As far as marketing for a nascent, unorthodox racehorse ownership venture goes, you couldn't do much better than a horse carrying your silks into the Churchill Downs infield as the GI Kentucky Derby winner. That's what Michael Behrens experienced Saturday, as Authentic (Into Mischief), bought into by his MyRacehorse microshare partnership in June, fought off favored Tiz the Law (Constitution) past the Twin Spires to earn the garland of roses. Wednesday, Behrens joined the TDN Writers' Room podcast presented by Keeneland as the Green Group Guest of the Week to explain MyRacehorse's business model and how the startup came to own one-eighth of a Derby winner.
“I am not from the racing world, I've been in ad tech and marketing my whole career,” Behrens said of his background. “Growing up in Southern California, Santa Anita was 15 minutes away and that's where we went to decompress after crazy stressful weeks. Go out there with friends, have a couple of drinks and bet a few races. I just loved it as a sport, but was always very intrigued about how we can get more fan engagement. I started looking around and [found that] people who really were energized and excited about our sport were those that had some kind of interest in ownership, either through friends or a partnership, whatever it may be. And I just left that was where we could scale, where we could get mass adoption to appreciate the sport.”
MyRacehorse, which started as a pilot program in California, went national only last July. The company sells .001% microshares in Thoroughbreds with multiple shares available and returns that are deposited into owners' accounts and can be withdrawn via its app. Previously acquiring stakes in Grade I winner Street Band (Istan) and graded stakes winner Lazy Daisy (Paynter), MyRacehorse stepped into the deep end when buying 12.5% of Authentic after the colt finished second in the GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby. Behrens credits co-owner Spendthrift Farm's B. Wayne Hughes with opening the door to that partnership.
“When I wrote the original business plan for this, I looked at the industry to try to figure out who had the personality, the DNA [for the idea],” he said. “B. Wayne Hughes, with his success in business and his innovation with breeding, I just loved his disruptive nature. I actually used to do marketing for Public Storage, one of his companies. I came out and took [Spendthrift General Manager] Ned [Toffey] through the idea. The next day, Mr. Hughes called me back in and we started talking. He wants the sport to continue to thrive and grow, so he loved the concept. We started partnering on a couple of deals and that relationship has only gotten stronger and stronger over time. Now he's come in as one of our partners. Our relationship with Spendthrift and Mr. Hughes has been critical.”
Elsewhere on the show, the writers reacted to all angles of the Derby, GI Kentucky Oaks and the many impressive undercard and juvenile performances we saw this week. Plus, in the West Point Thoroughbreds news segment, they discuss the bankruptcy filing of Ahmed Zayat and wonder how it went south so quickly for the owner of the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. Click here to watch the podcast; click here for the audio-only version.