Weathering the Storm: Shannon Potter

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Shannon Potter Keeneland 

While many questions regarding the Coronavirus pandemic remain unanswered, and with a stock market experiencing extreme volatility, there is continued uncertainty as to what could happen in our industry over the next few years. But many people in the industry have been through such ambiguity before. We sought the advice of industry leaders who successfully made their way through the Great Recession, and we asked what they learned from it and how they will use their experiences to advance through the coming years.

SHANNON POTTER, Town and Country Farms

Looking back on 2008, something I've learned and seen is the importance of managing your expenses and budgeting to keep your head above water. You need to work to maintain your employees and still race the horses at a level you would like to race at. It's important to take care of your affairs at home on the farm instead of trying to worry about the things you can't control.

During 2008, we did some different budget cuts trying to look at the overall picture. We didn't want to get our racing stable too big or our farm too loaded down. We're a commercial breeding operation, so we need to look at the bigger picture and make sure our mares and our people are taken care of. In our operation, we keep anything we really want, but everything else goes to the sale. That mentality has helped us, thinking 'Ok if we have to race that's alright if it's good long-term for the farm,' and not forcing ourselves to sell everything to make it overall. We love having a racing stable, but if we have to look at it, the mares pay the way. So we accept that the number of horses we keep will change from year to year.

We have an active process of selling from the bottom of our broodmare band and buying for the top. So we will continue to do that looking towards next breeding season. I'm hoping that some of these stud fees will go down. If you look back in 2008, they did come down. It seems like every time those stud fees hit that peak, they get high and then come back when they need to adjust. So our market has done a good job of maintaining itself. I think the limited book size will really help in the future. Overall, I think it's a good decision for our industry.

I think our main thing is that we desperately need a centralized head over the Thoroughbred business, just like the NFL and NBA. Not that Roger Goodell is the greatest, but we need a Roger Goodell because so many people are trying to do their own thing. If everyone, whether they're racing horses or breeding horses, had one centralized governing body to look towards, I think that would be a really good thing for our industry, especially during this time of uncertainty.

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