From the Sport of Kings to everyman’s game

Jan 13, 2019 Jennifer Caldwell/

It is common knowledge that one does not enter horse racing to make a fortune; instead one must have a fortune to enter horse racing.

Or must they?

Horse racing has always been known as the Sport of Kings, and not just for the majesty of feeling it engenders. The time, resources and capital required to successfully breed, raise and train a Thoroughbred to the races has been, and still is, beyond the means of the average fan.

That all changed thanks to one man. In 1969, W. Cothran “Cot” Campbell founded Dogwood Stable and the idea of forming partnerships to race was born.

Dogwood Stables pioneered the concept of multiple people joining together and spreading the expense of ownership. This has allowed everyday racing fans to experience the thrill of sitting in an owner’s box and cheering on a horse they own, or at least own part of.

Since Campbell’s innovative idea, other organizations have jumped at offering an affordable racing experience, and the trend has gone global. Other well-known stables that form partnerships include Team Valor (owner/breeder of 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom), Starlight Racing (one of the parties involved in Team Justify), Donegal Racing, Centennial Farms, West Point Thoroughbreds, Magdalena Racing, and Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners (which merged with Dogwood in 2013), just to name a few.

However, private individuals and groups weren’t the only ones who ran with the idea of putting the ownership dream within reach. Churchill Downs has stepped up to showcase the sport in a new way.

In 2016, Churchill kicked off the Churchill Downs Racing Club, a non-profit organization offering 200 people the opportunity to buy into a racehorse. The cost was only $500 per person, totaling $100,000 in all to cover the purchase and expense of running a race horse. That first horse turned out to be Warrior’s Club, who has gone on to be a Grade 3 winner and earn more than $700,000 on track.

Each year since, a new iteration of the Churchill Downs Racing Club comes into existence, broadening the scope even more. Other CDI properties have also launched their own Racing Clubs, including Fair Grounds and Arlington Park.

The joys of racing a Thoroughbred are no longer reserved for the wealthy and elite. A multitude of voices, from all walks of life, has joined the chorus shouting for their runners to hit the wire first.

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