How to Buy a Racehorse

Buying a Racehorse, tips so you don't end up cantering behind the others!


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    Decide if you have the knowledge to buy on your own or if you need help. If you know very little about buying racehorses, a bloodstock agent, who is paid a commission to buy and sell horses, will offer advice and recommend horses that meet your budget. Horse trainers may also offer important advice.
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    Factor in all the costs before you make a purchase. Expect to spend $25,000 to $30,000 annually to keep a horse in training. Costs include $35 to $100 per day for training expenses, $150 to $500 per month for vet charges, and $100 for monthly shoeing expenses. Don't forget the hay, straw, grain and other dietary supplements to keep your horse in tip-top racing condition.
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    Decide whether you want to own a racehorse outright, share an interest in one with a partnership, or invest in multiple horses through a syndicate. Many partnerships advertise in racing trade publications and host Web sites that list their horses and track records. Shop around; contact numerous syndicate managers and prospective partnerships before you invest.
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    Buy a racehorse in one of three ways: Through a claiming race, at auction or through a private purchase.
    • Claiming races literally have the horses running for sale. Price is set before the race, based on the quality of horse, cost ranging from $4,000-$12,000. Veterinarians cannot inspect the horses beforehand.
    • In auctions, horses are grouped by type: Yearlings, horses in training or brood mares. Each horse is listed in an auction catalog with a family tree, birth date and blood-type listing. Bloodstocks are allowed to view the horses at auction.
    • Private purchase is the easiest way to buy a horse. Horses are sold directly from stud at a negotiated price, and they can be inspected by a vet beforehand.
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    Hire a trainer. The best source for locating an experienced horse trainer is, sponsored by the United Thoroughbred Trainers of America Inc.
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    Obtain a racing license. Owners must have a license in order to participate in races. Each state has its own licensing applications, procedures and fees.
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    Register your Thoroughbred with the Jockey Club. A copy of the registration papers must be kept on file at the racetrack during the period that the horse is racing. These papers include the horse's name, pedigree and physical description.
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    Apply for colors with the Jockey Club. Brightly colored racing silks must be worn every time a jockey rides your horse; your pattern will become your trademark at the track.
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    Recoup your investment by finishing in the top five. Typically, the winning horse takes home 60 percent of the listed purse, 20 percent goes to second place, 12 percent to third, 6 percent to fourth and 2 percent to fifth place. A horse that performs consistently well will increase in claim value and can be worth millions as a breeder depending on its pedigree.


  • Thoroughbred refers to a breed of horses.


  • First-time buyers should consider a horse already in training (rather than a yearling), because it can race immediately.
  • The birth date is important for a yearling because all Thoroughbreds are given a January 1 birthday by racing authorities. A foal born near that date will therefore have a developmental jump on a horse born later in the year. That edge can be crucial when they begin racing as two-year-olds.
  • When you buy a racehorse at a claiming race or auction, be prepared to pay for, insure, transport and house the horse immediately after the race or at the auction's fall of hammer.
  • The average thoroughbred races about 12 times a year.

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Categories: Buying and Owning a Horse