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OTTB Before he retires from racing......

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  • OTTB Before he retires from racing......

    I train racehorses and always need to find homes for my horses when I am ready to retire them. I know many trainers agonize over what to do with a horse that is no longer competitive. So many trainers keep trying to race a horse one more time in hopes of getting a paycheck. I see horses that are miserable still racing or sold to less than ideal trainers to race until they are too sore to do any other job.
    I want to know if anyone would be interested in meeting prospective horses before they are retired. I think more horses could get good homes, retire sound and sane if the trainers know they have a home waiting for their horses when they are no longer making money.
    How long would you like to watch and wait for a prospect? A few weeks, months a year?
    How much would you want to pay?
    I know CANTER has trainer listings but I was thinking you could get pics of the horses from the trainers, talk to the rider and or groom, watch race videos and get updates on the horse from the trainer as the horse nears retirement.
    Just wondered if this would be a viable way to connect good horses with riders that can give them a new career.
    Thanks in advance for your input.
    My mom didn't raise no jellybean salesman!

  • #2
    I would be hesitant to get attached to a prospect when it might get hurt before it retires.

    Third Charm Event Team


    • #3
      I've heard of that sort of thing happening before, usually someone who has a connection to the track and can follow the horse's career. Also, I think that does happen with CANTER. I've got my eye on a mare that's been listed for awhile but has been racing since being listed. I wonder if Steuart Pittman would be interested in expanding his Retired Racehorse site to include trainer listings of horses that are still 6-12 months out from retiring? Or perhaps CANTER? It's an interesting thought, how to get the word out to those without direct connections to the race world. Will be interested to hear what others think.
      The big guy: Lincoln

      Southern Maryland Equestrian


      • #4
        I think you'd have a hard time finding a trainer that would want to deal with the general public with regularity for a horse that's not ever FOR SALE. Most are just super busy. I think it would also be tough if that trainer was counting on a person to purchase a horse, and then when the time comes, that person is no longer interested for whatever reason.

        Also, the unknown period of time between meeting the horse and potential availability would be really tough. We've even had horses that it's a "yep, he's for sale, list him" but then the horse has a good work or looks good in a race and sort of falls into a grey area--the trainer still wants the horse listed, but isn't quite ready to sell--and it's frustrating for potential purchasers.

        Not to say your idea just won't work--I'm sure that there are some trainers who would be interested, and some people who would enjoy following the horse at the track and getting to know it before purchase--but overall, I think it would be a really tough business model.


        • #5
          Personally, yes I would, and know several people who would be interested ... I have a few that I either galloped myself or knew from being at the track who I've continued to follow in hopes of giving them a good home one day ... though the process can be both frustrating and heart wrenching when it is a horse you care very much about ... had an agreement with a trainer for a similar circumstance about a year and a half ago, but trainer decided to race horse for one last win, during which he got claimed by not so good trainer who I attempted to purchase said horse from, not so good trainer promised to keep me posted and I followed him up through last winter when I noticed him not looking so good, trainer continued to run him despite knowing the horse had a good home to go to, and it wasn't until horse was broken to the point of no return that he decided to sell, and at that point lied to a young girl about his soundness; long story short, was able to help the girl find him a new retirement home and get her money back, but horse will never be sound for riding again, and it broke my heart ... such an amazing horse, and have yet to buy another yet as none have tugged at my heart strings like he did and I knew him so well and all his faults ... it would be imperative for trainers wanting to be a part of something like this to really be willing to be forthcoming and honest about their horses and also truly looking to benefit the horses best interest as well as their own. I would not have any certain amount of time I'd want to watch the horse, would all be circumstantial ... temperament, soundness, and potential for a new career are all important and can be difficult to judge effectively while the horse is still racing, so taking the time to know the horse is beneficial and agree that having potential homes lined up may encourage more race trainers to second guess that one last race that could be one race too many.


