In the win/loss column we’ve had better years. I would even venture to say that in comparison to the past two seasons it was downright abysmal. However, was the year abysmal or simply more typical of how difficult horse racing is?
In a fantastic blog post (http://businessofracing.blogspot.com/2008/07/economics-of-owning-race-horse-in-new.html) by my friend and proprietor of Castle Village Farm, Steve Zorn, he outlines the economics of racing in New York state. Though it’s from 2008, the basic tenants are sound. His conclusion:
The moral I take from it is that we’d all better be in this game for the thrills, the excitement, and the beauty of thoroughbreds, and be willing to pay a bit for the privilege of being associated with them. If we’re looking at race horse ownership to pay the rent, we’re in the wrong business. If we’re even hoping our horses will pay for themselves, we’re probably dreaming. Yes, that highly unusual, very good horse — the one we all hope to have every time we look at those two-year-olds in the Fasig-Tipton sales barns — will more than pay its own way. But most won’t — and we’ll all be in a better, more pleasant frame of mind if we can remember that.
2016 was a year like that for us; where we were reminded that: not all claims work out; that if a horse is too damaged to race anymore (see Ms Owell) that she deserves a safe landing; that winning is hard; and, hopefully, we were able to learn a little something and have some fun along the way.
It does seem like the fumbles and pitfalls we avoided over the past few years (bad claim, screwing up the entry at the end of the summer, injuries, rain outs, etc.) all piled up on us this season. The truth is, though, they DO happen – and more often than we’ve had to experience over the past few seasons.
In my opinion, aside from the win, the highlights of the summer were the backstretch tours. It is so much fun to show everyone what life is like back there, watch horses work, answer questions and see everyone that wants to be able to take some pictures with and feed their horses mints and carrots. If you’ve never been able to get on board for one, I hope you’ll be able to this summer.
We also tried out a “closing breakfast” near the end of the meet which was well attended and, I think, was enjoyed by everyone. I can certainly see us repeating that this summer and maybe even adding on a “kickoff” breakfast as well.
I feel like there were fewer questions this year than in past years but that is also bound to fluctuate with membership make-up. I hope that we were able to answer your questions and you were able to learn a bit more about racing and that we were able to de-mystify it a bit for you.
Right now I am closing out the year. We are waiting on December’s bills. We should be closed up by the end of this month and, while it certainly won’t be as much as in past years, there will be some money eligible to roll-over into the 2017 Club. We will post the roll-over form when the financials are completed.
There will also be a post later in the week for folks that wish to join us that were NOT members this past year. Most of the parameters will be the same (ie cost) but there will be some tweaks to try and ensure that we come into the season with a pair of horses (based upon the membership) ready to roll.
On behalf of everyone involved with the Club, thank you so much for your participation! We’re looking forward to 2017 and hope that you will join us again (or for the first time!).