Archives for October 2022


As we approach the 39th running of the Breeders’ Cup, I retrieved my copy of the program from the first edition in 1984 and looked through it.  The very thin front cover of the program had the word Inaugural printed in black fifteen times from top to bottom with the only lettering being Breeders’ Cup in gold and Hollywood Park, November 10, 1984, also in gold lettering.  The outside of the back cover was a cigarette ad that said “Come to Marlboro Country” and pictured a cowboy and horse.  One of the placing judges listed in the program was Hall of Fame jockey William Hartack; he and Eddie Arcaro are tied with the most Kentucky Derby wins with five each.

Five of the seven Breeders’ Cup races had sponsors: Chrysler, DeBeers, First Jersey Securities, Michelob, and Mobil Oil.  The seven Breeders’ Cup races were all Grade I and had total purses of $10 million, as compared to the $28 million that will be paid out over 14 Breeders’ Cup races in 2022.  Both cards had a couple of additional graded stakes races.

The seven Breeders’ Cup races were:

  • BC Juvenile
  • BC Juvenile Fillies
  • BC Sprint
  • BC Mile
  • BC Distaff
  • BC Turf
  • BC Classic

The first five races had purses of $1 million each, with the BC Turf at $2 million and the BC Classic at $3 million. 

The 1985 Kentucky Derby winner Spend A Buck finished third in the BC Juvenile behind Chief’s Crown and Tank’s Prospect.  The 1982 Kentucky Derby winner Gato Del Sol was eighth in the BC Turf.  The first BC Classic was won by Wild Again and trained by Vincent Timphony.

The list of owners, trainers, and jockeys in the program included many of the truly greats of both American and European racing.  A sampling:

  • owners Leslie Combs, Robert Sangster, the Aga Khan, Frank Stronach, Starvos Niarchos, Fred Hooper, Eugene Klein, and Allen Paulson
  • trainers Robert Frankel, John Gosden, John Nerud, Jack Van Berg, Francois Boutin, Carl Natzger, Charles Whittingham, and D. Wayne Lukas
  • jockeys Pat Day, Lafit Pincay Jr., Craig Perret, William Shoemaker, Angel Cordero Jr., Eddie Maple, Chris McCarron, and Eddie Delahoussaye. 

Many of the participants in the 2022 Breeders’ Cup were yet to be born in 1984.  They are following in the shoes of racing giants. A few of those giants will be competing in Breeders’ Cup number 39 at Keeneland.

Copyright © 2022 Horse Racing Business


To my knowledge, a private equity company has never invested in the horse industry, at least as not as aggressively and as extensively as Vodskov, Denmark-based Global Equestrian Group (GEG), which was founded in 2021.  Its stated mission is to be the largest equestrian company in the world.  Currently, it has 250-plus employees and annual revenues of about EURO 175 million. 

GEG has “activities in dressage, show jumping and events, jewelery…equestrian accessories and apparel, as well as other equestrian sports investments.”  Some of its acquisitions are:

Wellington International (Palm Beach County, FL)
Helgstrand Dressage
Ludger Beerbaum Stables
Riesenbeck International
Chronicle of the Horse magazine

GEG is a subsidiary of Waterland Private Equity, which was started in the Netherlands in 1999 and now has 12 offices in 10 countries.  Waterland has previously invested in 900 companies.  Its goal is to “enhance long-term value” in its portfolio companies.

In my view, the jury is out on whether even such a large-scale equine portfolio can generate the magnitude of monetary returns that investors in private equity normally expect.  Only time will tell. 

To date, GEG has not invested in horse racing and has not publicly indicated any plans in this respect.  If it decides to do so that could be the most significant development in the sport since the innovation of racing partnerships.

Copyright © 2022 Horse Racing Business


A documented trend in American horse racing is races with too few runners. 

Equibase just released its economic indicators for the third quarter 2022, which showed an average field size of 7.09 compared to 7.65 in the third quarter of 2021.  This decrease came despite the number of races also declining by 2.84%—from 10,436 races in the third quarter of 2021 to 10,140 races in the third quarter of 2022.

I thought of these statistics last week while reading the past performances for a 6-furlong $5,000 maiden claiming race.  The purse was $11,300.  The seven entries consisted mostly of 2- and 3-year-old geldings with one glaring exception.  That entry was an 8-year-old gelding with a pair of third-place finishes from 34 career starts, all maiden claiming, and earnings of $10,218.  Predictably, he ran fifth with a chart note “failed to menace.”  In most of his races, the gelding has lost by double-digit lengths.

Two questions: Why would an owner continue to foot the training and upkeep bills for an 8-year-old maiden gelding with a wretched record and no promise?  Moreover, why would a racing secretary accept a horse with virtually no chance? 

The first question has no satisfactory answer, but the second question does.  Racing secretaries are searching for horses to fill fields, as reflected in declining field sizes.  And this goes for graded stakes races on down to the cheapest claiming races.

In this regard, carding fewer races is a good strategy, within limits, of course.  Ideally, races would be full of competitive horses.  But reality dictates otherwise.

Copyright © 2022 Horse Racing Business