Ever wanted to become part-owner of a race horse but thought you couldn’t? You thought wrong. Thanks to MyRacehorse, ownership has never been easier or more affordable. I know because I joined the partnership in mid-May and have loved every second of it.
The Right Opportunity
As far back as I can remember following the sport, I always wanted to be a race horse owner.
But not just any horse. I had strict parameters.
First and foremost, it had to be something I could afford. This is not a cheap venture, no matter what level you’re at, and you should enter it knowing you won’t turn a profit. Fellow Racing Dudes author Brandon Bauer and I would sometimes joke about pooling our money and tagging a horse out of the bottom-most level at Santa Anita, the $6,250 claimers, just to have a little skin in the game. But even that wasn’t realistic, not for two guys who just recently stopped living paycheck to paycheck. Not when the average race horse in Southern California costs $40,000 annually, according to a 2014 survey from the Thoroughbred Owner View.
More importantly than the cost, I got into this sport because of my love for the horses. If you’ve ever visited a track and saw them up close, you understand it. So I knew that if I was going to invest my hard-earned money into a horse, then that horse needed to be accessible. I wanted the opportunity to see my horse in-person, whether in a race or at the crack of dawn during training hours. Tangibility was a must.
And of course, who wants to own a horse that doesn’t run very well? While every single horse is beautiful in its own way, I wanted the thrill of knowing that my horse had a chance to win any race it entered. After all, winning is part of the fun.
Finally, on a more personal, nitpicky level, my dream horse was a filly that flourished on grass courses. I don’t know why, but my favorite races to watch are those that are run over turf. And while the purses for males are higher, fillies carry much more residual value post-racing than their male counterparts. Once retired to become broodmares, females can earn as much or more than they earned on the track, and as an added bonus, imagine the fun of following and cheering for your horse’s future offspring.
So you see, if I was going to invest in a horse, I either needed the perfect opportunity or I needed to win the lottery, and I honestly wasn’t sure which was more likely to happen.
Then I heard about MyRacehorse.
The Right Cost
Brandon deserves full credit (or blame, if you’re Mrs. Magic) for introducing me to this brand-new venture on May 16, 2018 (more on this date later). While I’d had several opportunities to join other partnerships in the past, none of them covered every angle that I mentioned earlier. Some were affordable but competed on the other side of the country; others were based in SoCal but fell outside the window of what I could spend without being forced to sleep on the couch for eternity. But with MyRacehorse, I knew in an instant that this was different.
First, let’s talk about the accessibility. MyRacehorse is not just a website; it’s also a fully-functional app. The founder, Michael Behrens, wisely went about setting MyRacehorse apart from the myriad of other partnership groups. The site and app are both transparent and easy to navigate. You want to know how much money they paid buying into a horse? It’s there. You want to know how your money is being spent? It’s there. You want to know who’s training your horse where and what the experts think about it? It’s all there.
How about the cost? With MyRacehorse, you buy individual shares in one or more horses for as little as $100. That’s it. Daily trainer fees? Included. Vet bills? Included. Only the choicest vegan, gluten-free hay and oats harvested from local micro-farms? You guessed it: included. And in case you’re interested in the nitty-gritty business side, the site happily tells you that the company is 100% legal and securities compliant (since you’re technically buying stock).
Clearly, this was something that I could afford, so parameter one? Check.
The Right Horse
MyRacehorse is based in Claremont, California, about 20 miles east of Santa Anita Park, so naturally, several of the first batch of horses offered were based at “The Great Race Place.” Not only is Santa Anita one of the top tracks in the nation, it’s also less than a half hour’s drive from my home, and during open meets, it’s where I spend my Saturdays working for the Racing Dudes. What better track to have a horse train and compete than the one that’s become my second home?
Before officially launching on June 9, MyRacehorse had four horses under its banner, three of which called Santa Anita home (Sigesmund is currently with trainer Michelle Nevin in New York). One was Bullion, an unraced juvenile colt by Ghostzapper under the care of Hall of Fame conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer. At $470 a share, though, he was a little too rich for my blood. Next was a 5-year-old battle-tested gelding named Swiss Minister out of the Genaro Vallejo barn. A winner in his last start and trained by an up-and-comer, Swiss Minister seemed like a good opportunity, but he wasn’t the right horse for me. He wasn’t Moonless Sky.
The moment I read her profile, I knew she was the one. A 5-year-old mare with good pedigree (her bloodline features Triple Crown champions Secretariat and Seattle Slew). Proven excellence on turf (which greatly increased her post-racing broodmare value). Competes exclusively on the west coast. And she only costs $110 a share? Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! Parameters two, three, and four were all checked off.
Having been part of the sport for a few years now, I appreciated how Mr. Behrens had designed this platform to appeal to anyone. The information is presented so that even the most novice of us can feel like a 50-year veteran of the backside. The backgrounds cover everything that a beginner would want to know, yet also give enough of an advanced perspective to intrigue a seasoned horseman. In essence, whether you’re Bob Baffert or Mrs. Magic, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting with each opportunity:
When I decided to pull the trigger, I quickly discovered that investing was as easy as everything else on the site. I was able to buy a share of a race horse from the MyRacehorse marketplace quicker than I could a phone charger from Amazon. In less than a minute, I was officially a 0.1% owner in Moonless Sky.
