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Racing Syndicates

By Matt Massey

Victor Cozzetti is among those locally who offer a way to cut costs, while still enjoying all the thrills and frills of horse racing

Sitting in the press box 32 years ago at Longacres, Vic Cozzetti could feel the excitement. He and his fellow media members wanted the thrill of owning a Thoroughbred racehorse.

No one really wanted to go it alone, but everyone wanted the experience. So, with Cozzetti leading the way, the group finally stopped talking and banded together to defray the expense of ownership. Twenty media members decided to form Media Stables and claim a racehorse.

“We had talked about Media Stables for a while, so finally we claimed a horse named Shooting Drake for $5,000,” said Cozzetti, then a public handicapper and today still touting picks as Victor “The Predictor” on his website, predictorsays.com. “I was the instigator on that deal. We lost him via claim in California for $25,000. We split up the money and saved $10,000 to re-invest and put that in some bonds.

“We bought a yearling for $8,000 and named him Media II. He was a nice colt, but he never broke his maiden.”

It was the start of a life as a syndicate manager for Cozzetti, who estimates he’s put together more than 100 successful ownership groups since he moved into it full-fledged in 1981.

“We try to make it a fun thing, and it’s not, ‘How much money am I going to make?’” Cozzetti said. “It’s about enjoying the horses. It’s fun to feed them carrots, watch them get saddled for the race and run. The ultimate goal is to have them win, but you’re not always going to get a horse like Jazznwithwindy, Exclusive Molly, Asummerforwindy or an Iron Lark Miss.

“It’s some extra excitement if you’re going to go to the races anyway. It’s a way to get your feet wet first without investing a lot of money.”

There are successes and failures in syndication, but when it’s a shared expense the failures become a little more palatable and less of a hit on the pocketbook.

“When I went into syndication, Barb’s Boy was one of the first I syndicated,” Cozzetti said. “It took him 27 times to break his maiden. I used to swear at him in the press box.”

On the flip side, there are successes like Cozzetti’s yearling purchase of Washington-bred Jazznwithwindy for $2,500 at the 1995 WTBA Winter Mixed Sale. The gritty mare went on to make $391,741 – most of it on the competitive California racing circuit – after getting claimed for $10,000 after 19 starts with Cozzetti’s then Susan Kaye Stables II.

“She was the big earner,” said Cozzetti of one of the best returns on investment in WTBOA sale history.

Stakes winner Iron Lark Miss ($75,120) and stakes-placed Captain’s Too ($78,122) were two runners of note for Cozzetti at Longacres. More recently, Cozzetti syndicate runners
Exclusive Molly ($115,773), Si Madre ($55,198), Vying High ($16,921) and Asummerforwindy ($75,399) have given thrills at Emerald Downs under Vic-Tory Stables. Exclusive Molly, a $4,700 yearling purchase at the 1999 WTBOA Winter Sale, was claimed for $32,000 after 21 starts with Vic-Tory Stables V and trainer Larry Wolf.

“It’s not so much the initial investment,” Cozzetti said. “With most people, it’s, ‘Can you handle the monthly assessments, the day money, ponying, vet bills and all that stuff?’”

Syndicate managers, like Cozzetti, take care of many details of horse ownership for the
group. In addition to selling of shares, they line up equine insurance if needed, send out monthly billing statements, provide weekly updates on the horse’s progress, keep a register of owners and number of shares, produce financial statements, keep all accounts up to date and distribute purse money.

Under his Vic-Tory Stables’ name, Cozzetti currently manages syndicates for two broodmares, two yearlings and two weanlings, as well as maiden three-year-old gelding Larrthestableguy, named after Cozzetti’s trainer Wolf.

Cozzetti and longtime shareholder David Cooke purchased the 2006 WTBOA Winter co-sales topper, a Mutakddim filly for $26,000. The filly is named Fall Forest and will make her three-year-old debut next season at Emerald Downs.

Cozzetti is currently syndicating a Private Gold—Big Headache yearling colt with a heart-shaped blaze on his forehead which was purchased by Wolf at the WTBA Summer Yearling Sale this past September. He still has some shares available. (The colt was consigned by the Washington Thoroughbred Foundation for Austin Rogers and is from the final
crop of the broodmare lease program.)

Joining a syndicate can help satisfy that urge to enjoy horse ownership. It also can defray what could become a costly venture if tackled alone.

In addition to Cozzetti, others locally who are involved in syndication of racehorses are: bloodstock agent Dana Halvorson, trainer Tim McCanna (Kings & Queens Stable and Quadrun Farms LLC), trainer Grant Forster, Benchmark Farm (Glenda Roberts), Mary Lou Griffin (Griffin Place), Vicki Potter with Donovan/Torres/Rising Star Stable II’s Courting
Seattle and Scott Gruender (horseplayersracingclub.com) . . . or one could make inquiries to a reputable trainer for recommendations on how to become involved.

The Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society (CTHS) of Ontario, Canada, is currently advertising its own campaign for syndication. They’ve started a new owner investment program with the slogan “Share The Cost, Enjoy All The Thrills.”

It could very well be, “Split the check, profit together.”

Matt Massey, a Maple Valley resident, has covered horse racing in the state of Washington for various publications since 1991, including the Thoroughbred Times, The Seattle Times and the former Valley Daily News in Kent. Massey was first introduced to the sport of horse racing when his father, Melvin, was the state veterinarian at Longacres in the late 1970s.

Published online March 30, 2011