Q. How much will it cost to become a Bliss Racing Stable partner?
A. That depends – not a good answer, but it's accurate. Each horse has a purchase price and typically there will be a "buy in" fee and then an annual fee based on annual costs for upkeep of the horse. In 2013, we calculated the average annual upkeep fee for our race horses at $60,000 or $250/month for each 5% owned.
All horses will not cost the same to purchase, so the amount of the buy-in varies. The purchase price of a horse will be broken down into 5% increments, so the initial buy-in on a $100,000 purchase would be $5,000. In this example, $5,000 per 5% purchased would be the up-front cost (typically due upon signing a contract for the horse) and then $3,000/year for each 5% purchased would be your annual rate with a minimum commitment of 2 years required. If the horse costs less, the buy-in is less, though the carrying cost – annual upkeep -- fee does not change. In this example, you would add $5,000 buy-in plus $6,000 ($3,000 per year for each of two years) to arrive at $11,000 total obligation for 5% of a race horse.
So, if you choose to purchase 5% of a horse, it will be $3,000 for each of the two years you would commit to and then there is a variable one-time buy-in fee for each horse based on the horse's purchase price. Please check with the managing partner for specific quotes on the horse(s) you are interested in getting in on.
Q. Now that I've purchased a share in a racehorse what do I need to do?
A. First, SMILE. You are a horse owner!!
Once you have agreed to purchase part of horse through Bliss Racing stable, you will receive two copies of a STATEMENT of SALE which outlines the amount of your purchase and your commitment. Sign both copies, keep one and return the other with your tax ID to Bliss Stables along with the buy-in fee for the horse. The upkeep fee (currently $250/mo. for each 5% purchased) can be paid annually or quarterly and is due beginning January 1 of the first year of the partnership.
Q. Will I need to work with the trainer, select a jockey, pick which races to run in, etc.?
A. As a partner in Bliss Racing Stable, you will not be responsible for communicating with the trainer. It is the trainer's job to get the horse ready for a race and then select the best place for the horse to run, when she will run, and who the jockey will be for the race. While owner input is welcome, your ideas and suggestions are funneled through the managing partner who will convey them to the trainer. The Bliss philosophy is that we are paying the trainer a good deal of money for their expertise and we largely follow their recommendations regarding the condition of the horse, its placement in races, and jockey selection. That said, Bliss Stable only selects trainers who will welcome partners who would like to stop by the stable and visit their horse at appropriate times.
Q. When can I see my horse?
A. When our horses are at a training center – the place where as yearlings and young 2 year olds they learn what they need to be race horses – Bliss partners have made arrangements to visit on their journey south. We have used training centers in MD, SC, and FL, all of which have allowed a visitor at an acceptable time.
When the horses are on the race track, you can go to watch the horse work out or perform its daily exercise by checking with the managing partner to find out what time the horse will be on the track. Also, you can visit the horse in the stall at hours acceptable to the trainer – usually after morning workouts and earlier than the evening feeding. This will vary depending on the day, so please check with the managing partner to arrange a visit to the stall to see your horse – this is a lot of fun and an experience all owners should enjoy at some point.
Q. How will I know what is going on with my horse?
A. The better information you have, the more enjoyable your ownership experience will be. Therefore you will receive information primarily through updates on the Web site and group e-mails, but the managing partner is also available whenever you have questions or would like to talk about your horse – if you don't get to him right away, he will get back to you as soon as he can. You should fully understand what's going on with your horse.
Q. What's the process with the horse – how does she get to the track and ready to race?
A. If you think of race horses as athletes, you'll understand all the training and preparation that goes into getting a horse to the starting gate for her first race. Typically yearlings will be "broken" – trained to go under saddle and how to move for a rider – at the end of the year with hopes that they will progress enough to begin training and then racing as a 2 year old. Some horses are not mature enough or are injured and do not make it to the races at two or even at all – this is one of the many risks involved in thoroughbred racing. There are many specialized training centers – usually located in warmer climates given the timing of getting horses ready for racing in the Spring of their 2 year old year – where thoroughbreds are prepared for racing. Typically the earliest 2 year old races occur over 4 – 4 ½ furlongs in April and May, with 5 and 5 ½ furlong races taking place in May, June and July, and 6 furlong races beginning in June and July – as the year progresses, the length of the races facing a 2 year old will get longer.
Once a horse gets through the training center, they then will be sent to a trainer – this is a horse expert on track who will manage the horse's preparation and gauge the quality of the horse to help owners understand where to place the horse. If you have a horse inclined to run on turf, the season in NY will end by late October/early November and begin in April of the following year – this means you would either send the horse to be rested over the winter and bring them back in the Spring or try to run her in a Southern climate. For NY Bred horses running outside NY is not always a good option – the purses for NY breds are larger than outside the State and running against open company is usually more challenging than facing competition in races restricted to State-breds.
Bliss Racing Stable will work with a training center and then get the horse to our trainer by April or May of their 2 year old year. Should a break be needed from racing at some point in the horse's career, we select a training center suitable for the horse based on the trainer's recommendation and the horse's needs. The goal is to get the horse to the track to compete at 2 and then as a 3 year old, 4 year old, and beyond if the horse is so suited.
Q. How many years will a horse race?
A. That depends on many factors but our goal is to race our horses for as long as we can – we have had much luck getting 3 and 4 racing seasons out of our horses by placing them in good spots and not pushing them when rest was needed. Each horse will withstand a different training plan and regimen.
