Bobby Zen

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Every one of the 2,570 partners in MyRacehorse’s Seize the Grey (Arrogate) has a story about their GI Belmont S.-bound Preakness winner.

Or three.

Or six.

Truth be told, probably more.

They are co-owners, albeit with micro shares that cost a mere $127, of the winner of a Triple Crown race, who will try to add a second jewel on Saturday when the 156th Belmont is run for the first time at Saratoga Race Course. They are part of a movement begun 55 years ago by the late Cot Campbell, to offer fractional ownership of thoroughbreds.

The MyRacehorse concept makes ownership possible for even more people. Formed in 2018 by Michael Behrens, MyRacehorse had a huge early success during the summer of 2020 when it was able to buy into subsequent 2020 GI Kentucky Derby and GI Breeders’ Cup Classic winner with Authentic (Into Mischief).

MyRacehorse officials expect between 300 and 400 of the Seize the Grey partners will be on the grounds when the oldest Triple Crown race is staged at America’s oldest track.  The Belmont will be run at Saratoga this year and next while Belmont Park undergoes a substantial makeover.

Deborah and Stephen Durso, residents of Long Beach on Long Island, figure they have been racing fans for about 50 years.

“We’ve been visiting Saratoga for 30 years because of the racetrack,” Deborah said.

The Dursos own property in Saratoga and have been involved in other partnerships. Seize the Grey was their first purchase with MyRacehorse. They have four shares, and have since bought into two other horses as well as a package of four New York-breds.

They watched Seize the Grey’s gate-to-wire triumph in the Preakness on television. When GI Kentucky Derby winner Mystik Dan was making a run at Seize the Grey in the stretch, the Dursos were on their feet.

“We were screaming, ‘stay up there. Don’t let him pass you,’” she said.

Though they were miles from Pimlico, the Dursos were celebrating the triumph.

“I like to say to people, ‘think of your son hitting a home run in the bottom of the ninth,’” Stephen said. “That’s literally how it felt.”

As veterans of other partnerships, the Dursos said the MyRacehorse approach works just fine for them.

“You might get into a partnership where you need $50,000,” he said. “In this, it was fun, you made a little money and it’s exciting like you own the horse all by yourself.”

The Dursos watched Seize the Grey break his maiden at Saratoga on July 29 and participated in the owner’s experience, visiting the colt at trainer D. Wayne Lukas’ barn. Before he emerged as a Triple Crown series-caliber runner they had purchased their tickets for the Belmont-at-Saratoga week.

“We were hoping that he would be here in one race or another for this weekend or the summer,” Stephen said. “Then when he won the Pat Day Mile, and then he won the Preakness and now he’s in the Belmont, it’s just as good as it gets.”

Amanda Stebbins could very easily be the face of a MyRacehorse marketing campaign. Besides the single share in Seize the Grey, she has a stake in 43 other horses.

Stebbins, a resident of nearby Malta, N.Y., joined the MyRacehorse party in the summer of 2020 with the purchase of two shares in Authentic. She dove in a little deeper just before the won the Kentucky Derby by purchasing eight more shares. She says her investment in a colt who went on to be the 3-year-old male champion and Horse of the Year was about $2,000.

“I bought in right before he ran in the Haskell and won,” she said. “He was already pre-qualified for the Derby and I said, ‘I have a horse going to the Kentucky Derby.’ Of course, this is the year of COVID. No one’s going anywhere. I’m telling all my friends and family and everybody’s getting excited. On September 5, he goes into the Derby and my parents said, ‘are you going to be upset if he loses?’ I said, ‘I will only be upset if they van him off the track.’ I said, ‘I don’t care. ‘I have a horse in the Derby.’ And we went right to the lead and held the lead the entire time. That was fantastic. Of course, that stretch run with Swiss Skydiver in the Preakness was amazing. And then going to the Breeders’ Cup Classic and winning. He still holds a track record at Keeneland. That was wonderful.”

Stebbins figured she had reached the peak of her career as an owner with Authentic.

“You think, ‘lightning strikes once and that’s it,’” she said, laughing. “Then when (Seize the Grey) came into the stable, he was a yearling, and I had an opportunity to purchase into him. I saw that Wayne Lukas was going to be his trainer. And I said, ‘Man, the Coach knows what he’s doing.’ So I bought in.”

