Standardbreds Are a Much Better Investment than Thoroughbreds

Sometimes a ‘win’ isn’t always a win. Video above from our first pacing client shows 8yo gelding Bigtime Ball (#1) finishing a respectable 4th place in the $100k event at Mohawk Raceway (sporting odds of 56-1). He also has a 2nd place finish at 21-1 and a third place effort at 12-1. Twice he lost to superstar Betterthancheddar who recently matched a world record mile over a 5F track in winning 10 of 11 starts.

Like the Arabians, I’ve not much experience with trotters and pacers, but am beginning to enjoy the sport. I grew up near Fairmount Park in St. Louis and began going to the thoroughbred races in 1976 at age 6 where my dad owned several claimers, but never attended the harness events for some unknown reason.

Previously I had researched the conditioning methods of harness horses in comparison to thoroughbreds here:

Once I also worked with a former harness conditioner in the thoroughbred arena here in Louisville and observed his great success developing the 2008 Claimer of the Year:

So, last month I started to wonder about the financial aspects of harness racing in comparison to those of the thoroughbred game and came across these facts from Eclipse Award winning writer Bill Finley in 2008, who answered the question – What happened with the 24 most expensive yearlings purchased?

Standardbreds cost a cumulative $5,617,000 and earned $4,034,493 for a ROI of 71.8%
Thoroughbreds cost a cumulative $31,200,000 but earned $579,621 for a ROI of 1.9%.

How about the overall marketplace?

In 2010:
Standardbred foals numbering 12,200 in North America ran for purses totalling $613 million while thoroughbreds contested over $1.2 billion in monies, albeit competing with a foal crop of 36,100 babies. Therefore, available purses per foal computes to $50,284 per standardbred vs. $33,333 per thoroughbred youngster.

More: Standardbreds avg 17 starts per year, while thoroughbreds avg but 6.

Look at our example in the video above, Bigtime Ball began racing in May 2012 and has made 5 starts over the past 8 weeks – with 1 win, 1 place, and 2 shows. Purses total over $44,000. Lifetime earnings are near $1.5 million with 37 wins – that’s a lot of excitement!

John Carver has it figured out, in spades. He owns near 200 harness racers, along with an interest in many top thoroughbreds conditioned by Jerry Hollendorfer, such as Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile Champion Dakota Phone and wonder filly Blind Luck – earner of $3 million plus as a $11k yearling purchase.

(Here’s a behind the scenes video of Blind Luck getting a cold laser massage courtesy of Laserman Steve Bourmas at Del Mar – )

Following the model set by Mr. Carver, Thoroedge is going to target an increasing number of Arabian and harness racers to balance out the thoroughbred portfolio – with a goal of having 10 races per week to enjoy at involving client’s entries.


About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on July 2, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. As someone who works with both breeds, these horses get more extensive therapeutic treatments than thoroughbreds, especially the good ones. The trainers and owners of Standarbreds are much more open minded and are willing to try anything that will help their horse run better and sounder. That’s how I came to work for John Carver. Unfortunately, not all treatments or therapies are effective or alike but I’m a little biased I guess. I still believe that anything you do to try to make the horse’s life easier, is alright with me, regardless if I’m used or not. One more thing, Standardbreds also run at a really advanced age on a consistent level! You always see 7-10 yr olds running in every race and some that really get better with age!

  2. Like your blog alot. If even more people would listen…
    Sry for off topic but do you have any news about Bart Hermans? Haven’t heard about him lately…

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