How Much Does a Racehorse Cost?

Hello, there! Last night my youngest son asked me an innocent question, “can Santa come on any other day other than Christmas? I didn’t want to break his heart but I was also not going to lie, so I politely said, no but I can buy you a belated Christmas present.

I don’t know if this happened to remind me of my childhood riding days or what? But this little conversation took me back to the days when I used to stupidly think, “Santa would get me a Racehorse as my Christmas present because I have been a good kid this year”

To be honest, I still wish to have a racehorse and even I’m struggling to save enough money to get one for myself. It has been on my bucket list for so long that I have lost count.

I keep checking from time to time how much they cost? What special care do they demand? And when I want to leave no stone unturned, everything I need to know about owning a racehorse.

Several horse breeds can come under the category of ” Race Horses” but the thoroughbred is usually taken as an incomparable racehorse. We have discussed thoroughbred earlier this year, but today I decided to give you a general idea of the total cost you have to bear to own any racehorse. 

All racehorse breeds pretty much take the same amount of money from your pocket. So, you can relate the information provided below with any of your favourite racehorse breeds. Without further ado, let’s discuss this in detail.

First of all, how much do the racehorses cost?

The racehorses are nothing like regular horse breeds, they are pretty much expensive and their cost depends on pedigree, physique, and conformation. 

On average the typical initial amount, you have to pay to get one racehorse as an ornament for your barn would be more or less $94,999. If you get lucky enough, you can get it on sale for about $76,612 as well.

Pretty expensive, don’t you think? But the price is fair for the extraordinary horse you are about to get in return. The story doesn’t end here, you have to save a noticeable amount of money each month to pay for the monthly upkeep expenses.

The upkeep cost of a racehorse

The racehorses are high-maintenance horses; this is the reason why they are out of reach for most of us. Sometimes, even if one is successful in managing enough money to purchase one, the annual upkeep cost makes them bury their wish. 

Feeding cost

The racehorses are usually fed two types of food; roughage(hay) and grains. They do not graze on average grass, their keepers rather arrange Timothy hay and Alfalfa grass to fulfill their needs. So, the feeding cost adds up to $20-30 dollars to a total monthly upkeep cost.

Training cost

Who forbids the racehorse from taking part in both small and large-scale horse races. To take these horses to the professional race, one has to get them trained. The most reputed training institutions are demanding $105 per day to train the horse. As per an estimate, the racehorse owners have to pay at least $34000 a year to get them trained for a professional horse race.


Shoeing is just as expensive as everything even if you are depriving your horse of the high-heeled Jimmy Choos. The average shoeing can make you pay between $100-400 a month.

Vet bills

The racehorses are probably the only horses that have to make an appearance at the vet clinic every other day. Since these horses have to take part in athletic activities every day, they get injured quite easily.

It’s hard to estimate the monthly vet bills, but the medications are expensive and the one anabolic steroids injection (that repairs the tissue after injury) can cost up to $60.

Jockey fees

For those who have no idea what this fee is about, the jockey fee is what the horse owner pays to the professional jockey to go along the horse in the race. The jockeys, depending on their experience, are charging $35-100 for their services.

Other costs for racehorses

There are some other costs as well that are directly associated with keeping and grooming a racehorse in your barn. Examples of the other unavoidable monthly and one-time expenses are transportation, insurance, legal fees, commission, and sales tax, etc. 

These costs vary from state to state so the person who knows the laws and traditions of the state well can only tell how much an aspiring racehorse owner should expect to save for these expenses. 

It’s hard to tell how much insurance and the legal fee you will be made to pay but typically, the sales tax is 10% of the sales price. Moreover, the Blacksmith, Dentist, and Chiropractor fee can be $80-100, $75, and $80.

The total annual upkeep cost

The racehorses, no matter what breed they belong to, are as expensive to keep as to get. Their total annual upkeep cost can go above $70,000

There is a smart way to own the horse 

The smart way to become the owner of a racehorse is through “partnership”. If the two-horse admirers show interest in owning the horse they can divide the $40,000 by 2 (20,000 each) to know how much they have to pay each year to be called ” a racehorse owner”.

Racehorse price

The factors that determine the price of a racehorse

It’s difficult to determine the price of a racehorse as it can be as low as $90,000 and high as several hundred thousand. Fusaichi Pegasus, the most expensive horse ever sold, was bought for nearly seventy million dollars. So, the below-mentioned factors can take up and bring down the purchase price.

  • Age
  • Pedigree
  • Reputation
  • Amount of money it has won
  • Racing record

Now, if you have decided to buy a racehorse with your retirement money or savings let’s help you in getting one.

