Wasabi Ventures Stables is adding new owners and fans to the game.
By Mike Valiante
Twenty-four months ago Tom Kuegler (TK) started Wasabi Ventures Stables with a twofold mission statement. One, introduce 3,000 new members to having a financial and rooting interest in a horse. Two, establish a platform for these people that is completely honest and open that also provides an education in the game of horse racing. The mission is well on its way and when you talk to TK it is apparent that his interesting background and drive is what is spearheading the venture.
For those interested in participating I would refer you to https://www.wasabistables.com for the specifics. The Readers Digest version of the basic program is that for the cost of a good meal for two, Wasabi Stables offers participation in the ownership side of the game. There are no ongoing costs or risks over and above the initial small investment. The venture is run like a business so the potential of profit exists. Many members remain at this initial level but the venture has also been successful in promoting the sport to the point where some members have increased their participation both inside and outside the Wasabi Stables umbrella.
TK first learned the game from his great-grandfather who began to work in the industry at the bottom rungs as a way of surviving the depression. He progressed to being a trainer and ultimately remained in the game to his 60’s, and lived to his 90’s, thus enabling him to impart his racing experiences to a young TK. TK remained a fan and made a promise to himself to get into the game when he reached a certain financial level in his life. His first step was to join a dozen syndicates around the country and immerse himself in order to learn. When he started Wasabi Stables he interviewed trainers to find out who he could work with. All of this work was related to his belief that “you cannot manage anything in life unless you understand all aspects of the business”.
When he first introduced the idea of “low cost participation” some insiders were standoffish and questioned how he would manage the process. His knowledge of the software industry easily solved that problem. They also predicted that the stable would go the way of many new owners, where the money drain would chase him out of the game. The stable like any good business has succeeded by managing expenses. From a racing standpoint the horses have been properly spotted and in 2018 with these tactics and a little luck the stable actually made money.
The growth in members have come from all over the country even though to-date the stable has primarily operated in the mid-Atlantic region. The stable had a presence at Oaklawn this spring and one of the short-term plans is to claim some horses to bring back for the upcoming Delaware Park meet.
He anticipates continued membership growth from one of three segments. First, the people who are interested in the basic investment who purchase a percentage on a lower level claimer. Second, an intermediate group that wants to buy into a horse who has the opportunity to run in a good Saturday afternoon race. Lastly, a group of members who have come along and want to take the opportunity to buy a larger percentage of a horse and pay some ongoing fees as a stepping stone to becoming an owner in their own right.
His business acumen led him also to give some thought on what was important, not only for his stable but the racing business in general. His “attack the bookends” philosophy is rooted in his belief, that if racing can get more owners and increase the handle many of the games other problems will be solved. This strategy seems particularly important to the overall health of the game as noted in a number of articles that have been published on this site “Past the Wire” following the recent events in California.