Come Saturday, millions of viewers across America will be sitting down in front of their televisions to enjoy the thrills of the
, perhaps with a mint julep in one hand and a crumpled off-track betting ticket in the other. But there might be a more satisfying way to take part in the greatest two minutes in sports.
Fans tuning in for the horse race aren't only interested in the outcome of their wagers, or in watching those magnificent thoroughbreds galloping full-bore around the one-mile track at Churchill Downs. There's also a fascination with the owners -- those deep-pocketed speculators with a fortune on the line, inevitably captured on camera after the race in the rapture of victory or the agony of defeat.
While racehorse owners have long been viewed as an elite slice of society enjoying the so-called sport of kings, the recent growth of innovative investment pools in the sport has opened up a path to the owner's box for the rest of us.
My Little Pony
The proliferation of racehorse syndicates enables anyone to own a stake in a thoroughbred for as little as a few thousand dollars, as opposed to the tens of millions that are laid down for full ownership.
It's a form of incorporation that allows large, often disparate groups of people to buy small shares of ownership in a single horse and thereby lay claim to a chunk of its winnings and, ultimately, its value as a breeder or sale item.
Like investors who own stock in a company and depend on its management team to make the right decisions, those who buy into a horse syndicate need not be well versed in the esoteric world of thoroughbred selection, breeding and training.
The principal agents who run the syndicate will take care of the details in return for a piece of the action, allowing the owners to sit back and ride easy.
"[Syndicates] are generally regarded within the thoroughbred industry as a fantastic way for people to stick a toe in the water of horse ownership, learn a lot about it, and not get hurt too badly financially," says Glenye Cain, bloodstock business writer with the
Daily Racing Form
and author of "
The Home Run Horse: Inside America's Billion-Dollar Racehorse Industry
"It spreads the risk around so you don't go to an auction and spend $100,000 on one horse. If that horse has a problem and it never makes it to races, you never even had fun with it. You can go that route, but a lot of people love the flexibility and risk-management of these partnerships."
To view Nat Worden's video take of today's Good Life segment,