Five Steps to Ownership
We have broken this information down into five main steps; but there is a volume of information to absorb and accomplish within each step. Take some time to read through this page, as well as the FAQ page that are specific to this topic of being new to horse ownership and horse racing.
The first step to success in Arabian racing is education.
Learn as much as you can about the sport.
The AJC Web site can provide you with a wealth of knowledge. Read every section and visit it often. Read books and articles on the subject and the breed in general. Arabian racing magazines are an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the industry, its current events and blood lines. Visit related Internet Web links. Thoroughbred racing resources are often a good source of information since training an Arabian racehorse is similar in many ways. Seminars are another educational resource to take advantage of and are often announced in Arabian publications.
You will need to gather information about the track and the state where you would like to race. An Arabian Jockey Club affiliated racing association is the perfect place to begin. These organizations manage Arabian racing meets within their state and can supply you with specific details about racing in that area. You will also want to contact the track racing secretary to obtain a “condition book.” This book describes the qualifications, distances and dates of future races so that owners and trainers can plan which races to enter their horses. Finally, contact the state racing commission for its rules and regulations. Not only will this information supply you with details on licensing and racing requirements for your horse, but it is also a good reference tool to have.
Because experience is the best teacher, go to a track where Arabians race and seek others who are participating in the sport. Most Arabian owners are eager to help someone who wants to get involved. Finding a mentor who you trust and respect can be very beneficial as you start out.
After the education comes the horse. But before making this investment, use what you’ve learned and ask yourself if racing is indeed for you. It is critical that you feel confident in your decision and can make a long-term commitment to your horse and to the sport of Arabian racing. If the answer is yes, then you are ready to begin your search for a racehorse.
Begin by reading or visiting industry websites and trade publications. Much of this information is available on www.arabianracing.org. In addition, individual farms, state racing commissions and tracks have valuable information.
Attend the races. Attend the sales. Join your local racing organization. Observe owners, trainers, consignors, buyers, veterinarians, and other professionals in action. Ask for their help and suggestions.
Contact the owner and breeder organizations in your state. Inquire about services offered and membership benefits. Become involved with the organizations and make personal contact with local horsemen. Participate in a racing partnership.
Inquire of owners, trainers, and other industry insiders if you may speak with them regarding how you might get involved in the business. You will be pleasantly surprised at the number of insiders who are willing to assist those seriously considering investing in the industry, regardless of the level of investment.
Locate a consultant or more experienced owner who is willing to serve as a mentor. Be discriminating, and in the case of professional consultants, check references. Remember that the objective here is to identify someone you can trust. Listen to the advice given, but don’t feel obligated to follow it, as ultimately every decision you make should be your own.
Participate in industry-sponsored events and educational programs.
A horse you already own
There are several options to explore when acquiring a purebred Arabian racehorse. The first, and perhaps the simplest option, is an Arabian that you already own. Many racehorses have been plucked from the show ring or from backyard obscurity and have gone on to perform well on the track. If you feel that your horse has potential as a race horse, your best bet is to consult several experts for their opinions.
Breed your own racehorse
By doing this you can select the specific blood lines you want and you raise the horse yourself. However, breeding and raising your own race horse takes a tremendous amount of time, money, and commitment. From the time you breed the mare until the horse is old enough to race, you have already spent four years, and a lot can happen in that time.
The majority of Arabian racehorses are purchased through private treaty. This involves a purchase that you make with a bloodstock agent, trainer or a friend. One way to find horses offered for sale is to look at advertisements in Arabian racing magazines. Horses for sale in these publications will vary by age, ability, price and other qualities.
If you are not quite ready to commit to sole ownership of a horse, leasing provides a measured commitment. Here you pay all of the expenses, but you also reap all of the rewards. You do not officially own the horse, so the commitment is less.
Another great way to get involved is through a partnership with an experienced owner. Common with Thoroughbreds, Arabian race horse partnerships are also becoming more popular. This way, you can get your feet wet by sharing expenses and earnings, learn about the business, and still have the thrill of victory. Your involvement can be minimal or quite active.
Many racehorses today are bought and sold through auctions. The company that conducts the auction provides a marketing venue for the seller and the buyer. Always prepare yourself for the sale by obtaining a catalog prior to the event to learn how to read its pages and to find out which horses are being offered for sale. Once you decide on the horses that you are interested in, attend the open barn periods to inspect those horses. Veterinary assistance is offered on location at the buyer’s expense. Different types of horses are usually consigned at these sales ranging from horses currently racing, ones who are race-ready, 2-year olds and breeding stock.
If you are looking for a horse that is already racing, one of your options is to acquire it through a claiming race. Horses entered into this type of race can be purchased at a price stated in the race conditions. However, as the buyer, you must meet stringent requirements in order to make a claim. Consult the State Racing Commission regarding rules of claiming a racehorse. You will want to prepare yourself by knowing as much about this horse as possible before purchasing it. After filing a claim, that horse is yours as soon as it leaves the starting gate. Any purse money won in that race goes to the former owner.
As with any of the options listed here, you will need to do additional research before setting upon a course of action. The same advice applies once you have narrowed your search. Racing reports are valuable tools that can be used to verify a horse’s race record, its blood lines and more. These reports, which are available from the AJC, can help you make educated and informed choices. Also, get opinions from trusted advisors, including one from a veterinarian, before making your buying decision.
