Episode 8 of The Real Life Ventures and Adventures of Trey and Batman

Hammer Down

September 23, 2018

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The Real Life Ventures and Adventures of Trey and Batman

by Trey Nosrac

Episode 8

The auctioneer clacked his hammer, “Sold.”

He paused as the horse was lead off the stage, then began his rat-a-tat for the next yearling being lead to the stage. A woman approached us with a clipboard. My new partner signed the sales ticket.

I slapped his back and said, “Welcome to yearling ownership, horses are like mail-order brides, you’re not quite sure what you bought and they are very hard to return.”

He gave me a wry smile and said, “The adventure begins.”

“Signing that ticket may be the high spot. Every yearling is a wild ride to who knows where, and we all spend our share of time as roadkill on the harness racing highway.”

He asked, “Give me your ballpark figure on total costs for our yearling, from today until the end of the 3-year-old season?”

I nodded to lead him out of the noisy tent. We walked across the lawn towards the stall area. I pointed to a pair of red director’s chairs and grabbed a few Mountain Dews out of a cooler. All this time, I was doing some math in my head.

We sat and I finally answered, “Including our purchase price, if we go two years, ballpark… $40,000. But a million things can go right or go wrong with a baby horse.”

He asked me one of those weird questions, “Pick an illness that you do NOT want to get?”

“Like addiction, homelessness, or another wife?”

He shrugged, “Pick something more specific.”

“Bad things wait around every corner, how can I choose one?”

He nodded, “Exactly. All of us, especially the wealthy, find ourselves bombarded with heartfelt requests from charities. How do you choose one over the other? Giving away money efficiently can be more difficult than making money. Humor me and pick a charitable cause for my experiment.”

I leaned back and snapped the tab of the can, took a gulp, and answered, “Well, let’s stick with the harness racing world. I know a fellow named Teddy that we nicknamed Bear. Great guy, he’s a groom who has been in the harness racing game all his life. When he doesn’t have a horse to paddock, he sits in the grandstands with us. He has Parkinson’s disease. Teddy has insurance and his trainer has been a rock, but the whole thing stinks.”

“Okay, let’s use Parkinson’s.”

“For what?”

He kept up the questions, “Imagine that you drive me to the barn where Teddy works. I write a check and hand it to Teddy. What good does that do? Does it change his life? Does it cure the disease? Does it make his struggle with this illness easier or more tolerable?”

I shrugged, “Probably not much.”

“And writing checks does not feel good to me. It’s too random, too inefficient, too unfocused and not communal.”

“Where are you going with this? What does it have to do with the yearling?”

“People fortunate to be in my situation, we search for ways to USE our money, not just give it away. USE it.”

“You think you can USE the yearling to do something good?”

“I do. Your sport is perfect for my scheme. You have a fistful of assets such as live animals, excitement, risk, and open spaces. Many other parts of your sport have me fired up.”

“You think you can stretch the money you have earmarked for horse ownership?”

“I do.”

“You think it would be good for harness racing?”

“I do.”

“Obviously you’ve been working overtime with your millennium billionaire brain.”

“I have. I’m toying with a wild plan. Before I give you the specifics, let me give you some information based on some data I have been studying and put you in my shoes.”

“Information AND expensive new shoes, a win-win for me.”

“When wealthy donate money, say to Parkinson’s, most millennials do not like to write checks, giving like that is old school and inefficient. They like to be hands-on and make decisions. They like to participate and entice additional participation.”

“Batman, this is harness horseracing, we’re not in the fundraising business. In fact, you could call horse ownership and gambling on horses a fund-burning business.”

“My idea is not a fundraiser. This is an unusual use of a donation. The goal is to help the receivers, the Parkinson’s community, and not just financially. As a giver, I want to feel good about my endeavor. I want to try to create a useful prototype for other potential givers.”

“You don’t want your money to go down a rabbit hole?”

“Right, and I am optimistic that the experience could be a benefit to horseracing with little disruption to business as usual.”

“You’re just shooting from the hip.”

“No. There is data. The concept goes by several different names. One is ‘experience-driven charitable environment.’ Our only ask is that our audience gives us time, not money. The goal is a beta-tested plan that benefits all parties in the chain. Hopefully create a no-lose situation where engagement and partnerships are possible.”

“On the back of a yearling racehorse in a dinky sport?”

He nodded, “Trust me, I’m a professional.”

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