Steve Whitman said recently his involvement in the Fasig-Tipton Racing Club has “exceeded my expectations” and it also has made him “more willing” to venture into the Thorughbred business on his own when the year-long experience ends.
That’s good news for Fasig-Tipton because the Kentucky-based auction firm started the club at the beginning of 2010 to introduce people with little knowledge of the sport to the industry in the hopes they might become participants. The club has 26 members and a stable of four horses that have been leased for racing purposes. Majestic Blue, a 4-year-old son of Forestry, became the club’s first winner March 20 when he scored by a half-length over Strasbourg in a six-furlong allowance race at Gulfstream Park in Florida.
Whitman, who lives in Lexington, was involved in the software business before he retired.
“I hadn’t done anything more than wondering what it was like,” said Whitman of Thoroughbred racing. “But I’m glad I did it (joined the racing club). It’s been a good sharing experience with the people in the group and there has been satisfaction from watching the horses through an owner’s perspective and learning about all the training and education that goes along with it. It was easy to get involved in, and it was a pretty safe way to get involved. For me, probably the most important thing was that my exposure to any downside and costs was capped. I wasn’t really interested in signing up for a major commitment in something that I didn’t know much about.”
Whitman’s wife, Becky, has also enjoyed learning more about Thoroughbreds through the racing club.
“The horses are beautiful,” she said. “I like the artistry and athleticism of racing, and meeting the jockeys was fun.”
Club activities have included attending the races and various educational opportunities. Members had an opportunity to take part in a variety of events that were scheduled around the March 2 Fasig-Tipton Florida select sale of 2-year-olds in training. In April, there will be a two-day program in Lexington designed to let members “trace the life of a Throughbred, from a foal to the track,” according to the racing club’s website (www.fasigtiptonracingclub.com).
Will Berkley, another club member, is in the real estate business in Lexington and doing valuations on horse farms is part of his job. Through the racing club, he is learning more about the Thoroughbred business.
“I know how to value a horse farm, but I don’t know how to value a horse,” he said. “This has been a chance to meet more people involved in the Thoroughbred business and it’s been a lot of fun. Racing is exciting, and it’s amazing to me how much goes into it. I have friends in the horse business and now I know a little bit more about what they do.”
In the future, he said he “possibly” would consider becoming a Thoroughbred owner, but even if he doesn’t, his involvement in the racing club will be worthwhile because “it will help me in my own business.”
Fasig-Tipton officials declined to disclose how much each person paid to join the racing club, but sources have indicated it was less than $10,000.