Stebbins said MyRacehorse is very appealing to her because the company does not charge owners anything beyond the initial share price. She also likes the social aspect of meeting other owners and having opportunities to meet the horses and trainers.

In her professional life, Stebbins is the Lead Manufacturing Process Engineer at Ball Metal in Saratoga Springs. She said the facility produces nine million aluminum cans a day.

Stebbins and her husband were in New York to start a cruise when the Preakness was run. She thought about making the drive to Baltimore for the race, but decided she was cutting it too close. By then, she had already purchased her tickets for the Belmont at the hometown track she has been visiting for a decade.

“I’m like, ‘What are the odds that the Belmont would be at Saratoga, 20 minutes from my home?” she said. “I have a horse in the Belmont with a very good chance of winning the Belmont. And he won the Preakness. When you start looking at those odds and those probabilities, it’s absolutely amazing. I’m very happy that I booked myself for all four days to be here at the track.”

Bryce and Shayla Teater of Little Rock, Ark. had hoped to see Seize the Grey run in the Belmont, but had to change plans and will watch it at home. They missed the Preakness, too, but have a memorable story about their seeing the race while on a flight to Greece. The Teaters were in window seats with Shayla in the row in front of her spouse. They bought separate Wi-Fi package because they were seated apart.

“Twenty-five bucks each to watch this and we weren’t even sure if it would work because plane Wi-Fi, especially over the ocean, isn’t that dependable,” he said. “But we have YouTube TV, and we were both able to stream it.”

Seize the Grey | Sarah Andrew

As Mystik Dan tried to overtake Seize the Grey in the stretch, Bryce reached forward.

“I just started shaking my wife’s shoulder, and she started jumping up and down. Both of us screamed,” he said. “If you’ve flown overseas, it was right after dinner when everyone is trying to go to sleep. I remember looking over when we had our hands in the air and yelled and everyone is staring at us. An older couple was next to me and I said, ‘I’m sorry, I own a micro share of this horse and he just won the Preakness.’ He said, ‘you’ve got to be kidding.’ I said, ‘No, I’m not.’”

Teater said he and his wife became much more interested in racing during the pandemic when it was one of the few sports on television. She is the news director at the CBS affiliate in Little Rock and he is a product marketing director for the software company Datapath. They have been with MyRacehorse for a few years and have shares in 13 active horses.

When Seize the Grey goes to the post in the Belmont, the Teaters will be in a more familiar place where they won’t have to explain if they stand and shout at the TV.

“We’re going to have a little get together here with my parents and friends and try and will him to victory,” Teater said. “It’ll be definitely a tougher test this time around, but I think he’s got it.”

Ken and Mary Myers traveled to Saratoga for the Belmont from their home in Naples. Fla. They are major investors in MyRacehorse and also personally have a big stake in Seize the Grey. Myers said he liked the plan Behrens developed.

“It’s a spectacular opportunity to show people what horse racing is like, beyond what they see when they watch the Derby, or the Preakness or the Belmont Stakes, and maybe that’s all they ever see,” Myers said. “There’s so much behind the scenes. And what we’re doing in MyRacehorse is giving people that emotional attachment to really being able to own a piece of a horse, sharing the winnings, sharing the experience, just really revel in what this is all about.”

The Myers faced a dilemma when Seize the Grey won the Pat Day Mile on May 4 and Lukas said the Preakness was up next on May 19. That was the date of their goddaughter Molly Meadows’ wedding.

“We thought, ‘We can’t miss the wedding. But at the same time, the Preakness is potentially a once in a lifetime,” Myers said. “Our goddaughter and her fiancé said to us, ‘listen, we could see you anytime, you’ve got to go to the Preakness.’ They actually stopped the wedding reception and all watched the race. It was an incredible time for them as well.”

Myers said the noting the number of partners in Seize the Grey only tells part of the story if its impact.

“People have said to me, ‘Think about 2,750 people now are getting the experience.’ I said ‘No, each one of them has a partner and kids and friends and family. There are tens of thousands of people that are following Seize the Grey and that’s what the sport really needs. It needs this type of publicity, and it’s bringing it to a whole new generation of fans.

The post All Eyes on Seize the Grey for MyRacehorse Partners appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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