We are owners of the most expensive, most pampered, and arguably the most beautiful domesticated creature the world has ever known: THE THOROUGHBRED RACEHORSE. Owning them brings unparalleled excitement. What thrill can match the sight of your horse, bearing a jockey in the colors and the design you have chosen, blazing through the last furlong of the race and snatching victory at the finish line? It doesn’t get much better than that. Our attachment to the horses we own is so deep that the vast majority of us are willing to lose money each year in order to maintain our steeds. When one veteran owner was asked, ”Do you stay in because you can’t resist the challenge?” He replied, “No… because I can’t resist the dream.”
Owners, along with the people who wager on races, are the sole sources of support for the entire racing industry. In the aggregate, Owners have poured the ransom of many kingdoms into the support of their steeds. Owners are tied emotionally and economically to the sport of racing, to the business of breeding, and to buying crop after crop of these beautiful animals. Do we have to lose money in order to stay in the game? Possibly. But the combination of proper management and the careful acquisition of durable horses can go a long way toward cutting potential losses, and it can turn a stable “bought for pleasure” from a losing proposition into an economically viable – even very profitable – operation.
There is no guarantee that durable winning horses can be found. On the other hand, every owner can become a knowledgeable and successful manager if he or she is willing to take the time to learn how to do something more about thoroughbred ownership than write the monthly support check. In general, owning is a lonely occupation. Most of us must pursue careers outside racing so that we can provide the economic support demanded by our stables. We rarely have the opportunity to share our knowledge and the lessons we’ve learned with other owners. There are no regularly held forums (with the possible exception of the General Membership meetings and Open Forums of the TOC) in which owners’ ideas can be discussed. In the course of informal interviews with many owners, the authors have found a persistent answer to questions about the manner in which their thoroughbred business is run: “Well, that’s just the way we’ve always done it….”
Racing is perhaps the only sport that seems to treat its devotees as “outsiders.” The language of racing can be intimidating even to experienced owners. In some cases, it stymies the impulse to become involved in the day-to-day operation of the stable’s business.
It doesn’t matter how much of any single horse you own, or how many you have committed to support; you are operating a stable. Whether you’re already a veteran owner, or simply wondering about becoming involved in the ownership of thoroughbred horses, there are matters of sound management that deserve consideration, many of which are outlined in the Thoroughbred Owners Handbook now online on this site. Owning a racehorse is not for everyone. The experience is an emotional and financial roller coaster. There are no guarantees – indeed, there will probably be more disappointments than successes. (A vivid reminder is that there is only one winner in every race; the rest are “runners-up” who may or may not share in the earnings and who achieve only small glory).
However, no matter what the “business” outcome may be, one thing is certain: if you love the beauty and spectacle of “The Sport of Kings,” if you love the idea of stabling and owning a gifted – and perhaps one day fabled – equine athlete, and if you love the combination of challenge, chance and skill, you will not be disappointed. There is a world of practical knowledge and even personal instinct you can acquire once you plunge into the management business. A great place to begin is our online Handbook.
The TOC offices at each California racetrack also stock a wealth of printed materials with information on everything from conformation to syndicates. We encourage you to stop by or call one of our offices, listed on our Contacts page. You may also contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or to request information be sent to you. The first step to becoming a successful owner is gathering sound information, and TOC is here to help you every step of the way!
All CHRB-licensed owners automatically become members of the TOC. There are no membership dues; and shortly after getting your owner’s license from the California Horse Racing Board you will receive a welcome packet from us. As the State-recognized representative of owners, TOC serves as a voice for the broad interests of Thoroughbred owners and strives to improve and increase representation of horse owners in the day-to-day activities of racing.
TOC represents owners legislatively in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. and administratively through purse negotiations with the racing associations. In addition, TOC runs educational seminars for prospective, new, and veteran owners.