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F.A.Q.

FAQs Thoroughbred Racehorse Ownership in Ontario

How much does a racehorse cost?

There are many options for buying a racehorse which will ultimately determine the cost. 

The main thing is to budget the amount you can spend on purchasing a horse as well as factoring in the amount it costs to care for and train your horse.

Some possibilities include a syndicate or partnership which would have an initial cost of $1000 – $10,000 and include multiple others involved in the ownership of the horse.

Or you may consider spending $5000 – $10,000 with two or more partners on an inexpensive horse.  Keeping in mind that the cost of care and training a racehorse is an additional $35,000 – $40,000 per year.

If you want to own a horse on your own or with one other partner you could be looking at costs of $50,000 – $100,000+ which includes the purchase, care and training for the duration of the horse’s career while in your ownership.

Will I make money owning a racehorse?

Thoroughbred racehorse ownership can be an exciting opportunity and many owners have enjoyed owning successful runners and have made a profit in the game. Along with the thrills and high emotions, ownership is also speculative and high risk.  Before owning a racehorse you have to understand that not all horses are destined for greatness and not all will live up to high expectations.  As an owner you have to be prepared for highs and lows both financial and emotional.

The best way to measure success as an owner is by becoming involved, learning all there is to know about the game while interacting with your horse and getting to know the people who work with and care for them. 

How do I buy a racehorse?

Before purchasing a racehorse it is advised that you first select a trainer who will be training the horse for you.  When choosing a trainer you will want to align yourself with someone who has a good team behind them and is a fit with the vision of what you hope to experience.  Some trainers specialize in developing young horses to race while other trainers have better success with claiming horses from races.

You should plan ahead and decide on the amount you have to spend on the purchase of your horse and be prepared to factor in the cost of care and training.  You may find that you should consider partners or joining a syndicate (see below – Types of Racehorse Ownership in Ontario).

Your trainer can then assist you with the selection and purchase of your horse and can also review the costs associated with your horse in training.  A trainer can provide guidance and answer many of your initial questions.

You can also buy a racehorse with the help of a bloodstock agent who can help you choose a horse from a sale or private purchase.  If you purchase a horse with an agent you will then need to choose a trainer to get the horse to the races.

Keep in mind, like any other profession, you are choosing professionals in their field and while you will want to learn and be involved you should allow them to do what you have hired them to do and trust their knowledge and expertise.

Types of Racehorse Ownership in Ontario

There are ownership options for just about everyone!

Racehorse ownership has evolved in recent decades and you will find that even with a limited budget there are options for enthusiasts to share the costs (and the fun) of the racehorse ownership experience.

Sole Ownership

This is where you own the horse(s) outright and you are responsible for all training and racing costs and will solely reap the benefits of any purse money and bonuses earned by your horse(s).  Decisions with your trainer will be solely made by you.

Co-Ownership/Partnerships

Co-owning and partnerships on a horse(s) with friends, family or colleagues.  With two or more registered owners to run in their own names or a partnership name.  The co-owners or partnership will need to determine the share percentage for each on the horse(s) and each will be responsible for that same percentage of costs as well as purse money and bonus distribution. 

Syndicates

Similar to Partnerships, Syndicates are generally run by a syndicate manager and the horse(s) races under the syndicate name and in the syndicate colours.  While the persons in the syndicate are treated as if they are co-owners, a syndicate agreement would determine initial and/or annual costs or fees, administration costs as well as purse and bonus payouts and rules of the syndicate.  The benefits of syndicates are that they allow you to enjoy the full ownership experience at a fixed cost.

Racing Clubs 

As a member of a racing club you can enjoy some of the benefits of racehorse ownership but without ownership right of the horse(s).  Your fee will include you in the excitement of horses running in the Club’s colours and will give you an opportunity to experience the social benefits at a fixed annual rate.

Company or Stable Ownership

A licensed company, farm or stable can own a horse(s) under the name of the business and can own horses outright or within a partnership or syndicate.  You can operate your horse ownership as a business and can claim expenses and losses through your business.

Leasing

Leasing a racehorse(s) from the horse(s) legal owner for a set period of time.  The lease can be for a one off race or a season or for the entire racing career.  This option offsets the initial cost of buying the horse.  Costs and purse earnings would be determined under the contract of the lease.  At the end of the term the ownership returns to the legal owner

Contact the HBPA of Ontario’s Ownership Specialist to provide a current list of available trainers, agents, syndicates/partnerships and boarding farms or stables.

How do I become licensed as an owner?

In Ontario, all individuals/businesses or stables with a 5% share or more in a racehorse must register as an owner online with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).  You must own a horse or a share in a horse before you can be licensed as an owner.  The cost of an owner license in Ontario is $100 per year and you will also have to file an Authorized Agent form ($100 fee) to allow your trainer to make training and entry decisions on your behalf.

How and when do I get my owner silks/colours?

As an owner you can design and create your racing silks which will be worn by the jockey riding your horse.  The design and colours must be approved by the race track before you have your silks made to ensure that they are not the same or too similar to other existing silks.  Your trainer will be able to provide you with a timeline as to when you should have your silks made to ensure that they are ready for your horse’s first race.

What can I expect when my horse is ready to race?

When your trainer has determined that your horse is ready to race, they will make an entry into a race where they feel your horse will be competitive.  The trainer will take into consideration the distance, the surface (turf, dirt or synthetic) and the level (Stakes, Allowance, Maiden, Claiming etc) and the purse or prize money being offered.  The trainer will also choose the jockey who will ride your horse.  Once the entry is made, the racetrack race office will determine if there are enough entries for that chosen race.  If the race has enough participants, the post positions are drawn and the races are scheduled for that day’s race card.

What can I do as an owner on race day?

At the racetrack, owners are permitted to join the trainer in the paddock while their horse is being saddled for the race and you can meet the jockey before they mount your horse.

You can cheer on your horse from the trackside apron or the grandstand seats and if your horse wins, you and your family and friends can have your picture taken with your horse in the winner’s enclosure.

What happens when my horse is injured or is retired from racing?

As an owner you should plan ahead for the eventuality of when your horse’s racing career has ended.  Given the life expectancy of 15 to 20 more years (after their racing career) and depending on the circumstances, your horse can be re-trained to go on to a second career as a show or riding horse or can be retired as a companion horse at a loving forever home.  If you are in a partnership or a syndicate this decision should be made in advance and ideally written into any contracts or agreements.

There are registered Thoroughbred Retirement agencies to help to ensure that your horse retires to a reputable facility.

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