The Empire Racing Club is an initiative created by the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association to let you experience the thrills of racehorse ownership at minimal cost and no risk. New York’s beloved retired racecaller Tom Durkin will serve as managing partner.
Owning a racehorse can cost more than $50,000 a year, with no guarantee that your horse will ever make it to the starting gate. Membership in the Empire Racing Club gives you behind-the-scenes access and all the excitement at a fraction of the price. You will visit the backstretch, leaning on the rail with a cup off coffee while rubbing elbows with New York racing’s luminaries as your horse goes through his morning training. You will meet with your trainer and jockey in the paddock, getting a close-up look at the competition from the sidelines, rather than the stands. And, with racing luck, you will cheer your horse to victory and pose for a photo in the winner’s circle at one of NYRA’s beautiful racetracks!
Empire Racing Club membership open only to individuals who are not currently licensed as racehorse owners or trainers.
Proceeds from the Empire Racing Club, a not-for-profit tax-exempt social club, will be used to pay the expenses of the horse and the Club. Any excess funds will be distributed to a 501 (c) (3) non-profit aftercare organization. The Club membership agreement specifically names New York’s TAKE THE LEAD Thoroughbred Retirement Program as the designee.
Club members will receive regular updates about their horse via conference call, email and social media, and will meet with other members at dedicated Club events and race days. You will also learn about the Thoroughbred industry from the experts. Topics will include:
➢ The Basics of Horse Ownership: Licensing, credentials, stable names, silks, budgeting and bills
➢ So You Want to Own a Racehorse: Buying at the horse auctions
➢ The Claiming Game: How do you claim a racehorse?
➢ How to Train Your Racehorse: The basics of horse training
➢ Want to Bet? Handicapping and wagering 101
➢ Riding Into the Sunset: Equine aftercare
➢ And more!
EMPIRE RACING CLUB FAST FACTS:
- Based on first-come first-serve enrollment, the Club will be open to a maximum of 200 members, with a $500 annual membership fee. Currently licensed owners and trainers are NOT eligible to join.
- Registered as a 501 (c) (7) not-for-profit social club.
- The Club’s mission is to raise awareness of the sport of horse racing, and to create new fans, handicappers and horse owners.
- The Club is organized as a not-for-profit social club, and members do not join the Club with any profit motive or expectation of profit.
- Proceeds from the Empire Racing Club, a not-for-profit tax-exempt social club, will be used to pay the expenses of the horse and the Club. Any excess funds will be distributed to a 501 (c) (3) non-profit aftercare organization. The Club membership agreement specifically names New York’s TAKE THE LEAD Thoroughbred Retirement Program as the designee. If there is a profit, membership dues up to $500 may be reimbursed. That is the maximum that can be returned to members.
- Racing Club members will not have owner credentials, and will not be licensed by the Gaming Commission. We will be providing trips to the backstretch and event days at the track with a visit to the paddock, where the members will have all the access that owners do, but in a more supervised setting.
- Membership fees are NOT tax deductible.
As a perk, the Club will partner with NYRA Bets, which will offer a $200 Wagering Credit to members who sign up as new NYRA Bets account holders.
THE CLUB MANAGING PARTNER:
Tom Durkin was the voice of New York racing from Aug. 29, 1990 through Aug. 31, 2014. During a career over a span of 43 years, he called approximately 80,000 races. He was the voice of the Breeders’ Cup for its first 23 years. He also worked as an analyst, feature producer and commentator for over 20 years for both ESPN and NBC. In New York, he served on the board of the Backstretch Employee Service Team for 18 years. He is currently a Board member emeritus of that organization. He is the winner of numerous industry awards including the Eclipse Award of Merit, The Jockey Club Gold Medal, Big Sport of Turfdom, Thoroughbred Club of America Honoree, Saratoga Race Course Walk of Fame and ThoroFan Man Of The Year, among other awards. He is currently a resident of Saratoga Springs, New York.
