Posted: May 11, 2019
The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association has announced the establishment of the Empire Racing Club, a non-profit organization designed to introduce fans to racehorse ownership.
New York’s beloved retired race-caller Tom Durkin will serve as managing partner, and Eclipse Award-winner Todd Pletcher will be the club’s trainer.
“We are committed to helping grow the sport of horse racing,” said Durkin, who is also a member of the NYTHA Board of Directors. “We believe that the Empire Racing Club will offer a low-cost entry point to fans and potential new owners, with very little risk. My first experience in ownership was through a partnership syndicate, and both the camaraderie and shared enthusiasm encouraged me to pursue a greater involvement in the sport.”
Proceeds from the Empire Racing Club, a not-for-profit tax-exempt social club, will be used to pay the expenses of the horse and the club. Any excess funds will be distributed to a 501 (c)(3) non-profit aftercare organization—the club membership agreement specifically names New York’s TAKE THE LEAD Thoroughbred Retirement Program as the designee.
“It was very important to NYTHA that this Racing Club include an aftercare component,” NYTHA Executive Director Andy Belfiore said. “We are very proud of the work that our TAKE THE LEAD Program has done in working with Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance accredited partners to find homes for the horses retiring from the NYRA tracks. We know our club horses will be well cared for after their racing careers as well.”
The club will be limited to 200 members. The cost to join will be $500 for the term, with no further outlay by the participants, providing members with the racing and horse ownership experience without the pitfalls and costs often associated with the business.
As a perk, the club will partner with NYRA Bets, which will offer a $200 wagering credit to members who sign up as new NYRA Bets account-holders. The bonus is limited to individuals who have not previously held a NYRA Bets account.
Owning a racehorse can cost more than $50,000 a year, with no guarantee that a horse will ever make it to the starting gate. By joining the Empire Racing Club, members will have behind-the-scenes access and all the excitement at a fraction of the price. They will visit the backstretch, leaning on the rail with a cup of coffee while rubbing elbows with New York racing’s luminaries as their horse goes through his morning training. They will meet with the trainer and jockey in the paddock, getting a close-up look at the competition from the sidelines, rather than the stands. And, with racing luck, they will cheer their horse to victory and pose for a photo in the winner’s circle at one of NYRA’s beautiful racetracks.
Club members will receive regular updates about their horse via conference call, email and social media, and will meet with fellow members at dedicated club events and race days. They will also learn about the Thoroughbred industry on the following topics:
The Basics of Horse Ownership: Licensing, credentials, stable names, silks, budgeting and bills
So You Want to Own a Racehorse: Buying at the horse auctions
The Claiming Game: How do you claim a racehorse?
How to Train Your Racehorse: The basics of horse training
Want to Bet? Handicapping and wagering 101
Riding into the Sunset: Equine aftercare
“What I think is great about a racing club is that it gives the opportunity for a new owner to come in at a high level and be exposed to the game with someone who can guide them through the learning process,” Pletcher said. “It’s an introductory way without a huge investment that really brings you to the forefront of top racing.”