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The Winner's Circle

Owning Thoroughbreds Is an Expensive Gamble Offering Great Rewards--and Costly Losses
John Lee
From the Print Edition:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Summer 96

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The minimum price for a share of an LSI Gold horse is $5,000. In a general partnership arrangement, Rovner retains a 10 percent share of each horse and divides the other 90 percent into 40 shares. LSI Gold Stable currently has 15 horses on track, primarily in the Belmont Park barn of trainer H. Morgan Tesher, and 130 owners.

"You buy a share, you're an owner. You get the same rights and privileges of any owner, even a big-time owner like George Steinbrenner," Rovner says. Those privileges include access to the barns, clubhouse and box seats, and, hopefully, posing with your horse in the winner's circle.

 

Not all partnerships are as formal as Dogwood, Centennial, LSI Gold and dozens of others. Friends in pursuit of a good time often form partnerships.

Gary Biszantz bought his first racehorse when he was 21, for $400. The horse turned into a winner and Biszantz was hooked. Today, the 61-year-old chairman of Cobra Golf Inc., manufacturer of King Cobra golf clubs, keeps enough horses in training that he can see them run 10 to 12 times a month. Biszantz recently purchased a Kentucky farm and has a legitimate Triple Crown candidate in multiple-stakes winner Cobra King. He still enjoys running his horses in partnerships.

"I have partners in every one of my horses. I get my friends involved; it's just more fun that way," Biszantz says. "It's like we're all partners in our own pro franchise. When we all go down to the winner's circle, it's the best thrill there is, and the wonderful thing is, it never changes. It doesn't matter if it's your first winner or your hundredth."

In spite of racing's emotional appeal, Biszantz cautions new owners to keep their minds on business. "You've got to establish your goals and you've got to have a business plan. Ask yourself if you can comfortably spend $20,000 a year to keep a horse in training," he says. "And I recommend that as you grow in the business, diversify. Have some claimers, some two-year-olds, some grass horses." (Claimers are horses that can be purchased, or "claimed," at a set price.)

With two trips to the Kentucky Derby winner's circle, Joe Cornacchia has been successful enough to strike out on his own, yet he, too, prefers partnerships. "In partnerships you can share the risks and own more horses for the same amount of money," he says. "With more horses you stand a better chance of getting one or two good ones."

For Glenye Cain, a partnership wasn't so much a way of spreading the risk as it was a way of getting in the game. Formerly a Dogwood Stable employee and now news editor for the Thoroughbred Times, Cain realized her dream of thoroughbred ownership by spending under $2,000 for 5 percent of a two-year-old named Trail Dust, who races in the colors of trainer Clint C. Goodrich.

"I didn't want to take a huge plunge with my life savings," she says. "At five percent my influence is limited, but I'm always asked for my opinion. And when I arrive at the barn in the morning, Clint will say, 'Bring out Glenye's horse.' I never think that someone else owns him. Even if you own just five percent, you're still a racehorse owner. That still carries a lot of weight. Take a friend out to the barn with you in the morning. He'll be impressed."


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