Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Expectations Hurt Integrity

I decided a few months back that I was going to take the plunge again into horse ownership. In the past, my ownership involvement had been in commercial racing partnerships. The kind where a farm or partnership company would offer ten percent shares in a horse. This was fun, and an easy way to get involved in the game. I did this with a local farm where I was able to go out and see the horses, and watch them work out. It was fun, but I started to question some of the decision making of the management company. The fun disappears when you ask yourself "Is this in the best interest of the horse, or the management company?" This time, I was going to go into ownership with a few buddies. The plan was to pick a trainer and go to the sales until we found what we, and the trainer liked. The thought was a two year old in training would offer up the best opportunity.

I started on my quest. I met with a number of trainers, pinhookers, and breeding operations. Everyone offered up different advice. Some advised about the downside of the industry, others promised a trip to Kentucky on the first Saturday in May. This was when I started to question the industry. While at the sales, someone would say "That colt is small, but a few months of Equipoise, and he'll be a monster." The more people I met, the more I questioned the integrity of the industry as a whole. I had to stop asking questions, because I did not want to hear the answers.

I love the sport of horse racing. I often turn a blind eye to the problems of the industry, because of my love for the game. Now that I am involved first hand, I am beginning to realize that it all starts with the owners. Owners have ridiculous expectations of the horses they buy. People go to the sales and by a $5,000 filly expecting to run it in a Maiden Special Weight, or $40,000 claiming event. They expect that a $25,000 two year old will be running for black type in months. Owners need to be more realistic about their horses. Trainers need to explain that a $10,000 purchase should be running with other horses of the same value. The trainers try to make you believe that with a few shots and supplements, you will have the next Lava Man or Smarty Jones. I have found that trainers need to foster the dreams of the owners in order to stay in business. If the dream of winning the Triple Crown or the Breeders Cup fades for the owners, the trainers will be done. The trainers must continue to do whatever it takes to make the horses step up in class. If they don't, the owners change trainers, or get out of the game.

An owners expectations are part of the reason for a lack of integrity of the trainers.

Think about it!


Rising Rainbow said...

You are so right! Owners and their values are the key. If an owner only thinks about winning, the horse is expendable. If the owner thinks about the horse first, they must be prepared to not be sucessful. Are you doing it for fun or doing it to win? can you win later or must you win NOW?

Unfortunately for horses, it's not just the race industry. This moral dilema is the same in whatever discipline horses are exhibited in. Race horses, show horses, breed specialties, they all have their dirty little secrets that are at the expense of the horse.

So the real question, is are we as individuals strong enough to buck the system and do what is best for our horses?

John (AKA Not Too Swift) said...

Good Luck Baloo

You are right about the unrealistic expectations of many that get in the game. A healthy dose of skepticism can prevent mistakes from being made. I look forward to hearing about your ownership experience. I have been in three partnerships and look back on them all as very positive experiences (even though) all but one lost money. If you love the game the money doesn't seem to matter that much. Listen to me I sound like a Maktoum!

Handride said...

great point. The same can be said of financial advisers. you gotta know what you're buying

Pjon10 said...


Excellent post. You have echoed many of the thoughts we have discussed since your entry into race horse ownership 4 years ago (has it been that long!). The collective experience that you have gained from your horse partnerships (which you have shared with your friends and family, and now this blog) has been invaluable. The education gained has been well worth the investiments made and will enable you (and your future partners) to make the correct choices for the owners and most importantly the horses in your stable.


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