Horse racing is called the sport of kings for a reason. The high costs associated with buying, training and racing thoroughbreds limits the sport to a very select few who have both the will and financial means to take on those burdens. But a new, first-of-its-kind mobile app called MyRaceHorse is aiming to open horse ownership up to everyone with the time, money and a smartphone.
Thoroughbreds that race at the sport’s highest levels cost upwards of $1 million—and that’s before you add in hefty maintenance and training costs. But MyRaceHorse, available now in the Apple and Google app stores, offers a way around the high buy-in, giving its fans access to micro-shares of top thoroughbreds that can be purchased for a tiny fraction of the typical cost associated with buying a horse.
“We’re trying to democratize racehorse ownership,” founder and CEO Mike Behrens, a former top-level exec at Casper, recently told Robb Report over the phone. “Ninety-five percent of fans who enjoy racing don’t have the means to participate in ownership. But almost every one of them has an aspiration for a taste of ownership.”
Having launched in California last year, the app is now available in 43 states, including New York and Kentucky. Here’s how it works: Having partnered with some of the biggest names in racing, like trainers Richard Mandella, Brad Cox and Norm Casse, the company purchases a percentage of a top thoroughbred then breaks it up into shares users can purchase. Starting as low as $95, these shares are available for as little as 0.01 percent of the average cost of buying a horse, without any of the added yearly maintenance and training costs.
But just because some of the shares are available for less than $100 doesn’t mean users are taking a flyer on a horse with little chance of success. As Behrens explained, “The $95 horse, ironically, is our most highly valued asset. This horse was a $750,000 purchase, as a baby, but instead of pricing it in our usual increments of 0.1 percent we priced it at 0.01 percent. Our goal was to let anybody who ever wanted to compete at the highest level to have a chance.” In an email, a representative for the company told Robb Report that the horse sold out in six days to 500 investors.
As an equity owner, users are also able to share in the spoils of victory, including race winnings, awards or other proceeds. After maintenance and training costs are taken out of MyRaceHorse’s percentage of the purse, the remainder is divvied up among users based on their ownership stake. “Shareholders” also stand to profit from the eventual sale of a horse, even more so if it is used for breeding.
In addition to buying micro shares, users have also used the app to invest more substantial amounts. Behrens says that some of the app’s users have spent from $20,000 to $50,000 on available horses. Unlike traditional horse ownership, the app allows users to easily diversify their investments, a key, he says, to making money—or at least not losing it—in the horse business.
“Unfortunately, most horses don’t ever provide a return and the key to this game is diversification,” he said. “So use our platform, and instead of spending $20,000 and only owning 20 percent of one horse, you could own one percent of 20 horses. I believe this, and many people would attest to this, is a better experience.”
In the future, Behrens said the company hopes to expand MyRaceHorse’s capabilities. Right now, app users can only get in on an initial offering for a horse, but the app may soon offer an exchange where users can buy and sell shares during designated windows. If all goes according to plan, Behren’s goal of democratizing horse racing could be on its way to the finish line.