How to Buy a Racehorse? 

No doubt, nothing is more satisfying than watching your horse walking down the victory track. To witness the victory you have to have a horse that can only be bought after a lot of hard work and careful planning.

Racehorses can be bought from auctions, through a syndicate, bloodstock agent, or by making an informed purchase.

All these options have their risks and rewards but a careful purchase can minimize the risks to a noticeable extent. Since racehorses can be bought through multiple means, the newbies are often seen looking for a buying guide.

The more experienced horse admirers prefer to buy the horse from a trader or dealer than a private seller as buying through a dealer/trader can help you have more legal protection. Buying a racehorse with the help of a syndicate is also rewarding as they do all the donkey work for you. The racehorses are also bought and sold privately.

In this brief buying guide, we will be discussing all the major most recommended ways of buying a racehorse. So, now you have got a general idea. Let’s move ahead and discuss everything in detail.

Buying a racehorse privately

Buying a racehorse privately is probably the easiest way of becoming the part or full owner of a racehorse but it’s risky. The risks of buying the racehorse privately can be minimized to some extent if the buying and selling party knows how to seal the deal legally. 

This, buying a racehorse privately, suits more the individuals that are planning to invest in only one horse. I would not recommend buying a racehorse privately if you are thinking of building a racehorse stable.

The professional horse dealers or traders gather the most reliable information about the racehorses but in the private purchase, you have to make sure the information being provided is truthful or not. However, despite all the risks of buying and selling a horse privately remains the advanced horse admirers’ favourite way.

Buying a racehorse through Auction

It’s the most expensive way of becoming a racehorse owner but still, wealthy stable owners take pride in buying the racehorse through auction. It costs several hundred thousand to millions to become a proud horse owner this way. 

The racehorses that are brought to the auctions are well-reputed and trained but the aspiring horse owners still need to know which type suits their needs more.

Buying a horse from the auction is also risky but most auctions do give you a chance to minimize the risk involved, by previewing the horses a day before the auction.

The more experienced horse owners consider the following auctions reliable for racehorse trading;

  • Goffs 
  • Graham Budd
  • Tattersalls

Most of the wealthy horse admirers find auctions more feasible as it gives them a variety of options to choose from. It saves the time and the cost of traveling they have to bear to find a perfect horse. 

However, auctions can be a great option for an individual who frequently visits such places for buying and selling and who knows the racehorse breed quite well. 

Buying racehorses from Yearling sales

Buying a racehorse from yearling sales is the most affordable way of becoming a horse owner. The yearling sale is conducted in autumn every year. The untrained racehorses are brought to the yearling sales where the buyers have to decide by the breeding, reputation, and appearance.

The horses that are bought to sell on the yearling sales are generally between one to two years of age. Since the horses are untrained, the buyers look for a well-muscled, stocky, well-balanced horse. 

Buying racehorses from Breeze ups sales

Breeze ups are often held in spring every year. In breeze ups, the horses between the two-three years of age are brought for sale. Like the yearling sales, the potential buyers judge the horses by their movement and appearance.

A majority of people believe that the yearling and breeze ups are nothing but torture for the young horses. Buying the horses from yearling and breeze ups are risky as well as because the young horses are pushed too hard to perform well. Who knows, how much time they will take to be mature enough to take part in the game.

Buying a horse through claiming race

Horses can also be bought through claiming races. The aspiring racehorse owners come to the claiming races with attention to buy one of the performing horses. The prices are established beforehand, the aspiring horse owner pays the price and walks away with owning the horse.

These were the most common ways of buying racehorses. All the above-mentioned ways of buying racehorses are expensive and risky, the buyer has to be the judge to minimize the risk involved. It’s hard for a naive person to buy a racehorse, so it’s better to take help or let someone share the burden with you.


Who can help in buying a racehorse?

Racehorses are mostly bought with the help of a syndicate or bloodstock agent. The horse admirers that have decided to share the ownership mostly contact the syndicate to seal the deal. 

A bloodstock agent is a person that can also help you in buying a racehorse. The bloodstock agent does all the donkey work of finding the racehorse that suits your needs and requirements.

The bloodstock agents know this industry more than anything as they visit the local auctions more often and are frequently involved in the deals.

What were the most expensive racehorses ever sold in history?

Owning a well-reputed racehorse is expensive in all senses and history is full of examples. Few racehorses had been sold for several million in the past. As per the data released in 2013, the following ten horses are recorded to be sold at the highest prices.

