“His hooves pound the beat, your heart sings the song.” ~ Jerry Shulman
There is something magical about the Thoroughbred racehorse that has captivated people for 4oo years. It’s called the Sport of Kings, but almost anyone can get involved in the industry and experience the nervous excitement, feel the power of the racehorse, hear the drumming of hooves on the track and enjoy a victory celebration in the winner’s circle!
Thoroughbred racing is one of the most exciting sports that people can get involved in (not everyone can own an NHL team, but almost anyone can own a racehorse!), and we want to provide as much information as we can about owning a Thoroughbred racehorse. We encourage each and every new owner to learn as much about the racing industry as possible. Read industry publications and follow them on social media, attend the races, attend the yearling sale, contact the owners and breeders associations and get familiar with the industry.
Any person participating in horse racing in Alberta must be licensed by Horse Racing Alberta. Racing horses can be a very exciting sport, and viewed as entertainment for many owners, but it is very heavily regulated. In addition to HRA Rules Governing Racing, there are also Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency rules.
Goals and Objectives
What are your goals and objectives of owning a racehorse? Whether you want to have a small stable of just one horse, or a large stable with horses racing in different jurisdictions, you need to have an idea of the goals for your stable. Building your stable will require significant time and money, so get familiar with what you want to achieve!
- How much money do you want to allocate to your stable? Generally speaking, the level of investment is the primary consideration in determining the most appropriate means of becoming an owner. Determine the total amount of money that you are willing to allocate to this investment. Develop a budget, identifying the amount to be utilized for the initial purchase, and obtain realistic estimates of daily expenditures.
- How much time do you have to devote to your stable? How involved do you want to be? Do you have the time to talk with the trainer, or to visit the stable area, racing office or track kitchen on a daily basis?
- Do you prefer to have sole ownership or be part of a partnership or syndicate? Your degree of financial involvement, and the amount of time you have to spend on your horse activity combined with the level at which you wish to participate should guide you in answering this question. Basically you need to decide if you want to operate on your own or with others. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. While sole ownership allows you to have more control, have all the glory and keep all financial rewards, you also bear all of the risks associated with ownership.
- What are your goals? Do you want to win the Canadian Derby or just have some laughs with friends and cheer your horse home? Answering this question will help determine the level of investment of both time and money that you will need to be successful.
- What kind of equine investment should you make? Are you interested in purchasing yearlings and developing young stock? Do you prefer to own an older horse with a known race record? Do you want to purchase a filly or mare with the intent to one day raise a foal?
- At what level are you looking to participate? Everyone wants a classic winner. Unfortunately, not all horses have the ability to compete and win at the top level. There are many levels at which you, as an owner, can participate: claiming, allowance, and stakes. Your financial resources may ultimately dictate this. If you want lots of action, (horses racing often), your strategy may be different from someone seeking the classic horse. Remember, the thrill of ownership does not diminish with the level of horse you own.
- What type of tax treatment do you need for your racehorse ownership? Regardless of which form of ownership you choose, you should seriously consider structuring and treating your equine activities as a business because of certain tax and liability issues. Always consult with your tax advisor for the proper way to structure your equine business.
- What do you want to gain from your racehorse ownership? Horse knowledge, new friends, financial gain, and social activity can all be obtained through Thoroughbred ownership.
Take some time to think about your horse racing goals, and that will help you plan your stable.