My Little PonyThe 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.
|A Prizewinner, Affirmed|
|The Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup|
The horse has since won five out of six races. In late April, it was Karlin's turn as a part-owner to travel expense-free with his wife to Hong Kong and watch Irridescence run the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at the Sha Tin racecourse. She took first-place in a nail-biting three-way finish for a $1.8-million purse. "Irridescence is probably one of the top fillies in the world now," says Karlin. "She's worth a fortune." A top filly in the industry is worth around $10 million: Team Valor bought Irridescence for $365,000. A winning colt commands anywhere from $15 million to $25 million. But for every success story in horseracing, there are many more flops. "If you're going into this thing as an investment, you're crazy," says Irwin. "If you're doing it with money that you're afraid to lose, this is the craziest thing in the world you could possibly do. I don't want impulse buyers. They never work out, and they're never happy. I want guys who have been thinking about doing this for a long time, and they finally make up their mind one day and decide to do it for fun."
And They're OffAfter a buyer does the research and finds the right horse with the right syndicate, it's off to the track. "Our owners can go visit their horse, feed it and watch it train in the morning," says Feld. "They get owner's passes to the track and free admission for the year -- there are a lot of perks like that which makes it fun." Of course, there's no guarantee that some new filly or colt won't fall prey to injury. Maybe they'll be valuable for breeding instead of racing. Then again, there's always a chance of catching lightning in a Kentucky bourbon bottle and winding up in the owner's box at Churchill Downs. Whatever happens, horse ownership can be a fine thing for someone who enjoys a day at the races, even if it means sharing the rewards with others. "No matter how small a part of a horse a guy owns, as far as he's concerned, that's his horse," says Irwin. "You can own 5% or you can own 50%. The experience of racing is the same."
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