Partnership Advice: Don't Whine and Do Your Homework

Partnerships in Thoroughbred ownership may offer an easier and less-costly way to enter the business, but partnership managers have some friendly advice: Use your head and have reasonable expectations.

"If you're going to brood, whine, and carry on about what could have been or should have been, you shouldn't touch it with a 10-foot pole," said Cothran "Cot" Campbell, considered the father of racehorse partnerships through his Dogwood Stables.

Campbell participated in an Oct. 28 Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association seminar for new and prospective owners at Belmont Park in conjunction with the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. Other partnership managers that spoke were Don Little of Centennial Farms and Billy Koch of Little Red Feather Racing.

Dogwood and Little Red Feather own Limehouse and Singletary, respectively, which have been entered in the NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT). Centennial has owned such top horses as Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner Colonial Affair and sprint champion Rubiano.

Dogwood, Campbell said, sets up each partnership the same: four 23.75% shares, and 5% for Dogwood. Campbell said he started with 40-share partnerships and decided it wasn't the way to go.

The typical horse Campbell selects at sales costs $100,000 to $200,000. He said he marks them up "to a price we think is fair." The average cost to keep a horse in training each year is about $45,000, he said.

"I don't need to point out most horses are not very good," Campbell said. "To find the perfect horse is a fruitless quest."

Little said Centennial partnerships have a minimum of three people and a maximum of six or seven. He said Centennial has had about 500 partners in the last 22 years; some are still owners, while others are not.

"Some stay in as partners, but others get frustrated," Little said. "As Cot said, they many not have the right state of mind (for racehorse ownership)."

Little said Centennial looks for horses in the $200,000 to $300,000 range at sales. The initial investment covers all expenses through a horse's 2-year-old year, he said.

Koch, whose partnership won last year's Mile with Singletary, said prospective owners should do their homework, get references, and make sure the partnership and those involved are trustworthy. He focused on the excitement of owning a horse that wins a major race.

"There is no feeling like it in the world," Koch said. "If they could bottle that feeling and sell it, I'd be a gazillionaire."

Koch said Little Red Feather makes a point to meet and exchange information with other partnerships in California to discuss ways to get new owners involved with Thoroughbred racing.