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  • Pinhooking

    I am looking into buying a Thoroughbred weanling(s) at the November sale to resale at the yearling sale in September. I have been to sales at Keeneland and am somewhat familiar with the process. I have always wanted to get involved in horse racing. I have looked at multiple ways to get into the sport and this looks like the best for me. I am looking at buying weanling(s) in the under 5,000 price range. I know that this is a tough price range to make money, but I figure I will lose the least amount while I learn about conformation/care of horse/pedigree end of the sport. Hoping I can come close to breaking even, not lose too much, or maybe get lucky and make some money. I have been told that the cost of care and feeding a weanling from November to September of the following year (10 months) to be 12,000 - 15,000. This seems a bit high to me. I plan on raising and feeding the horses myself on my own property. I am estimating the cost to be between 2,500 - 3,600 per year. A few questions that any information on would be greatly appreciated.

    What should I expect to spend on care (vet, feed, farrier, other) per horse from November to September?

    Are there any extra vet bills that are required for Thoroughbreds to be sold at auction that I am not aware of?

    I know each horse needs an individual feeding plan, but I could really use a starting point on types/amount of feed/hay? I will have the horses on pasture as well.

    I will use a bloodstock agent to identify horses to purchase. Is it completely necessary to use a Consignor to sale or would it be crazy not to?

    Should I have my head examined for contemplating such a venture?

  • #2
    There are easier ways for a neophyte to get involved in horse racing. Successful pinhooking requires a serious amount of expertise. Not only that but in your budget you will mostly be looking at weanlings who already have issues--poor conformation, xray or throat problems, or significant lack of pedigree--all of which are likely to hurt you when you go to sell them as yearlings.

    Yes, you can raise the weanlings on your farm, but judging by the questions you're asking, they will not look like KY sales yearlings the following year. The Keeneland September sale catalogs 4,000+ yearlings and buyers have plenty to choose from. Those that don't fit the mold--mature, handsome, well trained--will not find a receptive audience.

    I'm sorry to be so negative about your prospective venture. There are lots of TB pinhooking syndicates available. Maybe you could get your feet wet by buying into one of them? That way you could be a participant in the process while having an opportunity to learn how it works at the same time. I wish you luck with your plan. The TB industry certainly needs more new owners--but it also tends to chew up and spit out those who don't proceed with great caution. Hopefully you will have a wonderful first experience.


    • #3
      ^^ This. You are putting the cart before the horse. Spend a year or 2 or 3 learning how to take care of a horse and about the different regional markets, pedigrees, conformation, etc. You will either have an "eye" or not for a good horse (I do NOT).
      "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederatcy against him."


      • #4
        Might also want to visit with those who specialize in preparing successful yearlings for auction presentation, it is very much a specialized field, especially the 60 days leading up to the sale. Sale like Keeneland, buyers have a certain expectation the consignments in any price range will be "dressed" for the occasion.

        The more you can learn about selecting and preparing yearlings for the higher end auction ring, the better you will be able to avoid losing more then you put into it between acquisition costs, 10 months of upkeep, sales prep, auction fees that might surprise you and making a questionable first impression on your horse community. That's IF they even get to the auction in salable condition-yearlings routinely try to self destruct or kill each othe, banged up horses are not what buyers want to see. Even in lower end colts.

        There's more risk of not even getting to the auction then you think. You are making some assumptions. I'd concentrate on learning more about the process and actual costs to keep them in the kind of condition buyers expect at any price. I'm in your area and think your cost estimate is on the low side and there will be vet cakes and regular farrier work. One unplanned vet procedure often exceeds your projected budget. One serious colic, even if non surgical, is easily 1k. A soft tissue leg injury with diagnostics is 1k, more if any therapies to help healing are done. Simple injury at the wrong time means colt misses the sale while recovering. Then what? And the suckers will get banged up.
        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


        • #5
          findeight - recipe for the vet cakes please?
          "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederatcy against him."


