There will be an extra buzz at Ontario racetracks this summer, as the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association renews the highly successful New Owner Mentoring Program.
For an investment of $4,500, nine people will have the unparalleled opportunity to be mentored by Hall of Fame horseman Bill O’Donnell and trainer Dustin Jones as they select an Ontario-sired yearling from the fall sales and train it through the winter in preparation for the 2016 racing season.
“We’ll educate them about the ground-up stuff, the grassroots stuff,” explains O’Donnell. “They might be fans that go to the races, but haven’t seen this side before.”
In addition to his years of expertise, O’Donnell will also contribute $4,500 to the partnership, and the SBOA will boost the group’s initial operating fund to $60,000 through a $15,000 forgivable loan.
“That will allow the group to buy their yearling — and it has to be an Ontario-sired yearling sold at an Ontario sale — and then the first year is covered for training and staking and whatever,” explains SBOA Vice President Tammy McNiven.
Horses from the first 11 new owner groups ranged from Grassroots performers to Gold Final winners, earning from $27,000 to $500,000, but one yearling did not make it to the races and McNiven emphasizes that there are no guarantees.
“It’s not something where we say you are going to get your money back,” she notes. “It’s a learning experience.”
Several graduates of the New Owner Mentoring Program have put their education to work purchasing additional racehorses or breeding stock, including Adriano Sorella. A part of the 2008 Ten Most Wanted Stable — whose M G Home Run earned $31,084 under the tutelage of trainer Casie Coleman and mentor Rick Kostoff — Sorella went on to co-own 2013 Little Brown Jug winner Vegas Vacation.
“We have had some success stories over the years,” says McNiven. “We hope we can get people interested, get some new people involved.”
Detailed information and application forms for the 2015 New Owner Mentoring Program are available on the SBOA website (standardbredbreeders.com), or by contacting McNiven at 519-475-4276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(With files from SBOA)