Ridiculous NJ licensing hassle and cost a deterrent to fractional owners

by Garnet Barnsdale

For a fractional owner who has been involved in horse ownership for five years, having a filly that was thought good enough to contest a Grand Circuit race at The Meadowlands was about as exciting as it gets… heck, Buzzworthy even.

But my elation was soon turned to agony when I was informed that I would be required to purchase a New Jersey licence prior to the race and supply FBI fingerprints. Learning what I have in the past five years about individual jurisdictions licencing requirements, I was very careful this year to purchase percentages that do not require licences.

As a client of TheStable.ca, it all starts out for me in Ontario, where we are required to buy the AGCO license for one per cent or greater ownership. Being that all of The Stable’s horses train down in Ontario and qualify at Ontario tracks, licencing fees of $100/year are always required. We must also purchase Standardbred Canada memberships which, thankfully, have been reduced for fractional owners.

So I’m already in the hole, let’s say $150. If I own one per cent of a racehorse, I need that horse to earn $15,000 over and above all training and racing costs just to be even – which can happen, but you see how these costs will quickly add up if you now add another jurisdiction’s licencing costs. SO, I do my best to avoid the additional cost.

What makes the whole thing infuriating is when you start to do more math. There are 28 individual owners of our horse, the wonderful filly from the first crop of Sebastian K, Knockdown Dragout. $50 each for the licence would mean that to race this filly in the Jim Doherty Memorial elimination would cost us $1,400 (U.S) in licencing, not to mention the cost of finger printing for each of the 28 owners which is surely more than $50.

Make no mistake, this is not an ad for TheStable.ca. I have had ups and downs as a client, same as any owner would in racing, but I have had a generally enjoyable time and a few thrills. That’s what keeps most of us coming back.

The point of this column is to express my frustration and anger over these ridiculous licencing requirements. Our filly may never race in New Jersey again for all I know. Is it fair that as owners, we were force to pay upwards of $3,000 to race their once? What about an owner that is sitting in his home on another continent watching the race – and trust me, The Stable has several overseas clients – that was required to fork out this dough. Do you think he has a warm fuzzy feeling still?

Our filly broke at the start and we live to fight another day, but that has nothing to do with the writing of this column. I indicated my intent to submit this content much earlier in the week to HRU’s editor.

There is no way to describe this experience as infuriating and I won’t even get into the fiasco I went through trying to scan the form which apparently needed to be printed on 11 x 14 paper first. The more people talk and write about getting new blood involved in the game, provides even more reason to get this ridiculous process fixed.

Here’s a simple solution: If you are part of a fractional ownership group, the group pays one licencing fee to be eligible to race the horse. That gives the individual fractional owners NO rights or privileges to enter the paddock etc. It just gets the horse in races. Any owners that want those privileges can purchase a full licence. This process would have worked perfectly in the case of us racing Knockdown Dragout. I mean, most of the owners likely will never be in New Jersey ever.

Do they really need to answer questions like: “Has your wife ever been convicted of bookmaking crimes,” and, be required to buy fingerprints?

This need to get fixed or guys like me are going to drop out one by one. It’s hard enough to break even in this sport as an owner. You can’t make it impossible.