          • #6
            If you own your own farm, I would advise you to hire a very experienced farm manager and wet your feet by boarding the yearlings others are flipping/pinhooking.

            Watch and learn for a couple years and stash away a little money.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post
              findeight - recipe for the vet cakes please?
              I snorted.
              Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


              • #8
                OP, do you know anything about horses in general? It seems at least possible from your OP that you may not, because your post pretty much asks folks to sum up several books' (or lifetimes'!) worth of knowledge in a few pithy sentences on an internet bulletin board. My apologies if you do know about horse care in general -- I just didn't get that sense from your post.

                I mean, you're even asking what to feed your potential horses and how to price feeding and care costs out - without saying anything about what region you are in (costs and types of forage are going to vary with where you are located, costs for veterinary and other services may vary widely depending on where your farm is/will be, etc.). And all that's just basic horse knowledge -- not even getting started on prepping weanling to yearling thoroughbreds for auction.

                Raising young horses is not something I'd at all recommend "learning by doing." You would need to at minimum hire a very knowledgeable barn manager and staff -- and of course that's going to seriously impact potential profit margins.

                Buying into syndicates sounds like a much more sensible and less risky way to get into thoroughbred racing! I'd love to do it myself some day.
                If thou hast a sorrow, tell it not to the arrow, tell it to thy saddlebow, and ride on, singing. -- King Alfred the Great


                • #9
                  It would also be a good thing to have a plan in place for the horses if they don't sell. Would you be prepared to keep them, let them mature and train them to be something other than a racing horse if the sales didn't go through?


                  • #10
                    I think your starting budget for pinhooking is low. I know people who raise horses for the big sales and they have done very well for themselves but have been in the business for DECADES.

                    If you want to get into the industry there are several options:
                    *Buy into a syndicate or owners group to see how things work and get closer to the action. There are many groups you can get involved with at a wide variety of pricing levels. You may not be much involved with the decisions, but can at least see how things work. some groups have multiple people investing in one horse. Other groups have multiple people investing in a small number of horses.

                    *Buy a weanling or yearling with the help of a very good advisor who does this themselves and ask them to help you prep that one horse. This is more expensive but will give you more decision making power.

                    When it comes to prepping for the sales, you would need to start at least several months before with a very specific prep program. This is best done by people who know what buyers are looking for. Yes, you could save money by doing everything on your own farm, but people in this business are not very forgiving if something isn't just right. At the sales the horse has to get used to behaving well for a lot of potential buyers, being stood up, put back, etc. on and on...it's a lot for a young horse to get used to. It is hard to show a horse to its best advantage if it does not know how to handle that kind of environment well.

                    It takes an extremely good eye to turn a $5k race horse into an investment that makes money. Besides, just the amount you spend to fulfill all the vet requirements before the sale is enormous compared with the type of PPE that most people do for a riding horse.

                    Sales also vary from year to year according to whichever sire is the flavor of the month. Big size also tends to sell well. I know those who, if they have a small weanling, might hold it back from the fall weanling sale and then bring it out as a yearling when it is more mature and might command a better price.

                    There is a lot to consider. If you have the money, you might find it fun to try option 2 above and work closely with someone who can advise you. Don't spend more than you can afford to flush down the toilet.


                    • Original Poster

                      I appreciate all the responses. Thanks for the input. I have decide to spend more time looking into pinhooking or possibly another direction in racing.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post
                        findeight - recipe for the vet cakes please?
                        Wet a large number of $20, $50 and $100 bills and press to form two equal sized layers. Cover the bottom layer with unexpired, high limit credit cards. Place other layer of bills on top. Voila, vet cake.

                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by findeight View Post

                          Wet a large number of $20, $50 and $100 bills and press to form two equal sized layers. Cover the bottom layer with unexpired, high limit credit cards. Place other layer of bills on top. Voila, vet cake.
                          Don't forget to decorate it with signed, blank checks folded up into origami horse heads!


                          • #14

                            You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something… S. Jobs