          • #6
            My old trainer and I used to buy horses from one trainer before she retired. She probably had other people who she funneled horses through, but we bought quite a few of her horses over the years. I still have one

            I thought that our relationship worked well. In some ways it was similar to what you are proposing, we got horses that were still sound, but were no longer competitive as racehorses. We kept a few, resold the rest as show horses.

            Maybe you can cultivate a relationship with a few sport horse trainers in your area? I think that that would work better than having one person follow one horse.

            Simkie- LOL that happened to me a few years ago. I went to look at horse at Suffolk, really liked him, but he ran a big race the day before and they upped the price on him- 5K - his claiming price. He was nice, but not worth 5K to me.
            Unrepentant carb eater


            • #7
              I TRIED to do this once a few years ago. It was a nice Wekiva Springs filly and a daughter of a mare I used to own. Trainer and I agreed on a price and retirement date (and I was offering 5k- not a lowball price) but he kept on pushing the date back for "one more race." When I got notified that he was running her in a 4k claimer I walked away. I'd be very hesitant to try something like that again. That said, I do wish there was a better way to contact trainers and say "I'm interested in x" if you decide to sell. I suspect it would drive prices up a little bit, but if I could find a way to contact trainers with the horses that I really want (my OTTB rock star has a full sister running up north) it might be worthwhile if there was a network.
              The rebel in the grey shirt


              • #8
                The CANTER mare I brought home last week was listed in March. I spoke with the trainer who was very up front that he wanted to race her a couple more times. I stalked (Yes, stalked) her workouts and the Mountaineer entries and results. I kept in touch with the trainer and after she won her last race he said I could come get her. He sent jog pictures and was very up front about her history. While there picking her up he showed us some of his other horses. He has some nice horses and I will definitely stay in touch.


                • Original Poster

                  Thank you for your input.
                  Judysmom, I have sold horses to some local trainers but I live within 2 hrs of 4 racetracks and the market here is flooded with horses so I was hoping to expand my contacts.
                  Simkie, I agree most trainers are to busy to keep in contact with prospective buyers and I too think it is a tough business model. I used to find homes for many retiring horses but I changed tracks and just don't know the trainers here as well. I hate to see horses run until they are just pasture sound.
                  I sold the horse Freeby mentioned in another thread. He was listed for sale for almost a year before I actually decided not to run him again.
                  I enjoy finding good homes for these OTTBs. Maybe I will try this business model. I am in a position to do this as I know alot of trainers and will soon have more time on my hands.....Just thinking, thanks for your help everyone
                  My mom didn't raise no jellybean salesman!


                  • #10
                    I think you have to develop a core group of local enthusiasts. It's dangerous to court a far-away group of potential buyers, because they are too far away to be able to drop everything and come with a trailer when the horse becomes available, and it's also difficult to check and make sure the horse is fine in the future, or to make sure they live up to any contract (such as no-auction, etc.).

                    I would love to contact a couple of trainers who have horses currently racing that I am watching, either because they are related to horses I have or know, or because I've caught them on TV and thought they looked like good prospects. Honestly, I don't really know how I can find or speak with them, and unfortunately, even if you can contact one or two and talk to them, what they tell you and what walks out of the stall are often pretty different pictures. I've taken a few shopping trips to the tracks with pretty poor results over the past five or six years and I'm really careful now who I deal with, and stick with someone I know -- if not you'll just waste time and money.
                    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                    • #11
                      If you have the time and inclination, by all means reach out to the local (regional) H/J and eventing populace. I think that part of the problem with the process is that in many areas the track sits there completely un related to the local horsey community. I live near Saratoga and yet many of my barn friends have never even been to the races. Unless I mention Michael Matz or Rodney Jenkins (or maybe Baffert or Lukas) they don 't know the name of any of the horsemen there. (Not that Saratoga is exactly a feeder into the sporthorse community, but they function entirely apart.)
                      I'd see if there are any USEF affiliates or eventing or dressage organizations and plan an event through them. Maybe a "Come learn what the racehorse knows" day featuring morning works etc. If there are any other local clubs or organizations (affiliated with vet clinics or universities maybe?) that might connect you to interest parties, be sure they are invited.
                      The more people see that TB's are not big scary monsters, even while racing the better.

