Don't let the pony parties fool you. At Upcountry, our raison d'etre is thoroughbred racing. This what gets us out of bed at 5:30 a.m. on a snowy, sub-zero, Midwest winter morning.
Considering only 25% of all thoroughbreds will win at least one race, the challenge of establishing a successful racing program is great and can be costly. Putting your money where your mouth is and finding redemption on the racetrack... Priceless.
Given our focus on quality over quantity, we will have no more than four up and coming racehorses on our farm. On average, they will stay here for about 1½ to 2 years each, during which time our main focus is to keep them safe and sound. Right around their second birthday, we send our runners away to a training center where they learn to become racehorses. If all goes well, they could make their first start as early as the summer of their two year old year.
To help you understand some of the dynamics involved in horse racing a bit more clearly, we will make an analogy between a racing stable and a professional football franchise:
A racing stable is owned by an individual (or partners) much like a football team. And much like the NFL; via the various sales throughout the country, the thoroughbred industry has many "Drafts" of its own. At the sales, you can look at all of the athletes and determine which ones you'd like to add to your roster.
Much like a football player, you can give the horses quite an extensive physical (through the help of a veterinaran): e.g. Examine x-rays to make sure all the bone matter looks like it should and there aren't any chips or fractures, etc. You could scope the horses throats (actually putting a tube with a camera through their nose toward their throat in order to see if the throat opens and closes properly). Think of the throat as a carburator. Also, it's always a good idea to get a second opinion from your vet just in case you missed something during your own visual examination.
Depending on your "salary cap" or budget, you don't always get the athlete you want. Therefore, sometimes you must continue to scout until you find one with a price you can live with as you don't want to experience any buyer's remorse when buying a racehorse. While the athleticism of a horse is very objective, affordability is subjective. Believe it or not, a horse with great conformation and great bloodlines from a family of stakes winners can be considered a bargain at one million dollars; similarly, an athletic looking individual from an unproven family and light pedigree can be a bargain at ten thousand dollars.
Once the horse is ready for the racetrack, you select a trainer. In this case, the trainer is much like the head coach. It is their program which is responsible for getting your racehorse game-ready.
The jockey, like a quarterback, is to follow the instruction of the trainer/ head coach as you map out the best career path for your horse; Is it a sprinter or a route horse?, does it like the turf or dirt? does it want to set the pace or come from behind? These are just a few of the variables you must figure out in order to optimize the return of your investment.
We urge everyone to road trip to Lexington, Kentucky's Keeneland Race Track and Sales Pavillion for the September Yearling Sales in order to take in the spectacle of the horse auction. Aside from very informative seminars, you'll find lots of electricity and intrigue, mild temperatures, and with the leaves changing and the beauty of thousands of young horses, it will be an experience you won't soon forget. This is a great way to get your feet wet and gain some experience in what we feel is the world's greatest sports industry.
If you have any questions, or would like to become involved in a racehorse partnership, please contact us via our website. Pretendica's
"Pretendica's second career victory"
Pretendica's first win!