Thoroughbred fans offered slice of ownership

Staff Writer

 PHOTOS COURTESY OF KENWOOD RACING PHOTOS COURTESY OF KENWOOD RACING An Oceanport stable is giving racing fans an opportunity to get in on the action of horse ownership without the hefty costs of purchasing a horse or the consistent expenses associated with it.

H. Robb Levinsky, co-founder of Kenwood Racing, said the Taste of Thoroughbred Ownership program allows investors to own 5 percent of a racehorse with a one-time fee.

“The impetus was just that there are a lot of people out there who love the excitement and action and fun of owning a piece of a thoroughbred, but it’s too expensive when you are talking $30,000 a year to maintain and the cost of buying a horse,” he said.

“So, a one-time payment of $7,000 or $8,000 is really appealing to a lot of people.”

He said the program, which began in 2011, builds on the pre-existing syndicate system that allows minority stakes in horses but also requires co-owners to make regular payments toward training costs and other expenses.

 H. Robb Levinsky, founder of Kenwood Racing, stands with one of his horses at Monmouth Park. Kenwood is offering thoroughbred fans a less expensive way to get into horse ownership with the Taste of Thoroughbred Ownership program. H. Robb Levinsky, founder of Kenwood Racing, stands with one of his horses at Monmouth Park. Kenwood is offering thoroughbred fans a less expensive way to get into horse ownership with the Taste of Thoroughbred Ownership program. “We say to people, instead of you constantly paying the bills and getting your share of the purses for the life of the horse, we bank all the money and give you a statement at the end,” Levinsky said.

“The only payment you make is that onetime payment at the beginning,” he added. “We’ve revolutionized the way people get into the business.”

Along with the possible financial benefits of ownership, each co-owner is treated like they are the majority owner of the horse, according to Levinsky.

“The whole fun of it is not just to own it, but to really have an owner’s experience,” he said. “We want people to feel like they are an owner so they get the whole deal.

“They come to the track in the morning and watch the horse train,” Levinsky said. “They can stand in the winner’s circle when the horse wins, they shake hands with the jockey, they talk with the trainer.”

He said each co-owner is assessed an additional $950 fee to pay for overhead that includes admission, private box seats, travel costs and other expenses.

Another difference between syndicates and the Kenwood program is that Kenwood does not allow co-ownership for individual horses.

“One of the things we do that is different than a syndicate is we don’t put one horse out there, because it is too much risk,” Levinsky said.

“Things could happen and the horse could get hurt and does not race, and the person says, ‘I put up $5,000 and didn’t see the horse run,’ ” he added. “That is not a pleasant experience.”

In the Taste of Thoroughbred Ownership program, two or three horses are bundled together for owners.

Kenwood, which is based at Monmouth Park, will always have the largest share of ownership in the horses. The stable will always own at least 25 percent of a given horse, but most often owns between 40 and 50 percent.

Each investor is required to fund exactly 5 percent of the cost to purchase the horses.

“It is only 5 percent of a horse, so we make everybody equal,” Levinsky said. “We didn’t want it to be, ‘You own 6 percent, I own 3 percent, and she owns 2 percent.’ ”

The program began with a group of four initial co-owners. Levinsky said there have since been 21 different ownership groups and a total of 53 individuals participating in the program.

Jack Czajkowski, a lifelong racing fan, said he became part of the inaugural group of owners as a birthday present from his wife. “I talked about owning a horse, and I never had the opportunity,” he said. “What attracted me to this program was this is an opportunity to own part of a horse and only have a one-time fee, and I can go watch them race.”

Czajkowski said he enjoyed his experience as co-owner so much that he left his position with a medical supply company in 2013 to become a consultant for Kenwood Racing. In September, he was named president and co-managing partner of the stables.

While his ascension may be atypical, he said the program offers an experience unlike any other.

“You get pretty much the advantages of being a co-owner of a horse for a one-time fee,” Czajkowski said. “In terms of the coowners, over 80 percent of the co-owners became co-owners in multiple groups.”

Levinsky cautioned those interested in the program to view it as something other than a moneymaking venture.

“That is the whole fun of it, and although you can make money — certainly, some groups have made some real money — we are not marketing it as an investment,” he said.

“We tell people up front, ‘If you are getting involved in the horses as an investment, you are doing the wrong thing, because there is just too much risk.’ ”

While participants are offered an owner’s experience, they are not permitted to be decision makers for the horse.

“When you do this, you sign a co-ownership management agreement and you are putting Kenwood in charge of all management,” Levinsky said. “Imagine 11 people debating who is going to ride the horse. … You are turning over all the control of the business to the majority owner. You are along for the ride.

“This is for people who are looking for entertainment and fun — they are not looking to run a business.”

In recent years, the state of New Jersey and Monmouth Park have sought to overturn a federal ban on sports betting, arguing that it would help fund the racing industry, which has struggled due to out-of-state competition and other factors.

Levinsky said the ownership program was put together to help the industry.

“The goal for us was never about money. It has been that we are owners and we want to revitalize the industry,” he said. “Our idea was to make the model really something that works for the end user.”

For more information about the ownership program, visit the website at