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Four Pros and Cons of Owning With a Racing Partnership

May 22, 2013 · By Thomas Bellhouse · Share
Partnerships allow thousands of people to get involved in owning a racehorse for a fraction of the cost of doing it on their own.  I’d love to tell you there’s not a single drawback to going this route, but it’s true that racing partnerships aren’t for everyone. The question is not “are partnerships the best way to own a racehorse?” The real question is: “is a partnership the best way for me to have the greatest ownership experience?” In this post I’m going to outline a few pros and cons of owning with West Point Thoroughbreds.  It is up to you to assess whether the positives outweigh the negatives.  Of course, I hope they do for you!
 
 
 
Pro: More Quality Horses for Your Budget - Portfolio diversification - it’s crucial with your investments and crucial in your racing stable. Partnerships allow you to take a budget and spread it over a few horses. Let’s use an example investment of $40,000. This budget can get you ownership shares in three or four horses with West Point, maybe more. On your own at the exclusive sales like Fasig-Tipton, OBS, and Keeneland September, that price is going to get you one horse at the lower end of the sale, and doesn’t include any built-in training costs like our model does.  So, with a partnership, you have the power to buy a higher-quality horse, and more of them, for your budget.

Con: Limited Selection - About 23,000 foals were born in 2011. The WPT buying team will run their hands and eyes over a few hundred of them at the various sales before narrowing it down to the best athletes; the ones we want to run under the black and gold silks. We purchase around 25 horses per year, and those are then syndicated to our Partners. When you buy with WPT, you’re limited to the horses that we select from the sale. This can be either a positive or a negative depending on your level of experience in selecting top-quality racehorses. You can read a bit more about who buys the racehorses for West Point Thoroughbreds here.

Pro: Fewer Bills, Consolidated Costs - When you own a fraction of a horse, you only have to worry about a fraction of the maintenance costs. We build in the training costs through the 2-year-old season, and after that each Partner is responsible for their ownership percentage of their horses’ maintenance.  Five percent of a training bill is a lot friendlier on the wallet than 100%. Overall, this key principle is paramount: with a partnership you have lower risk  - but also lower reward. You pay a fraction of the bills, and you receive your fraction of the purse earnings.

Con: Some Additional Costs - Believe me, it’s less expensive overall to own a horse with a partnership than it is on your own, but with a partnership you can expect some additional costs that a sole owner does not have. For example, you will have to pay an administrative fee.  Additionally, WPT takes a percentage of the purse earnings once a horse's syndication price is met. Lastly, our horses are marked up. This is how we pay our employees and run the administrative side of the business. Please refer to our pricing structure blog for more information about this topic.

Pro: The Best Trainers - There’s strength in numbers. As I mentioned, we buy about 25 horses each year.  We employ trainers to condition those horses.  If you buy a horse on your own, it can be challenging to find a top trainer willing to take on only one horse. Additionally, these horsemen know we buy top-quality thoroughbreds, and they want to train them. We are reputable on all fronts: performance, business, and horse quality.  Read more about our team of trainers here.

Con: Limited Control and Limited Access to Your Trainer - In a partnership, you’ll be relying on the management decisions of other people, the racing managers. These decisions include trainer selection, competition circuit, race targets, and time off.  The key point here, just like in all of racing, is past performances. Who is the manager (for WPT, it is Terry Finley) and what is his or her track record?

You want to see that the manager has campaigned successful horses, and has been able to retain partners over many years.  Take a look at our Accomplishments page to see some stats about the black and gold. While WPT Partners do enjoy exclusive access to our trainers via backstretch visits and private conference calls, the amount of individual face-time can be different than someone who owns a horse on their own.  With over 500 Partners nationwide, it is difficult for our trainers to make time for each and every one. However, many of our Partners have had memorable experiences meeting and talking with the trainer of their horses.  

Pro: It’s Fun! - Why does anyone get involved in racing?  For fun, for competition, for the thrill of victory. At WPT, we strive to provide the ownership experience at the highest levels for a fraction of the cost. We take away the headaches of billing and administration, buy the best horses we can, and put them with the most talented and proven trainers.  All so that our Partners can enjoy the ride of a lifetime.  

Con: Crowded Winner’s Circles - This is my favorite negative aspect to discuss! What a great problem to have:  too many happy people in the winner’s circle.  Personally, this is not an issue for me; I think of WPT like a big family, and I love when Partners bring their families to share in their passion and excitement. Of course, if you own a horse on your own, you can be the star of the win photo. With a partnership, if you own 10%, you should expect at least 19 other people in that photo if you win on a weekend or at Saratoga or Del Mar. WPT issues guidelines in our Partner handbook: each owner can bring one guest into the winner’s circle, and we generally discourage Partners who do not own the horse from going into the winner’s circle.

I chuckled when people were able to buy tiny shares of the Green Bay Packers – our Partners have been owning and experiencing much more than that for 20 years! It’s like being involved in the ownership of a pro sports team without risking your entire life fortune - and I love to watch people live their racing dreams at WPT!
 
Below is one of my favorite wins with WPT- King Congie breaking his maiden in November 2010. And no, I didn't bet him at 44-1. What was I thinking? 
 
            

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