  • Plavius
  • Jalil
  • Imperial Falcon
  • Mr. Sekiguchi
  • Snaafi Dancer
  • Meydan City
  • Seattle Dancer
  • The Green Monkey
  • Shareef Dancer
  • Fusaichi Pegasus


Plavius was owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the emir of Dubai and the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates till 2006. This racehorse won $41.572 in the entire career. It was sold in Godolphin racing held in 2006 for $9.2 million. 


Jalil, the pure American-bred horse, started his racing journey with the maiden race held at Newmarket Racecourse when he was just two years old. Jalil also took part in the Godolphin race held in 2005 and was sold for 9.7 million dollars in the same race.

This thoroughbred horse continued racing for two years and retired adding $327,324 to the owner’s bank balance.

Imperial Falcon

The Imperial Falcon comes from the bloodline of Northern Dancer that is considered history’s most influential sires. The Imperial Falcon was sold to a wealthy British businessman called Robert Sangster in 1984 for $8.25 million.

Mr. Sekiguchi

Mr. Sekiguchi, another racehorse that is recorded in history as the most expensive racehorse, was sold to a Japanese businessman and chairman of the board at Venture Safe Net Inc. In 2004 for $8 million. 

Snaafi Dancer

Snaafi Dancer, a thoroughbred racehorse, even though he never took part in actual racing was sold to Sheikh Mohammed in 1983 for $10.2 million. 

The Snaafi Dancer was brought to auction for sale where Sheikh Mohammed won the bidding. The Snaafi Dancer disappointed the buyer because he was too slow to race and had fertility problems as well.

Meydan City

Meydan City was sold for $117 million in an auction conducted in 2006. Meydan City was bought by the Emir of Dubai. Meydan City won $1360 for the previous owner whereas he failed to make his new owner proud. 

Seattle Dancer

The Seattle Dancer was sired by the British Triple Crown winner Nijinsky. Several wealthy parties were interested in buying Settle Dancer so it was sold for the highest bid, $13.1 million. Seattle Dancer is considered the modest racing horse in the books of history.

The Green Monkey

The Green Monkey was sold for $16 million when he was just two years old. The Green Monkey though failed to bring a proud smile to the horse owner’s face, so the retirement was declared after just three races. Later, the horse owner started offering him for breeding for $5000.

Shareef Dancer

Shareef Dancer is also recorded in the books of history as “the racehorse with the modest racing history”. Because of the good reputation, the Shareef Dancer was sold to the Emir of Dubai for $40 million.

The Shareef Dancer took part in five races and ended up winning three. The total amount of money he won in his entire racing career was $250,000.

Fusaichi Pegasus

The racehorse that was known for winning six races was sold for $64 million in 2000. As per the data released in 2013, the Fusaichi Pegasus tops the list of most expensive racehorses ever sold whereas, the Shareef Dancer took the second position.


How to Make Money by Investing in Racehorses?

Racehorses are mostly bought to make money, seldom for riding. The trend of investing in racehorses is common probably because it’s cheaper and more rewarding than owning a sports team. Investing in a horse race is similar to gambling, it may or may never payback. 

For the record, the majority of racehorse owners do not make much money. You can only make money(if you are lucky enough) from the racehorse after a lot of patience and hard work. 

To be certain of winning money, one needs to get deep into the roots of this industry before actually moving to buy a horse. The racehorse owners majorly earn from winning the races but they can also earn from breeding, support services, buying, and selling. Now, let’s discuss the ways of earning money from racehorses in detail.

Making money from winning

The racehorses win a handsome amount of money from winning the professional races. The prize money can only be won when the horse is competent enough to win the race. History is full of examples that even the most expensive horses failed to earn for their owners. So, to earn from this way one must know what he is investing in.

Making money from breeding

Since the racehorses are bought after paying a huge sum of money so the owner does have the right to try every possible way of earning money from the investment.

The racehorses are offered for breeding quite often to pay for the yearly expenses. The green monkey that holds a prominent position on the list of expensive horses sold was offered for breeding for $5000.

Making money from pinhooking

A lot of advanced horse owners are smart enough to make money through pinhooking, a business in which young horses are bought, trained, and then sold at higher prices.

It’s riskier than all other ways of earning from the racehorses as who knows how the young horse would behave in a year or two.

Making money from selling

Many racehorse owners are involved in making money from buying and selling the horses. The horse owners buy the racehorse and try to sell the horse at a higher price. Making money from buying and selling the horse at a higher price is a common practice.

Making money from support services 

The racehorses are raised, kept, and trained at special barns. Most racehorse owners consider renting out the training fields and track profitable.

Here, in the end, I would like to confess that the figures (purchase price, upkeep cost) may or may not be correct as they are taken from the Internet. The exact figures can only be obtained from the existing racehorse owner. I hope it helps you with whatever reason you are reading.

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Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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