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How to Purchase a Racehorse

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Name Your Price
Thoroughbreds aren’t cheap, so unless you spend your summers at the Kennedy compound in Cape Cod, you’ll probably need track-savvy buddies to split your horse’s cost and upkeep. “About 10 guys throwing in $5,000 each can get you a decent $25,000 horse and cover a year’s worth of training, stabling, and feed,” says Daniel Metzger, president of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association.

Shop Around
You can buy an untrained animal straight from the farm, pick up a hot prospect at a “purchasing event” (a race in which a horse can be bought for a pre-determined amount), or hit a public auction and let the market dictate a fair price. In any case, hire a trainer beforehand at your local racetrack—that or risk a premature trip to the dog food factory.

Cover Your Assets
To guarantee you’re not the one who ends up sleeping in a barn, Metzger advises setting up an LLC (limited liability company) to separate your racing business from your personal assets. And be sure to elect your most responsible buddy “managing partner” so unpaid oats bills don’t get in the way of swilling bourbon in the winner’s circle, you cheap bastard.

Ride It to the Bank
The possibility of losing your shirt is real, but chances are you’ll recoup your investment through track winnings over the first year or two. And if you discover the next Secretariat, an early retirement could lead to millions in stud fees. “With a good racehorse, the real payoff is the breeding shed,” says Metzger. “That’s where the real money’s at.”