There are many aspects of the wonderful sport of Thoroughbred horse racing that are in a "blue funk" at the moment, but one that is flourishing is the proliferation of partnerships on the racetrack. I'll bet you close to half the horses racing today are owned by racing partnerships. And I think the sour economic times we're experiencing may see this trend increase sharply. It is a logical progression.
I am credited - or blamed - with having started the concept of formal group ownership of race horses. Around 40 years ago (Good Lord could it have been that long?) I got a couple of buddies together and we bought a cheap horse. Then, since I was the only one that knew anything about the subject, I decided next time to form a legal limited partnership, with myself as the managing partner. I got lucky, came up with a helluva horse, this brought publicity, and the next thing I knew I was in the horse business. Dogwood picked up momentum, as good horses came along, thankfully, and we've been rolling ever since.
Interestingly, in the early days the old guard in racing looked down their noses at this upstart break from tradition. I remember going to Lexington for what was called a "Day in Kentucky," designed to be an indoctrination for new people wanting to get in the horse business. My concept was the ideal way for most new people, and I was of course going to buy horses from the breeders who conducted this promotion. But I was treated like a bastard at a family reunion! In those days, farm owners, trainers, bloodstock agents… all of them would say disdainfully to me, "I don't know how you can stand to deal with all those people. Yuck! " This was ridiculous, of course, because every aspect of life and business deals with people. As long as they understand the ground rules of the proposition there should not be any problem.
Man! Nowadays, everybody and his dog have got a racing partnership. The auction consignor or market breeder who didn't get all his horses sold gets a bright idea: a partnership to go racing. The bloodstock agent who runs short of customers puts together a partnership. The horse trainer, a little low on horses, goes to the sale and buys a few for groups that he has put together. Some of the biggest breeding farms in Kentucky are starting to furiously put together racing partnerships. New people, greenhorns in racing, are even taking a crack at starting up ownership groups. That, I think, is not a good idea! But I understand all of this. It was just a long time coming, but it is coming on with a rush now.
This past fall Dogwood, realizing that economic conditions were trending downward with a vengeance, announced a new marketing policy in which we would offer some partnerships with eight shares, would lessen our markup with intentions of buying horses for 60 or 70 cents on the dollar, and would crack down on maintenance charges. It was a good move. The response has been terrific. We offered five individual horses, bought at the February 17 Ocala two-year-old sale. And this involved a total of 32 shares, ranging in price from $52,000 to $12,000. We made this offering on March 1. On March 16 we had sold them all, with more new people than ever before. This result is significant. Obviously we struck a responsive chord.
It has always been true that in depressed times in the past, the business and sport of racing horses has tended to stay on an even keel. It follows that this may indeed be the glory days of racing partnerships. I hope - and expect - it to continue to be for the one named Dogwood.
This is Cot Campbell and this in my view.