A Guy’s First Race HorseBy Bernard Kroviak, CDC Gaming ReportsNovember 24, 2018 at 3:31 pmThe Breeders’ Cup, thoroughbred horse racing’s Championship day, was run earlier this month at Churchill Downs. A total of 221 horses were entered in this year’s Cup races. Many of these mounts were home-bred, meaning that they were bred and raced by their current owner; others were bought at sales on the open market or at auction.The two-year-olds who actually won a Breeders’ Cup race this year were purchased at sales. Most of these were sold for between $110,000 and $250,000. Others, who did not win, were bought for prices ranging from $400,000 to more than $1 million. Some of those more expensive horses never even hit the board. They may go on to win later in their careers, but you can see what a risky venture it can be buying young horses.As far as older horses on Championship Day, several did very well, but others were huge disappointments. This year’s Cup winners ranged from a horse that was bred for only $27,000 and has now won close to $11 million and another who was bred for $17,500 and has won $6 million. Needless to say, those are the kinds of horses that all breeders hope to produce. One horse that did win was slightly pricier, bought for a $710,000 purchase price, but that’s still a great acquisition for their partners. Non-winners who also handsomely rewarded their owners included a horse bred for a mere $5,900 which has won over $2 million during his career and another, bought for just $16,000, who has over $4.3 million in career earnings and finished second on this years’ biggest day. The best deal in this year’s field was a horse bred for $15,700 who has lifetime earnings of over $9 million.Disappointments included a horse that was purchased for $3 million and did not hit the board – although this horse has still won $2,900,000 in his career – and another that was bought for $425,000 and has rewarded his backers with winnings over $5.7 million. This horse, too, didn’t hit the Breeders’ Cup board. Horses that were bought for $425,000, $370,000 and $300,000 also did not fare well.So you can see why the Breeders Cup, racing’s biggest day, attracts the best and most expensive horses in the world – and why I was not likely to be able to compete at that level with my two $3,000 purchases.Nevertheless, dreams abounded on a frigid Ohio day, with the wind chill hovering somewhere around -33 degrees Fahrenheit, as the first horses I had an ownership stake in arrived from sunny California. The two horses, both of which had just turned three, were now in the Buckeye State to begin their racing careers. One was a gray colt, Monsieur Leclercq, so named by my French partner after his father-in-law. The other was a bay filly he called Bourg Royal, named in part for the mare who foaled her. Though both horses had the same sire, that did not make them brother and sister; in thoroughbred racing, that relationship only occurs when two horses have the same mother. So here I was: a guy of Polish descent, from Ohio, suddenly a part-owner of two California-bred horses, both of which had French names. My friends got a real kick out of that.Of course, our dreams were realistic. We weren’t targeting the Kentucky Derby or a Breeders Cup race. We knew that our non-regal mounts certainly would not qualify for that level of racing. Little did I then realize how long it takes young horses, regally bred or not, to actually get ready to race – which includes, of all things, learning how to run. I assumed that running was inherent in their DNA, but learning how to do it on command, around other horses, from a starting gate, and in a straight line proved to be a lesson in frustration for many young horses. This of course gives weight to the statistic that only 60% of all foals make it to the races.We were quite a bit behind others, as well, as most people begin training their horses at age two. That way, either later that year or early in their three-year-old season, they are fit and ready to race. Our newly arrived pair had never been broken or even ridden, so although that process was fun to watch, it seemed to take forever. Often my partners had to remind me to be patient. Without patience, one could not survive in this business.For four months, I would drive out to the training center on Saturdays and Sundays to watch the horses practice. I was still working at the time, so weekends were the only opportunity I had to witness the process. I saw them change physically from week to week; as they got fitter and more conditioned, their bodies became muscled and sleek.My excitement only grew as they prepared to go to Thistledown race track for the next phase of their development. The spring racing season was about to begin, and their training had been going well. Surely, I figured, our kids would soon be ready for a real race, but that was not to be. Up to this point, their training had been mostly learning, galloping, and adjusting to the rigors that awaited them. Their most strenuous work was just beginning, and my patience was about to get a real test.