brother to two winners, has been training in Ocala, Florida. For more information, call Ted Holder at 647-921-1654.
Kathy Patton Syndicate
Multiple graded stakes winner trainer Kathy Patton is forming a syndicate of 20 shares at $5,000 (CAN) for 2022. The share price covers all training and racing expenses for the year. Contact Kathy at 647-609-3445.
Good luck, and good racing!