by Trey Nosrac
My work wardrobe is a Hawaiian shirt, beard and ponytail. One of my first riders was an inebriated businessman who fell into my Lyft car and mumbled, “Hey dude, you look like the guy on the Big Lebowski bowling team.” I did not know if he was referring to Jeff Bridges, Steve Buscemi or John Goodman. He started snoring before I could ask.
Most of my passengers probably pigeon-hole me as a person with no real job, no money, and a non-traditional lifestyle. Few passengers will type cast me as a person who makes a significant annual investment in livestock. But I do. Each year, despite being fiscally challenged, I purchase a harness racehorse yearling.
Yearlings are not “smart” investments — they are dreams. And in the real world of dreamers, buying a harness horse yearling falls into the category of making a movie, selling a poem, opening a restaurant or singing a song. I’m betting you have heard something like this: “I’ve always thought about owning a harness horse but… well, I never took the plunge.”
Maybe you have spoken the above sentence yourself. Far be it from a guy who has a portfolio the size of a peanut to give investment advice, but I can give advice on dreams… always follow them. You probably have thought about buying a yearling. Somehow, not someday, I have purchased 10.
Taking a joy ride in harness race land does not come with a financial blueprint. For those of us in the huddled masses, buying, staking and training yearlings can be a heavy financial lift. To me, finding ways to get into a game where others believe that I do not belong can be as enjoyable as playing the game. My horses were financed in many ways — with crazy ideas, crazy partners, sweat equity, ownership groups, prioritizing expenses and crazy schemes. I am always looking for a new way to try again to find that world champion trotter.
For example, here is a funding blueprint that I may steal for my next yearling.
Paul Schrader, a fellow Ohioan, wanted to make a movie, a task much more complex and expensive than raising your hand for HIP #719, phoning a trainer, paying stakes fees and crossing your fingers.
How did Paul fund his movie dream?
He said, “Everything about this film was done outside of normal channels.”
What the hell does that mean?
“The idea came before we had the money. The film was written by a fellow dreamer named Bret Ellis. We found a producer to sign on for a song. I directed and we put up $30,000 each. We convinced people on Kickstarter to toss in $170,000.”
(Kickstarter is one of multiple on-line funding platforms for creative projects or start up businesses and perhaps a funding stream that I may dive into for potential yearling ownership).
In the movie world, funding under $200,000 is chump change, like buying a $1,000 yearling or raising a homebred in your garage. But the filmmakers made it happen, they were in the game.
Production of the film was a series of cutting corners on already cut corners. It was a microscopic budget, there was no casting director, actors worked for a pittance after auditioning via “Let it Cast” (an online audition site), shots were stolen (filmed without permission), crew people brought equipment and creativity, and the actors drove themselves to film sites and did their own make-up.
The financing was a new model, much of it via digital media connections, but like 10,000 movie dreams before them – the film was made. Somehow and someway — not someday — the dream was realized.
The final product was panned. It was a flop. Even landing troubled actress Lindsay Lohan did not help. “The Canyons” reviews were thumbs down. It did find a distributor to take some of the sting out of the bottom line — but like harness racing yearlings, the odds of a home run on a shoestring are long. Win or lose, hit or flop, if you are a real dreamer you don’t really care all that much.
These guys found a way to take a swing at their dream. Once in the game, most want to play again. Most dreamers are wired that way.
I’m guessing that a lot of you have dreams of harness yearling ownership and also say, “Someday.” Too many people keep waiting till the time is right. They end up like the lyrics from a Steve Earle song. Give it a listen and watch the video.
Someday I’m finally gonna let go
‘Cause I know there’s a better way
And I wanna know what’s over that rainbow
I’m gonna get out of here someday
Now my brother went to college cause he played football
I’m still hangin’ round cause I’m a little bit small
I got me a 67 Chevy, she’s low and sleek and black
Someday I’ll put her on that interstate and never look back
Harness racehorses? You want one, you can find a way. Someday could be tomorrow. For those who really want to pull onto that interstate – you can find an on-ramp.