Michael Behrens sat patiently waiting. He came to the outskirts just north of Lexington, Kentucky for an interview with Spendthrift Farm’s owner, B. Wayne Hughes.
Hughes, the founder and chairman of the behemoth, Public Storage, was a man who never passed on a chance to grow the industry.
Behrens had a similar vision, and most of all, he had developed a project in his home state of California that would entice any enthusiast of the sport. The nuts and bolts of the scheme involved Thoroughbreds and racing. He called it, MyRaceHorse.
The idea was a simple one. Sell shares in horses that members of the public could purchase or more accurately, afford. MyRaceHorse makes the introductions and creates the partnerships, all the while keeping an eye on the SEC, in order to play by the rules.
Last year, they officially went “live” and the reaction was overwhelming. Buying micro-shares makes ownership simpler, as Behrens conceived, because there are just too many pitfalls, fees, and complicated verbiage.
That is where MyRaceHorse creates a platform to funnel information for prospective investors, and once you buy in, you feel that “connection,” hence the name. To put it another way, democracy for all that seek to take on the risk.
Over the summer, as COVID-19 shelved major sporting events, MyRaceHorse forged ahead with a plan to develop a partnership unlike any before. Behrens worked diligently to make it happen. When he went to Spendthrift, he did not get to speak with Hughes, but after pitching to the upper management, the owner rang him the next day and was intrigued.
Behrens has a background in marketing, and he knows how to craft a product and sell. Likewise, Hughes had spent time making ownership more accessible since he bought Spendthrift Farm back in the early 2000s. It was a match.
The plan Hughes and Behrens hatched was an audacious one: offer shares to the public (12,500 of them to be exact) for 206.00 each in an offspring of Into Mischief, a promising stallion in the Spendthrift breeding shed. That horse was the Bob Baffert-trained, Authentic, who just happened to be slated for the march to the Kentucky Derby.
The interesting aspect of the story of Authentic is that he was, and still is, considered a highly-underrated horse. Even as the presumptive favorite in the upcoming Preakness there are cynics.
That might be hard to fathom, but it is mainly due to skepticism concerning whether he can get the distance of anything over a 1 ¼. Loads of pundits don’t see him being able to do it. They think he got too easy a lead in the Derby, and that Baffert’s other horse, Thousand Words, who was scratched in the paddock, is a much greater talent than Authentic.
Doubt swirls, but there are at least 5,314 people who definitively disagree. That’s the number of investors who bought the 12,500 shares in Authentic. This opportunity is unlike any other that MyRaceHorse has offered. Instead of parceling out dividend checks based on winnings, the site offered shareholders access to the breeding rights.
Eventful to say the least, now that the horse is a Kentucky Derby winner. The center has exploded. In one fell swoop, John Velasquez got loose on the lead, sporting the MyRaceHorse silks (suggested by Hughes to wear as an homage to the process), and Authentic powered across the wire at Churchill Downs. Behrens’ model proved that “buy-in” comes in many different forms.
What makes MyRaceHorse unique is that all the frontend risk, like mortality and 1st time stallion insurance, is taken on by the company. With costs built into each share, include their 15% fee, Behrens’ company removes the guesswork and fine print from the equation.
Trust and delivering a great product leads to more exposure for MyRaceHorse, as they harness a platform that can be accessed on any device. Instantaneous reports flood off the screen. Workouts? Barn visits? Photo-ops? Baffert thoughts? They are all there for “your” personalized perusal. Going viral in the promotion of ventures like these makes even the owner of 1 share, feel like a major investor.
The allure of owning something, whether it be a piece of property or a Thoroughbred, has long-established roots in the past. Most potential holders are priced out because it is just too cost-prohibitive, but MyRaceHorse begs to differ.
What Behrens and his team have created is a democratic and affordable marketplace for dreams. As word spreads, the hope is that even the smallest shareholding can enlarge the scope of the sport.
That is the stuff that can save an industry. Now, it is on to the Preakness.