                      Now, the flipside. I do agree that many sport and h/j trainers will run out of patience on some horses. Maybe the "perfect buyer" is on hand today, but you hope to run Dobbin through the end of the meet. If the horse is that good, they should pony up and buy it themselves. Sadly, my experience is that many horsemen refuse to look at the positive and prefer to focus only on the differences they see as negative. the old "If I had that horse I'd..." Well, again, pony up and buy it if you are so smart. I would like to see some bridging of the gap between the sport/show world and the track.
                      F O.B
                      Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
                      Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


                      • Original Poster

                        Retreadeventer, I know the importance of needing people that can connect the race trainers with show homes. Many race trainers have no idea what type of horse is needed for eventing or dressage, just because the horse is sound doesn't mean he is clean legged. Many old race injuries resurface when horses are put to work off the track. I want to get homes for these horses before they get too beat up.
                        I have a good reputation for finding sound horses but I hear you, what you are told is not always what you find when you get to the track. I hope to be able to bridge this gap.
                        My mom didn't raise no jellybean salesman!


                        • #13
                          lpcutter- I helped CANTER Mid Atlantic start up the Canter trainer listings at Delaware Park. I can tell you that the issues faced are quite complex. This is our fourth year there. Our visits consist of walking from barn to barn to speak to trainers and act as a go between for the trainer to the public. We try to talk to them about the value of stopping horses early so they can find new homes and the services we provide (free listing service). However, many trainers have no interest in dealing with the public at all. They are quite opposed to us outsiders even stepping into their barns (we have to be careful).

                          I can understand why trainers find dealing with the public buyers quite difficult. Most sport horse people don't understand the track environment and many trainers don't understand what sport horse buyers are looking for so the difference in knowledge can result in insults. We know sport horse people like to have horses jogged out, see them ridden, have them vetted and so forth and trainers just don't have time for that. They want the horse moved and they get tired of people wasting their time. Half the time people make appointments and never show up. It often just takes one or two bad experiences and they never want to list with us again.

                          It can often be very difficult to translate race horse pricing into sport horse pricing. I struggle to explain to trainers why people may not be willing to look at a small mare listed for $3k, or a horse with a bow listed for $2500 or a colt. There is a whole education process that goes into making a racehorse priced so that your average sport horse person will be interested in taking a look at it. Then you have trainers who have lovely sound horses and sport horse people are making them offers of $300. They get insulted and don't want to list their horses anymore.

                          I guess what I am saying is that it is complicated. There are many trainers who care enough to deal with all the complications but many have been jaded enough to not want to go through that again.


                          • Original Poster

                            Jleegriffith, Everything you say is true. I can hope to educate trainers and prospective buyers of each other's needs. I want to thank you for your efforts through CANTER. You are doing a great service for many horses and it is not easy.
                            My mom didn't raise no jellybean salesman!


                            • #15
                              I've had the same issue as jlee when I do listings at Mountaineer. When the horses stay on the listings for a long time because they are overpriced (for what they are) I get complaints that listing horses on CANTER is a waste of time. I do have regulars with very nice horses and fair orices...they sell. Nothing is more frustrating than having a buyer who is ready to buy and a train who keeps saying, "one more race."
                              RIP Spider Murphy 4/20/02 - 10/31/10


                              • #16
                                I have seen a few horses listed on CANTER who are offered for sale but currently racing until sold. I would not be interested in looking at a horse I couldn't immediately buy because the trainer was holding out for a few more races. There are too many horses available immediately to bother getting invested in a "maybe."
                                Doubled Expectations (Roxy, 2001 APHA)
                                Al Amir (Al, 2005 OTTB)
                                Ten Purposes (Rosie, 2009 OTTB)