I have some thoughts on why fewer people want to own racehorses and why existing owners are shrinking their operations or getting out altogether.
I breed to race about 15-20 mares in California, Kentucky and New Mexico. I buy 5-10 yearlings each year. I run in about 200 races per year, winning about 20% with 50% in the money. I have licenses in at least 10 states each year. I hire respected and successful trainers. I lose money on my racing operation. Lots of it. In years when I sell a mare at the conclusion of her career, I might break even or show a small profit. Last November I sold MSW and Grade 2 winner Vertical Oak for $700,000. She is in foal to Into Mischief.
Horse owners invest the most and lose the most. Consistently. Owners leave the racing business. Who else does? Multiple sources have put it very simply–purses are about $1 billion per year in the U.S. and in the aggregate owners’ expenses are about $2 billion per year. Any questions? Mr. Gary Falter’s letter to the editor failed to mention the only possible remedy for attracting more owners. Many politicians have said “it’s the economy, stupid.” For us in racing change that to “it’s the purses, stupid.” When a business or sport (horse racing) model has expenses that are about double potential income (purses) we are in deep trouble. There is no solution to what ails this ownership issue except much, much higher purses at all levels and at all tracks. The numbers don’t lie.
El Paso, TX