Before you sign on the dotted line, there are a few factors to take into account. For instance, an Arabian horse cannot race until it reaches its 3-year-old year. This rule makes for a mature, sound horse who is less likely to get hurt. If you are thinking of buying an older horse who has not raced before, be sure to consult the state racing commission for any rules that might limit the maximum age that a horse can begin racing.
Do not buy a horse until you have contacted the Arabian Horse Association (AHA) Registry to make sure that it is a registered purebred and to find out if it has been parentage qualified to its sire and dam. This is a very important step. In order for an Arabian horse to race, it must have a Certificate of Registration for Racing and to receive one, a horse must be blood typed and qualified to its parents. This document is used to verify each Arabian entered in a race at the track. If a horse does not meet the qualifications set forth by the AHA Registry, it will not be issued this document and cannot race. After buying your horse, you will need to contact the AHA Registry again to transfer the ownership records to your name.
Before your horse can race, there are a few more details to take care of. As mentioned, your horse needs a Certificate of Registration for Racing from the AHA Registry. Once the AHA Registry receives all of the required paperwork, plan at least one week for this process to be completed.
After the Certificate of Registration has been issued, that horse must be tattooed. The last six digits of the horse’s registration number are applied to the inside of its upper lip with official dyes by an agent of the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. This tattoo is verified before each race. The track racing office can locate a TRPB agent to perform this task.
You personally won’t need to be tattooed, but you will need a license. As an owner, you must be licensed by the state you are racing in. The state racing commission or the track racing office can provide you with the required rules and regulations and can tell you how much time to plan for.
Now for the creative aspect of ownership. It’s time to design and register you racing colors, or silks, with the racetrack. Most tracks offer to supply owners with silks for the jockeys to wear during the race, but you can also have your own made. The purpose of these lightweight, colorful garments is to make it easier to identify horses during a race. Check with the racing office for any requirements prior to purchasing them. Racing magazines advertise companies that sell racing silks.
A racehorse trainer is the person who will care for your horse while he prepares it for racing. A trainer will also design your horse’s training program and its career game plan. As with many professions, a trainer must pass a written exam to earn his license. This may be renewed periodically.
The relationship between an owner and a trainer is one of the most important in racing and can be the most difficult as well. As you search for a trainer, keep in mind that what you are doing is looking for someone to manage your racing business. You should interview this person as you would any other employee that you are considering hiring.
Before making your selection of a trainer, find out:
- How close are your racing philosophies?
- Does this person have the background that you want to run your business?
- Have you discussed a contract?
- Have you checked their references?
- Does this person communicate satisfactorily with other owners?
- Are they training where you want to race?
Once you have selected a trainer, communication is the key to a successful relationship, but be considerate. Your trainer probably gets up at 4 a.m. to be at the track for morning workouts. Find the best time to call or have him call you. You have just hired a professional, so take advantage of your good choice and let this person advise you and make the appropriate decisions. Learn from their experience.
As you progress, remember, you pay the bills, so you are entitled to know what is happening in your business. Develop a mutual respect for each other and, above all else, enjoy your involvement in Arabian racing!
The Training Process
The process of turning a horse into a racehorse is an investment of time and a trial of patience.
Most 2-year-old horses will begin race training in the Fall. At this time, your horse will be transported to a training center or farm where it will learn to use equipment and be taught the basic communication skills of racing. Once it is able to be ridden, it will begin walking, trotting and working up to a slow gallop. This 30- to 60-day process builds its physical condition and lays a solid foundation for a healthy horse.
After several more months of conditioning, gradually increasing its speed and distance and gaining the confidence of your trainer, your horse will go to the racetrack. There it will learn about the starting gate and being around other horses. With enough workouts under its belt and track approval to use the starting gate, your horse is ready to be put to the test. It’s time for its first race!
The training process outlined here and the length of time that it takes will vary from trainer-to-trainer and from horse-to-horse. As mentioned earlier, turning a horse into a racehorse takes time and patience. Be prepared, financially as well as emotionally, to invest about six months in your horse before you know if it can make the grade as a racehorse. Even so, your trainer should have an idea of your horse’s ability within about 90 days.
The First Race
Several weeks after consulting the track condition book, selecting the appropriate race for your horse and training it to its conditions, your trainer will enter the horse in a race. This takes place with the track racing secretary about 24 to 48 hours before the race.
On race day, each trainer’s routine will vary depending on their training style, however, each track has a series of events that every horse must go through prior to a race. About an hour before post time, the horses entered in a particular race must be identified and checked by a veterinarian. The track identifier will verify the horse’s lip tattoo against its Racing Certificate to make certain that the right horse is running and the veterinarian will make sure that each one is fit to race. If deemed unfit, a horse will not be allowed to run, or scratched from the race.
The next stop is the saddling paddock. Here the horses are saddled for the race, bettors make their final decisions while looking over the field and trainers, jockeys and owners discuss last minute strategies. Then the horses move onto the track for the post parade. One by one, they are loaded into the starting gate. The gate doors fly open, the track announcer roars “…and they’re off!”
If your horse is the first to cross the finish line, a trip to the winner’s circle is in order. This is where you, your family and friends and the race winner will go to share in the excitement and have the win photo taken. After the photo, the winning horses and others from that race field are chosen at random to go to the receiving barn to give samples for urine and blood tests. If prohibited or unacceptable levels of drugs are found, any horse will be disqualified from that race.
Your horse’s first race will become one of those moments in life that you never forget. Many owners become “infected” with racing the first time they watch their horse thunder toward the finish line. The exhilaration, the pageantry and the pride of owning an Arabian racehorse gets under your skin and becomes a part of your life.