Q. How do I get registered as an owner and what special treatment do I get at the race track?
A. Each owner of the horse will be sent information by the managing partner regarding the process of owner licensing. The first step is to obtain a NYS Gaming Commission (formerly the NYS Racing & Wagering Board) license. Once you have that license, you will need to obtain NYRA credentials – there is no fee for this credential, but you must be licensed by NYS Gaming Commission to get their card. The managing partner will work with each partner to ensure they are comfortable with the licensing process and then obtain the NYRA credential – the only ID you need on track is the NYRA card. Once you have your NYS Gaming Commission license, you can file it away and renew as needed – by mail. The NYRA credential is what allows you access to various horsemen areas at the track – the backstretch and barns and the saddling ring prior to your horse's race. NYRA will also issue parking stickers for special horsemen's parking – again, the managing partner will assist you on the details of obtaining that sticker as well.
Q. Will I meet the other partners in my horse?
A. A great opportunity to meet in person will be on race day but there also is an annual event (or mostly annual – we did miss a couple years) held for Bliss partners. Our hope is that all investors will attend the annual party celebrating the Bliss horses. Typically held in the summer to coincide with the NY Bred Fasig-Tipton sale at Saratoga, specific information about the party's date will be sent out in the Spring of each year.
Q. How are decisions made about the horse?
A. Although the ultimate decisions are made by the Managing Partner, when a key decision is to be made about the horse's future, all investors will be polled for their input. Decisions are typically made by a majority vote for other than day-to-day decisions.
Q. Will I make money?
A. The goal is for our partners to make money. However, all investors much realize that horse racing is a risky proposition and their return on investment is first going to be the horsemen's access at the track, the enjoyment of seeing your horse in person, receiving updates and news about your horse. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MONEY??!!?!? OK, I am getting to that . . .
A horse typically needs to win 2 races to cover the costs of training for a year – so if the horse wins twice, you will likely recoup your investment. If the horse does better than that, you should make money. In addition if the horse is claimed (bought by someone in a race where all the horses are for sale) or purchased privately, you will receive your share from the sale (based on your corresponding percentage owned). All winnings or funds from the sale of a horse for that year will be dispersed prior to the end of the calendar year.
Q. So how much are we talking about?
A. Should a horse perform well in the NY Bred races, then the purse structure is such that winning a $70,000 maiden race will result in approximately $42,000 going to the winner. Out of that, NYRA takes a number of fees, the jockey gets his percentage and the trainer takes his/her 10%, with a net to Bliss Racing Stable of approximately $34,000. 5% would be approximately $1,700 – the example used here can be scaled based on the purse for the race we are entered in.
Q. What do I do on race days?
A. On racing days, Bliss Racing Stable members will be provided access to the saddling area and we will try to make seating arrangements ahead of time for all investors who would like them – unfortunately seating is not possible for most days at Saratoga. Typically, Bliss Stable partners will meet with a managing member and the trainer in the paddock and the group will enjoy the race, and with luck, celebrate in the winner's circle.
Q. What happens if our horse wins?
A. You need to celebrate!! That is, after all, our goal – for our horses to win and for you to see what it's like to win at the races. If you are on track, you will need to go directly to the winner's circle to have your photo taken with your fellow owners and the horse – each owner will receive a winner's circle photograph to commemorate what I assure you will be a most memorable occasion. There is nothing more exciting than seeing your horse win and once you experience that on track, you will be hooked for life.
Q. Where do I find out about my horse's lineage? Does it matter?
A. Thoroughbreds are often described as a "Seattle Slew (or other stallion name) filly" or "out of a stakes winning mare." The importance placed on the breeding is tied to the genetic code passed from generation to generation that will impart endurance, speed, coat color, etc. Horse people often attribute much of the traits of a horse to its sire, when in fact horses get 50% of their genes from their dam (mother) as well. So, yes, lineage matters and is a fair predictor of racing aptitude, though there are many exceptions to every rule and each horse needs to be evaluated on its individual physical merits. There are many ways to find out about horse racing lineage, but start with The Blood Horse magazine and their online stallion register and then ask the managing partner any questions you may have.
Q. How are names selected for race horses?
A. The Jockey Club has very specific rules (not more than 18 letters, no vulgar or suggestive names, no famous horse names, numbers aren't allowed, etc.) on naming a race horse and they must approve the name. The process is that the owner submits a name, but usually multiple names in order of preference, and then the Jockey Club will approve one name. Naming can be a lot of fun, and for Bliss horses we solicit input from all partners and then reach agreement – we've done this over cocktails in one session, over a period of days via calls and e-mail to include partners not located in the same area, and usually we end up with something that everyone supports. We will hold a naming event of some kind once the partners have been finalized. Bliss Stable will submit the owners' list of names in order to the Jockey Club prior to February 1 of the horse's 2 year old year.
Q. Are there any hidden fees or additional expenses?
A. The answer is NO, but there is an exception. Each owner will be responsible for the fees associated with obtaining a racing license – approximately $200 in the first year and then $50/year thereafter.
One of the many advantages of entering into a partnership with Bliss Breeding & Racing is that you will not be bothered with monthly bills for training, board, transportation, veterinary care, blacksmith, legal fees, state and local taxes, commissions, name registration fees, and numerous miscellaneous expenses. Bliss Breeding & Racing Stable LLC will be responsible for all the day-to-day administrative details associated with managing your horse.
Q. Will my investment be tax deductible?
A. The IRS defines racing investments and partnerships similar to the standards set for other industries and professions. Members will receive a Form K-1 within 60-90 days (our goal is by no later than March 15) of the end of the calendar year to enable completion of their tax return. Each LLC member is strongly encouraged to consult with their personal tax advisor and/or employ the services of a professional equine tax accountant to answer tax matters as they relate to participation in a thoroughbred racing LLC.