by Trey Nosrac
Last December, an Internet banner led me to an epiphany that solved a problem for me and might solve a problem for you. I bought a share of fractional ownership in a harness horse yearling, one of my better decisions in harness racing.
Exchanging Christmas gifts is time-consuming and expensive, but we feel pressured into the tradition. For me, receiving gifts is uncomfortable. My friends and family are well-intentioned, but I chafe at doing a kabuki dance of glee about how my new garlic press will bookend last year’s Christmas gift of a basket with 17 varieties of hot taco sauces.
My sloth-like tendencies found me approaching last Christmas without gifts. The fractional ownership program that I recently purchased gave me an idea. Why not split my share into five micro-shares and pass them out as Christmas gifts?
These gifts would eliminate shopping. The unusual gifts would have legs and be better than juicers and sweater vests. Better still, I would not need to leave my couch or crawl around the netherworld of my junk closet searching for wrapping paper tubes. No returns. No festive crowds. Just five beautiful Christmas cards with an explanatory note, “Merry Christmas – you now own a tiny fraction of a harness racehorse.”
None of the recipients I selected for this unorthodox gifting were harness racing fans. Despite some confusion upon opening the cards, they appeared happy to receive the tiny slice of equine ownership. They were (are) a mixed bag of sexes and ages. I am sure a few giftees first thought this was a gag gift (my specialty) or a regift (another of my specialties). Others believed there would be strings attached to the ownership gift.
The only string attached to this gift was my subtle effort to recruit new members to our ranks. I waited for a few months before following up on the unusual gift, hoping that eliminating the long winter would be a plus. I decided to bring them up to speed closer to the stakes racing season.
In early spring, I sent them this:
Hello, Katie (Sean), JD (Katie Ann), Bobby (Allie), Mindy (Tony), Terri (Jim)
This email is to clarify the gift card you received at Christmas, a card that said you now own a small percentage of a racehorse, $100 worth. The gift was legit and not just a ruse for me to get out of shopping.
You will also find photographs of the horse that we will follow this year, information about the family history of our steed, and some interesting additional information. Soon I will send you a video of your horse preparing for the season, and a few videos show what it is like to sit on the bike behind the horse.
The idea is straightforward.
You have a small fractional interest in this racehorse. At the end of the year, the earnings will be totaled and returned to you. For example, if this is a “break-even horse,” you will get your original $120 back. If the horse loses money, you get less back. If it turns a profit, so will you.
Your ownership is off the books. Your ownership is a freebie, a gift. You do not need to bother with tax forms, licenses, or anything else. You will not need to pay a dime. All you need to do is watch the races and hopefully earn money (BTW, in a horse race, the top FIVE finishers earn money).
I am working on a plan to let you know how to log onto my gambling site account, where you can watch the races live or watch replays. I will also scribble a few notes to teach you about the races you are watching, a mini tutorial.
The off-season for racehorses is almost over. In April, the yearling (one-year-old horse) purchased at a fall auction is now two years old and training in hopes of *qualifying to compete for money in June.
*Qualifying is a race in front of racing officials where each horse must complete the mile in a prescribed time to prove it is worthy of racing for money. Once they complete this task, it’s off to the races.
I realize most of you use text messages, while I prefer email. Let’s try this. I will send each member a group text letting you know that you have an email in your box (just like today).
For now, please send me back an email to show me that you are in the loop.
Soon you will be racing.
So, to recap, I hooked on to a fractional ownership group. Then I carefully selected potential prospects to join at zero cost, hoping this free, guided tour of the world of harness racehorse ownership and gambling would find some return visitors.
The experiment was super easy and engaging for all concerned. It was much better than my usual choice of gifts. Should your Christmas shopping list be long and your idea list short, rounding up a posse of prospects for partial and free participation in harness horse racing is an option to consider.