My pal Danny asked me when I was going to get back in the game of racing. I told him owning one horse was like adding on a house payment or a luxury car each month. He had no real clue as to the hidden costs. But after listening to me cry, he is now better informed.
I have had the pleasure of having two race horses in my life. The first was a very cheap claimer by the name of Bet Judge. A chestnut who had a the personality of a piece of wax fruit. But he was awfully pretty. We ran him three times, and I finally sold him at Beulah Park after he failed as the favorite. The next start he won at Mountaineer…
My next venture was a claimer that I followed for six months. He ran in claiming $4,000 events, and had won 4 times from 6 starts that year. His name was State Budget. I finally talked my partners into claiming him, and when the word got back to the barn from our big-mouth trainer they raised him up to $5,000 to get that extra $1,000 from our claim. Well, I cried until the guys agreed. They were tapped out the day when we went to claim him at Churchill Downs. I had borrowed money from everyone in the world. If I was going to claim, I was definitely going to bet… He won by 4 lengths with Eddie Razo in the saddle, and I won all of my money back. When they played my Old Kentucky Home at the conclusion of the card I had tears in my eyes and hope in my heart as we followed him back to the spit box.
We ran at Turfway, Churchill, Keeneland, River Downs, and Hoosier Park. There were winner’s circle pictures that had over 100 people. I made sure that everyone who wanted to be involved was a part of the day. I took many folks back to see him in his stall, and I always kept carrots and mints in my truck. He did us proud, and my first claim eventually had me sell parts of him to other friends. Owning a race horse is like having your professional team. They wear your colors, and there is no feeling in the world than to see them thundering down the lane.
If you have ever thought of jumping in the game make this a part of your bucket list as a racing fan. These are some of the fondest memories that a racing fan could ever have. As a word of advice. If you are getting in for the first time, be sure to have a large group to make the costs affordable. You can count on at least $50 a day for training / feed / care = $1,550 for 31 days. A trip to the farrier = $100. Race day can run up to $100 + depending on medication. It does add up, and if you have the team with the “lets have fun” attitude you cannot go wrong. Go ahead, get in the game. I’ll bet it will be the most fun you have ever had at the track.