How To Buy A Thoroughbred Racehorse

Chestnut Thoroughbred HorseThroughout the history of horse racing, there have been numerous champions with multiple wins and staggering purses, impressive lineage, the ability to raise the spirits of a nation, and all the above. Thoroughbreds like Secretariat, Seabiscuit and Man O’ War have won the hearts of many–and pockets of some. Are you chomping at the bit to take part in this thrilling experience? While owning a racehorse is a very rewarding pursuit, there are some things you should know beforehand:

Do Your Research

So, you want to buy a racehorse. If you know very little about buying a racehorse, do your research. Start by consulting with a bloodstock agent. Their job is to buy and sell horses for a commission. Talk with one of these folks before deciding on which horse and breed to purchase. He or she can offer advice and recommend horses that meet your budget. You should also talk with various horse trainers. They can offer important advice as they spend a significant amount of time with the horses themselves.

Consider the Fees

While the payoff can be fantastic, racehorses can be a very expensive endeavor. Initially, plan on spending between $4,000 and $12,000 just to take the horse home. The real costs add up after you purchase the horse. Expect to spend $25,000 to $30,000 annually to keep the horse in training. Additional fees include $150 to $500 per month for vet charges, and shoeing typically runs you about $100 a month. Not to mention the hay, straw, grain and other dietary supplements you will need to keep the horse in tip-top racing condition.

Purchasing the Horse

Ready to buy? You can purchase a racehorse in one of three ways: through a claiming race, at an auction or through a private purchase. In a claiming race, the horses literally run for sale. At an auction however, horses are grouped by type (yearlings, horses in training or brood mares) and bloodstocks are allowed to view them. A private purchase is probably your best option, as horses are sold directly from stud at a negotiated price.

Decide On a Direction

Consider what is your goal is for the horse. Do you want it to race it locally? Or, do you see it competing in the Kentucky Derby? If your eventual goal is the Triple Crown, you are going to have your work cut out for you. Be ready to invest a lot of time and money, and you will need a good team to maintain your racehorse.

Choose Your All-Star Team

Think of your racehorse as a lucrative business. And like any successful business, you will need to hire a few professionals. Your all-star team should consist of a jokey, trainer and valuable partnerships. A jockey can make a big difference when it comes to the intangibles. Next, you’re going to want to hire a horse trainer. The best source for locating an experienced trainer is on Lastly, you have to consider if this is an investment you can make by yourself. Because the horse racing is a tight-knit community, you have the opportunity to share interest with a partnership, or invest in multiple horses through a syndicate.

Obtain a License

Your next step would be to obtain a racing license. Owners must have this in order to participate in races. Each state has its own laws regarding licensing applications, procedures and fees. All you have left to do is pick your racing colors. These hues will be worn by the jockey and will be distinguish your horse from the others on the track.

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Karen Smith is a freelance writer and avid horseplayer. Karen loves attending the Kentucky Derby annually with her husband, Richard. In her free time, she enjoys horse racing betting. Her favorite racehorse is Rags to Riches, who became the first filly to win the Belmont Stakes in over 100 years.

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