THE CLUB TRAINERS:
Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Mark Casse grew up in Ocala, Florida. Mentored by his father, renowned horseman Norman Casse, Mark won his first race at Keeneland in 1979. He captured his first training title at the Churchill Downs Spring Meet in 1988, and also has won titles at Keeneland and Turfway. After serving stints as a private trainer to Calumet Farm and Mockingbird Farm, Casse joined forces with Eugene Melnyk and subsequently moved his operation to Woodbine Racetrack in Ontario, Canada in 1998. Since then, he has earned the leading trainer title at Woodbine 11 times, won 11 Sovereign Awards as the outstanding trainer and was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2016. Among his most notable horses are American champion turf mare and Royal Ascot winner Tepin; Canadian Horse of the Year Sealy Hill (2007); Canadian Classic winner and Horse of the Year Lexie Lou (2014); Breeders’ Cup winner and Canadian Horse of the Year Catch A Glimpse (2015) and Canadian juvenile champion filly Wonder Gadot, winner of the first two legs of Canada’s Triple crown in 2018. In 2019, he won his first American Classic with War of Will in the Preakness Stakes before taking the Belmont Stakes with Sir Winston later in the season.
Christophe Clement is the son of trainer Miguel Clement, and worked for the prestigious Luca Cumani, Alec Head and Shug McGaughey stables before going out on his own in 1991. A native of France, he has been one of the leading trainers in United States for over 25 years. Clement has won more than 2,000 races, including over 200 graded stakes, and guided the careers of three-time Eclipse winner Gio Ponti and 2014 GI Belmont Stakes hero Tonalist. Cumulative purse money earned by the Clement Racing Stable now exceeds $133 million. As a public trainer, Clement has acquired a reputation for meticulous attention to details. He takes pride in the horses under his care and personally trains each of them. He intentionally limits the size of his stable to a number that can be kept in just two locations at any point in time. He is also very fortunate to have a great team around him from all corners of the world, including Christophe Lorieul, his assistant since 1993. Clement was a 2020 nominee to racing’s Hall of Fame.
Linda Rice not only the leading female trainer in the nation, but is one of the top trainers on the very competitive NYRA circuit. The third-generation horsewoman has won training titles at all three New York tracks, including becoming the first woman to win the Saratoga title. Rice has conditioned the likes of champion La Verdad, MGISW Palace, who she claimed for just $20,000, and Grade I winners Voodoo Song, City Zip, Princess Violet, Things Change and Tenski. She recorded her 2000th career victory with Scilly Cay in the Rego Park S. in January, 2020 and won her 200th stakes race with Max Player in the GIII Withers S. Born in Wisconsin and raised in Pennsylvania, Rice is the daughter of legendary horseman Clyde Rice, who is one of the original pinhookers and was known for having an exceptional eye for a horse. Clyde grew up alongside trainer D. Wayne Lukas and purchased and broke several of the Hall of Famer’s top runners, many of whom Linda galloped for her father. After spending her life galloping and assistant her father, Rice took out her license in 1987 and started with a small string at Monmouth Park before moving to New York full time about 25 years ago. She is a member of the NYTHA Board of Directors and chair of the NYTHA Scholarship Committee.
Todd Pletcher, one of the most successful horsemen in racing history, was the first to train one of the Empire Racing Club runners. Born in Texas in 1967, Pletcher learned the horse business from his father Jake Pletcher and later apprenticed under Hall of Fame legend D. Wayne Lukas. He saddled his first winner in 1996 and quickly established himself as one of the stars of the game. In 1998, the Dallas native earned the first of 13 (to date) training titles at Saratoga; in 1999, he garnered the first of his 13 Belmont titles during the Spring Meet. He notched the first of a record seven Eclipse Awards in 2004, when his stable stars included Breeders’ Cup winners and champions Ashado and Speightstown. Fittingly, his first winner of a Triple Crown race came in 2007 when the filly Rags to Riches outfought Curling to win the Belmont Stakes. He has since saddled two additional winners of the Belmont, with Palace Malice taking the “Test of the Champion” in 2013 and Tapwrit winning in 2017. Pletcher’s first Kentucky Derby triumph came courtesy of Super Saver, and he added another win in the “Run for the Roses” in 2017 with Always Dreaming. Those are just some of the highlights in a career that has already seen him win over 4,800 races. His runners have amassed more than $388 million to date, and they finish in the top three—“in the money”—52 percent of the time. He resides in nearby Garden City.
THE CLUB HORSES (Click on the photo for more information):
For more information, call us at (516) 488-2337, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Empire Racing Club Board of Directors
Christina Bossinakis, Empire Racing Club Coordinator
Kathy Locke, NYTHA Membership Services Coordinator