Bobby Zen

If you consider yourself a baseball fan and are of a certain vintage, the term Iron Horse will conjure up thoughts of one of the most legendary baseball players to ever grace the diamond: The Iron Horse himself, Lou Gehrig. Jonathan Eig, author of Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig, described the term Iron Horse as “a type of courage to persevere and to keep yourself going and to never give up.”

Harlan Malter, Founder and Managing Partner of Ironhorse Racing Stable is a self-proclaimed sports fanatic and played college baseball at New York’s Columbia University.

“I enjoyed going out to Saratoga each summer with my family. It is one of the reasons that makes Saratoga extremely special,” recounted Malter. “As a sports fan, horse racing was simply part of that landscape for me. Seattle Slew in 1977 and Alydar in 1978 got me hooked. New York racing really captivated me. Whenever I had time between school and baseball, you could find me at the closest New York City OTB or track.”

When uncovering more about Harlan Malter, you begin to see dichotomies reveal themselves. These include his love of New York, even though he grew up in Boston; and the most obvious being that while one of his heroes, Lou Gehrig, was known as a man of few words, Harlan Malter is not. His passion for racing erupts out of him like a volcano and when he opines, his words are often both insightful and inspiring.

“Only sports can produce things like a last-minute field goal, a three-point buzzer beater, or a walk-off home run,” he says. “Horse racing is one of those sports. The moment your horse enters the gate or crosses the wire produces one of those feelings. You can’t make that feeling up.”

Those feelings are shared by the over 165 partners with Ironhorse Racing Stable, including Beth Shireman, who just returned from visiting one of her horses in the stable area at Churchill and watching her horse Indy Magic break his maiden at first asking at Keeneland.

“Connecting with these horses is one of the best parts of being part of this partnership,” Shireman says. “I have access to the farms and stable areas for visits. They will steal your heart. You get to know your horse very well and feel like a proud parent on race day.”

Zach Silka, who started following racing as a horseplayer and recently witnessed his horse Kid Cairo break his maiden on debut and then saw his other horse Beauty of the Sea win the Golden Beach Handicap at Gulfstream the very next day, reflects this common theme.

“The people and the horses are the best parts of Ironhorse Racing Stable,” he said. “Harlan is our fearless leader, our trainers are great, and meeting so many other partners from around the country who are passionate about horse racing has been a cool experience. Then, to have your horses run on consecutive days at the same track, let alone to win both races, was something I could have never expected.”

You cannot profile Harlan Malter or Ironhorse Racing without highlighting Bucchero, the original iron horse for the stable. The $43,000 2-year-old purchase went on to make 31 starts and win over $947,000. He knocked down the GII Woodford S. twice, in 2017 and 2018. The Indiana-bred phenom also took Malter to the GI Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint twice and all the way across the pond to Royal Ascot.

“My first win as a racehorse owner was a four claimer at Penn National,” said Malter. “Then came Bucchero. He took me to tremendous places. I couldn’t have imagined getting to run in the Breeders’ Cup and Royal Ascot.”

Those experiences were the inspiration for Ironhorse Racing Stable, said Malter.

“We started slowly as a small group of friends. After having Bucchero, we wanted to create a syndicate that could compete at the national/global level that was built with the partners’ interests as the priority. This is how we developed the `No Markup’ model. We wanted to differentiate ourselves from other national syndicates by building partnerships that reflected a true ownership experience. As a sole owner, I went to the sales and paid the auction price for the horse, not a penny more. I wanted to be able to give this same opportunity to our partners. So, we typically assemble our partners before the sales and then go and buy the best possible horse within our budget. This is how typical owners buy horses, and there is no reason partnership participants can’t have that same opportunity.”

Silka was drawn to how the partnerships were constructed.

“I wasn’t interested in micro shares or joining a syndicate that marked up the sale price of the horse. I wanted a true partnership experience and to learn as much as I could about the horse ownership side of things,” he says.

The Ironhorse Racing partnership closely reflects how Malter’s other business, financial planning, works.

“We don’t mark up stocks like brokers did 20 years ago. We now align our interests with our clients. If the portfolio grows, we will all make more money. I wanted to bring that model to horse ownership. We look to buy value, pick our spots, always be opportunistic, and maximize every single dollar.”

Ironhorse is compensated for its management by retaining 10% of all earnings and 10% of the proceeds when the horse is sold. Other costs are a straight pass-through to the penny. By incorporating the tools offered by, each partner receives an invoice just as if her or she were a full owner, broken down in accordance with their percentage ownership.

Partner Robbie Estes said he found this approach very appealing.

“Both my wife and I are retired CPAs,” said Estes. “The Ironhorse financial model makes sense to me. Horse ownership is expensive. Harlan Malter’s approach makes it understandable, as predictable as possible, and efficient.”

When asked about who a good prospect for the partnership group is, Malter replied, “Partners who are looking to run on the national level with a group that gives them the opportunity to buy exactly the way they would if they went to a sale to buy a horse 100% on their own. We pride ourselves on communication, with a dedicated portal where we provide the same type of trainer communication an owner would get if they owned the horse themselves.”

Since 2007, Malter and Ironhorse Racing have put together a team of trainers across the country and have recently put their first horse in training in the United Kingdom. Trainers like Mark Casse, Joe Orseno, Doug O’Neill, Michael Trombetta, Kelsey Danner, and James Ferguson in the United Kingdom are part of the team that keeps over 25 horses in the stable producing for its partners.

“Utilizing a network of farms and training centers to help develop our purchases and breed some solid homebreds has kept the winners’ circle photos coming,” commented Malter.

Ironhorse’s model focuses on yearlings and 2-year-olds. You can find the Ironhorse silks breaking from starting gates in just about any racing jurisdiction. The current star of the stable is Get Smokin (Get Stormy).

“He won the $1.7-million GII Kentucky Turf Cup last year. He is our type of horse…a hard-knocking runner who shows up every time. We also have 3-year-old stakes winner Mattingly (Bucchero), stakes winner Beauty of the Sea (Bucchero), and many promising 2-year-olds in the pipeline,” said Malter.

Multiple opportunities at various price points is what drew Shireman into the group.

“Harlan purchases horses from various sales in the U.S. and Europe–yearlings, 2-year-olds-in-training, broodmare prospects. I can pick my favorite, or mix and match. I choose my own adventure within a budget I am comfortable with.”

Besides success on the racetrack, communication and education have also played a significant role in the growth of Ironhorse. With a robust social media presence, dynamic website, and the use of technology-driven applications like Slack and Horsebills, Malter can deliver a modern racehorse owner experience.

“Along with learning the ins-and-outs of their individual horses, they receive updates on the entire stable,” he explained. “We give insights on each horse, race strategy, development plans, etc. We are all owners of these horses, and we want each partner to feel part of the process from that perspective, not just coming along for the ride.”

There are millions of sports fans across the world, but few get to participate on the field, court, or rink. As Malter so poignantly stated about the uniqueness of owning a Thoroughbred racehorse, “You never know where a horse can take you.”

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The post Partnerships: Ironhorse Racing Stable, Presented by Taylor Made Partnerships appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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