08 December 2008

Here's what I don't get

I had a discussion with my accountant (the man is brilliant) the other day. We soberly debated the finer points of my business plan and worked out the details of the racing empire. Actually, I think he was trying not to slit his wrists with an Oreo as I stumbled my way through a pathetic attempt at explaining what the hell I was trying to achieve.

After seriously reconsidering his acceptance of this burden, he graciously pointed out to me the basic requirements of bookkeeping and, you know, structure. Apparently one is supposed to retain these mythical parchments called receipts.

We discussed Imalexus and her dearth of actual races but a plethora of training expenses and the implications of those numbers on my tax returns.

"What implications?" I asked charmingly. "That money is just spent isn't it? I mean, I don't expect to actually make anything from this, if I do that's great but ultimately I am just hoping to enjoy myself and the horse and field inane questions on May 2nd, from Quint Kessenich, as I pluck rose petals from my teeth ."

What else is there to this game? It is not a business. Breeding is a business; so is track management but racehorse ownership is not.

I don't understand the owners that get into this game and expect to make money at it. I am not saying a profit from the venture would not be welcome and there is no room for sound business practices in running the operation but the expectation of profit is deluded and not at all what this game is about.

Crushing blow to my novelty...Pullthepocket has a great post about this very issue on his site and he is far more qualified to discuss this than I am.

The game is not for everybody and especially so the ownership side. These are not shoes we buy and then throw out once they are out of fashion or a Betamax player we discard because they have this new fangled device called a VHS.

Owning and racing a horse is a commitment to something bigger and more pure. It is worthy of more than just a shot at the action.

There are many things wrong with this game and much blame to go around. Owners need to make themselves some room at the table of recrimination, they are not without fault.


Anonymous said...

It does make you wonder when that old joke stopped being recognized as a universal truth - "how do you get a small fortune in racing? Start out with a large one." The gradual separation of ownership and control has contributed to the problem, I think - it makes it easier to view horses as assets that you should dump when they stop generating revenue, much easier to eschew responsibility.
As far as owner responsibility goes, I've been advocating it for a while, so you aren't going to hear any arguments from me.

Anonymous said...

Who can say what business is more noble than one other's. Anyone can argue they do good in their own business than yours. Not very impressed, sorry.

Wind Gatherer said...

Kerry-Would a change in the law that regards animals as personal property carry any weight? It would probably put too much of a burden on owners for anyone to get behind it.

Josephine-I am not sure where you read that I profess to be more noble than anybody else. I think the matter of regarding horses as property is a legitimate concern for anyone to have.

Thank you both for reading.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what you mean. Law treats horses as all sorts of things, including personal property, consumer goods, equipment, farm products ... are you saying horses should or should not be regarded as personal property? Sorry, just not following, my fault, too focused on land use planning today.

Wind Gatherer said...

Kerry- Sorry. My fault. But I need you to immediately get back to me on this with an extensive report and the oldest precedent on the books.

Actually, I bought 'The Complete Equine Legal and Business Handbook' by Milton C. Toby(Bloodhorse publication) and he states that all fifty states regard animals as personal property.

I was just spitballing the possibility of changing that and affording animals some more, maybe "rights" isn't the correct word, but protections. I don't know either way but I would guess it would not receive much support, since it would impose greater responsibilities on owners.

I don't know what the legal issues are but I think the designation as property lets owners wash their hands in all cases.

Anonymous said...

Yessir, I'll have that to you first thing in the morning.

trracki said...

It does not help when your managing partner cannot even make an attempt to keep people in the know. As other blogs such as Handride and Owning Thoroughbreds can attest, Equibase alerts provide more info than your "leader". The reality is that most syndiactions exist solely for the management fees they collect (some upwards of 30%). Getting people into the game has become a forgotten goal. Most online or publically advertised partnerships do a better job at getting people to leave the game than to stay. If something is not done to prevent this you can kiss the next generation of owners goodbye.

Steve Zorn said...

Winston & Kerry: I think the "personal property" question is something of a red herring. Yes, horses are "personal property" in all 50 states, but that doesn't mean we can't have laws, or for that matter Jockey Club rules, that require breeders and owners to provide for their horses' post-racing careers. All sorts of laws and regulations restrict the ability of people to deal with their personal property, for the good of the larger community.

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