How Much Does A Race Horse Cost?
Many fans and devotees of horse racing often think about owning or training their own racehorse, but how much does a racehorse cost to purchase, and what are the expenses after securing one for your own? As might be expected, racehorses of good, Thoroughbred stock are often extremely expensive even before they begin their racing careers, and the costs of keeping them and training them can be just as costly. Here, we take a look at how much it costs to own a racehorse and keep it, feed it, and train it for racing.
Cost of Purchasing a Racehorse
As one might guess from a business as big as horse racing, the cost of purchasing a racehorse for yourself will often exceed expectations. Racehorses are typically valued at a given price based on two categories: pedigree and conformation. Pedigree refers to the horse’s lineage and genetics and takes into consideration the conformation of the horse’s parents, including their racing history. Horses with parents or ancestors of good racing stock will cost more than horses of lesser stock. The second category is the horse’s individual conformation, which is defined as its physical characteristics according to five key traits: balance, structural correctness, way of going (the way the horse moves), muscling, and breed and sex character (also known as “type,” referring to how well a horse represents its breed and sex).
When considering these two categories, the average sales price of a decent racehorse comes in at around $75,000. Greater specifics, such as training and age, also affect these prices: a two-year-old Thoroughbred who is currently training, for example, can sell for an average price of $94,247, while a yearling will typically cost around $84,722. However, for horses of excellent stock and good conformation, prices are often far higher than this and can even number in the millions of dollars. As an example, the most expensive racehorse ever sold was Fusaichi Pegasus, a yearling who was initially purchased for $4 million, but after winning six races, including the 2000 Kentucky Derby, eventually sold for an astonishing $70 million.
Racehorses are commonly bought from private owners, which is often the easiest way to get a better deal on a horse. Owners may be willing to sell good horses at a reduced cost due to financial difficulties or concerns about the horse’s performance or injuries. Still, this method of buying always comes with risks, so prospective owners should be ready to haggle.
Another way to purchase a racehorse is through a racehorse auction. Racehorse auctions are events where various buyers gather together to view and then bid on horses that are for sale. Auctions are an excellent way to get quick and relevant information about the horses being offered, as each auction will provide buyers with a catalog detailing the horses’ pedigree and conformation. Auctions will typically give buyers a few days to look at the horses before the bidding begins, and auctions for two-year-old horses also often include workout days where buyers can watch the horses perform in order to get a better sense of their strengths and weaknesses. As one might expect, once the auction starts, prices often skyrocket quickly. While auctions are an easy way to find and examine horses, they are notorious for bidding wars, and buyers who attend them should be aware that many people often wind up paying more than they expected for a horse as a result of getting into a bidding war. Famous auctions for racehorses include Keeneland’s September Yearling Sale, located in Lexington, Kentucky, and Tattersalls, the primary racehorse auctioneers of the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Training and Upkeep
After purchasing a racehorse, one can expect additional expenses related to training and keeping it. The costs for training and stabling a racehorse often average between $30,000 and $50,000 per year, which covers expenses such as training, food, veterinary care, stabling, and other costs. In order to train a newly-purchased horse, one must find a horse trainer, and horse trainers typically charge a daily rate for training a horse, varying from $60 to $120 a day. All good horses will require excellent veterinary care in order to detect and solve medical issues, and this will likely cost around $500 per month. Additionally, racehorses require horseshoes in order to compete, which will necessitate the employment of a farrier to trim and shoe a horse’s hooves, costing around $300 per month. Horses will often require insurance coverage, typically costing around $125 per month. Finally, horse owners will have to put up money for the entry fees of any races they want their horse to participate in. Entry fees for a race like the Kentucky Derby often cost as much as $25,000, but lesser races can range between $600 and $6,000.
Risks and Benefits of Owning a Racehorse
There are a number of risks inherent to purchasing and owning a racehorse. Firstly, despite the value placed on a horse based on its pedigree and conformation, all horses are unique, and a good pedigree and conformation do not necessarily mean that the horse will race well. Secondly, horses can often have underlying medical issues that are not apparent when purchased, such as heart conditions, and they can easily be injured or lamed if trained or housed incorrectly. Finally, buyers should always be aware of the possibility that private owners may attempt to deceive a buyer by hiding a horse’s medical history, hoping that they can get rid of a lame horse to an unsuspecting buyer for good money.
However, despite these risks, owning a racehorse can have numerous benefits. If a horse wins a number of races, its value will increase dramatically, and selling it may bring the former owners a large amount of money. Additionally, owning a championship horse is often prideful enough on its own.
Those who are interested in buying a racehorse should be aware that doing so is often extremely expensive. Owning a racehorse is often something that can be done only by those wealthy enough to afford the numerous expenses that come with the purchase, in addition to the already-high purchasing price. Additionally, there are a number of risks involved even after purchasing a horse. However, if done wisely and correctly, owning a racehorse can bring in profits that far exceed the cost of purchase.