I later joked with friends that I woke up that morning and purchased a race horse before lunch, but it’s true. Look at how easy this is!
The Right Experience
As I said earlier, the date I found about (and invested in) Moonless Sky was May 16, 2018. Three days later, she was set to defend her title in the Fran’s Valentine, coincidentally on the same card that also featured Swiss Minister’s debut. Mr. Behrens & Co. organized a group event for all investors who could attend, and when Moonless Sky entered the saddling area, Brandon and I departed the press box and went to take a look. Judging from my reaction to seeing her for the first time, I think you could say that I was excited.
Right as Brandon took that photo, I’d turned to him and whisper-shouted, “That’s my horsey!!!” In an instant, all other horses– even Justify – were second-rate. I didn’t care that my investment was only 0.1%; to me, she was mine, and she was perfect. I don’t have any children yet, but I imagine that’s what it’s like being a proud parent.
Once trainer Eddie Truman saddled her, Brandon and I headed to the walking ring, where we met Mr. Behrens (black shirt, left) and several other investors. We all shared stories about our passion for the sport, and it was clear that we were all very, very excited about being new owners.
I watched closely as she circled us, examining every step that she took with intense focus. Soon, Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux hopped aboard, and she headed to the track:
I’ve walked from the ring to the track countless times; yet that day, I had to force myself not to run. Every second that she was out of my sight was hard to bear. Once our group found a spot to stand on the track apron, time stood still. 6 minutes to post? More like 6 hours. I suddenly felt like I was waiting on a race at Gulfstream.
She finally crossed over to the turf and entered the gate as the 5-2 favorite, and for the next 96 seconds, I don’t think I breathed once.
I’ll save you the lengthy recap and leave it as this: it was her first start in over four months, and it showed. She ran like she needed a race to knock off the rust while finishing a non-threatening eighth of nine. Once I realized that she wasn’t going to win, I just prayed that she returned safe and sound (she did), and even though she didn’t run her best, you couldn’t tell by the look on my face. My horse had just run very fast in a circle with other horses, and I was going to enjoy the adrenaline high for as long as I could.
Once the day’s races concluded, the MyRacehorse gang took a trip to the backside stables, where we were able to chat with Mr. Truman and see our lovely mare up close while she cooled off.
Thrilled with the day’s events, we all went home happy and already anxious for her next start, which would come in a months’ time. I hadn’t felt this impatient since the year I wanted a PlayStation 2 for Christmas.
Moonless Sky’s next start came June 21 at Santa Anita, which sucked for me because it was a Thursday and I have a normal Monday-Friday gig. Dismissed at odds of 15-1 as she broke from the 7 post, I watched from my office as she sat off of the early pace, then exploded in the stretch and began passing her foes. I did my best Kramer impression using a box of Kleenex as I called her home, and with 10 steps to go, I was screaming because she looked like a winner. Then some jerk named Lynne’s Legacy came from out of nowhere and passed Moonless Sky literally at the wire:
I won’t repeat the exact words I used, but let’s just say it’s a good thing my office is soundproof, because they weren’t exactly SFW. And the Kleenex box? Flat as a pancake. RIP, Kleenex box. You did good.
Yes, a win would have been perfect, but once I calmed down from the excitement, I was able to really appreciate how much better she looked; she’s back to her stakes-winning form. As she moves to Del Mar for the upcoming meet, I know that Brandon and I, and the rest of her MyRacehorse family, are in for a real treat.
The Right Rewards
You might be thinking, “All of this is good, but come on, Magic, tell us about the money!” Her second-place finish on June 21 was worth $16,380 in purse money. Once the applicable fees (trainer, jockey, etc.) were paid out, I wasn’t sure if there would be anything left for us 0.1%-ers. A notification from the app soon told me otherwise:
Not only have I paid just $110 for the thrill of a lifetime, now I’m sharing in the upside, too? This is the horse racing equivalent of having your cake and eating it, too.
Detractors might say that my special dividend payout of $5.90 is far from a fair return on my $110 investment, but I see it differently.
First off, that was from just one race. A race that my horse ran too good to lose. Lynne’s Legacy was awarded $49,140 for her win that day, so if the finish line had been 10 feet closer, then each share of Moonless Sky would have been paid $45.
Also, as long as she remains sound, it’s feasible that Moonless Sky still has several great races left in her, which means more chances for shareholders to make money. Yet if she never wins or even races again, she still has strong broodmare prospects. With a nice stakes win (along with four others) on her resume and over $275k in earnings, she could be worth at least $30 a share. That number, depending on her final selling price at auction, will only increase with each strong performance she gives. And once it’s all said and done, and Moonless is officially no longer mine, I’ll have two options: take my earnings and go home, or reinvest it in another horse. I think you know which way I’m leaning.
Listen, I know that the only guarantee in horse racing is that there are no guarantees, and that includes turning a profit. Yes, owning part of a race horse can be risky, but thanks to MyRacehorse, it’s been worth every penny. Trust me.