Organized partnerships have brought countless new owners to the sport of horse racing and have resulted, most notably, in two Kentucky Derby winners, Animal House and Justify. High-profile syndicates receive considerable attention in the racing media, such as West Point Thoroughbreds’ purchase at auction in 2019 of a $2 million 2-year-old in training and a $1.5 million yearling.

At the opposite end of the partnership spectrum are two ventures for the masses, the Churchill Downs Racing Club, sponsored by the racetrack, and Empire Racing Club, sponsored by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association. Both are chartered as not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) social clubs (and are not a federal-tax deduction). In the case of Empire Racing Club, for instance, in keeping with its non-profit legal status, any excess funds (earnings) will be distributed to a non-profit aftercare organization.

The Churchill Downs Racing Club debuted in 2016 with two groups of 200 people each, with a participation fee of $500 per individual and no additional assessments for horse care and training. Of the $100,000 raised from each group, about $50,000 was set aside to purchase a 2-year-old horse with the other $50,000 budgeted for expenses. D. Wayne Lukas selected and trained Warrior’s Club for one of the groups and the horse became a Grade 3 stakes winner with $856,504 in career earnings. The Churchill Downs Racing Club is sold out for 2019 and there is a wait list for 2020.

The Empire Racing Club launched in 2019 with former NYRA announcer Tom Durkin as the manager with the goal of 200 members paying $500 each plus $500 annually for expenses. The partnership is to lease a filly from Spendthrift Farm and have her trained by Todd Pletcher.

Churchill Downs reported that 60 of 700 members of the Churchill Downs Racing Clubs subsequently became owners in regular partnerships that have profit potential.

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