Partnerships: In Front Racing Stables Personifies Integrity Through Partnerships

In Front Racing Stables at Gulfstream Park Howie Heiberger


In Yiddish, a mensch is a person who personifies integrity, morality, dignity and a sense of what is right and responsible. But mensch is more than just an old Yiddish adage, it is a word that best describes the managing partner of In Front Racing Stables, Howie Heiberger.

Heiberger was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and that meant having Aqueduct as a beacon of fun and excitement just a few miles away. As a teenager in the late 70s, he and his friends would put forward the $1 it cost to take the Express Bus east to Queens to take in an afternoon at the races. The gang of wide-eyed neophyte gamblers would pool their money in the hope of making a score just like their seasoned counterparts. However, more often than not, Heiberger and his young Brooklynites would end up having to take the subway home, which only cost 35 cents since the bus fare was long gone.

Heiberger has spent the last 20 years building a successful catering and event center business in Freehold, New Jersey. The success of his Aurum Events and Exquisite Caterers now means he doesn't need to take the bus any more, but the memories of Aqueduct have never left. Always a casual horseplayer, Heiberger decided to dip his toe into the ownership game and began buying into partnerships about 10 years ago. Owning 3% to 5% of different horses made it clear to him that you did not have to own the whole horse to enjoy the total experience. That revelation inspired him to start In Front Racing Stables in June 2021.

Howie Heiberger | Howie Heiberger

Within weeks of getting the stable set up, Heiberger, some family and a few close friends dropped a claim slip on a 4-year-old mare named Tenderness (Medal Count). The $20,000 claimer would be the start of a long eight months of frustration for the new partnership group. In Front Racing Stables had 14 starts and waited eight months before they finally visited the winner's circle with one of their horses. Not everything was dark clouds for the new stable though, prior to their first win they were able to hit the board with their horses 50% of the time, so money was coming in and the bills were getting paid. With exactly 100 starts, as of the writing of this article, you can now find 15 winning photos on the wall and the group sporting an in-the-money strike rate of 46%. The success of the stable is a team effort. In Front Racing Stables currently employees the services of trainers Linda Rice, Jose DeAngelo and John Toscano to train and race their horses.

Heiberger also works with Larry Kaufman who is on the ground at the NYRA tracks to find the right horses to claim and add to their stable. Claiming is the name of the game with In Front and it has become their bread and butter.

In Front Racing Stable offers a unique proposition to its current and future partners: No bills. Once a partner decides to invest in a racehorse, there are no cash calls for training, vet work, transportation, etc. The ability to offer partners this unique opportunity is achieved through a formula that gives trainers 60% of the In Front horse's net purses earned and the partners 35%. Heiberger retains 5% of the net purses to cover the costs of running the operation. As the general partner, Heiberger also marks up all claims 15%. “Our partners really like the model we have established because they know what they want to invest and that is it,” he said. “No cash calls or bills. I have been in business a long time and you have to believe in the product that you are selling. I believe in this model.”

So do his partners, who now exceed 75 participants. Active partners number around 45 and 25 partners are in on almost every horse claimed. Most are from the East Coast, but In Front has partners that live in Arkansas, Oklahoma and as far away as Arizona. “We primarily race in New York and Florida, but I have the Oaklawn Park condition book in my hands now, so we may be expanding west,” he added.

In Front Racing Stable | Howie Heiberger

In Front partner Michele Farina had the same experience of sneaking off to the track while still in school. “We talked about experiences having grown up around the game and had things in common,” said Farina. “Besides being such a nice man, I respect how he has established and grown the stable. Also, meeting the other partners has been great and we basically all hang out together when we're at the track whether we're running a horse or not and that is what I really enjoy.”

One of those other partners Farina referred is Joey Zayas. “Howie ensures you are part of everything, from your thoughts on the horses they select as a possible claim to the race selections when that flexibility arises. I started with MyRacehorse, and even though they provide a great experience for the new, perhaps inexperienced horse owners, you are not that engaged with the day-to-day operations like In Front.”

In Front partner Steven Rapoport also has had experience with other partnerships. “I was a member of Karakorum Farms, Drawing Away Stables and Top Hat Thoroughbreds in the past,” he said.

“We have a group of 60 or so partners here who can look at claims. evaluate horses and try to make intelligent claims. The no-bills aspect makes it affordable.”

Heiberger is appreciative of the owner perks NYRA offers and one of the reasons he strongly recommends partners own at least five percent or more, so they can get licensed. “When you are a New York licensed owner, you get free admission for yourself and immediate family, free programs and owner's parking,” he said. “They even have an owner's lounge area. These things bring value to horse ownership.”

Teaching novices about ownership, introducing them to trainers, jockeys and others in the game is what drives Heiberger to grow In Front Racing Stables. “I want to give our partners a great experience just like with my businesses,” he said. “I also want them to learn, and interact with all aspects of the game, and most of all I want them to have a shot at making some money.”

This may seem like a lot to offer to small percentage owners, but that is simply what a mensch, like Howie Heiberger, does.

Joe Scurto is the principal at Horseshoe Marketing. His Twitter is @RacingHorseshoe.

Editor's Note: Partnerships, presented by Taylor Made Partnerships, is a new TDN feature which explores different partnership groups at different investment levels across the country. Each month, we will choose a different group to profile.

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