In today's highly competitive business environment, consultants are an important part of success for many organizations.  Though consultants have been employed to advise businesses in the United States for more than a century, growth in the industry expanded wildly in the 1980s and 1990s with the specialization and complexity of modern business practices and structures.  Businesses today often seek to hire individuals with specific skills on a need-by-need basis to solve specific problems, rather than hire the problem solved from within through employee expertise.

Consultants are hired for a variety of reasons, including the timely application of an external perspective (presumably without prejudice), to apply specialized knowledge and experience to a process or problem, or to provide recommendations for more efficient ways to achieve business objectives.

In the thoroughbred business, consultants are employed in all of these capacities, but the most effective among them have experience operating businesses similar to those with which they are hired to counsel.  Consultants are a valuable source of statistical information that can make the thoroughbred business model more profitable.  In addition, a valuable thoroughbred consultant must be willing and skilled to perform or allocate the daily due diligence required to unearth talented and potentially profitable racehorses.

Since at any particular time, there can be as many as 25 tracks running simultaneously throughout the country, the consultant can provide value-added networking contacts, or be willing to do the cumbersome discovery work necessary to find valuable new partners in each geographical location.

Oftentimes, racing managers and owners are involved with other, non-thoroughbred businesses that require their consistent attention and cannot allocate the time sufficient to seek and manage their operations effectively.  In these cases, a trusted and skilled consultant can provide an important service by becoming the hands and feet of the operation, acting as proxy for the manager, thus freeing up time for other endeavors.

Just as in any line of work, some consultants are more effective than others.  One prerequisite skill of every successful racing consultant is an undying passion for the sport of thoroughbred racing.  Experience and knowledge of every aspect of the business is also essential.  Understanding speed, pedigree, class, and trainer motives are but a few of the related factors that must be fully mastered in order to ensure effective advice.

This important skill is usually a mix of experience and common sense, which, when combined can create an uncanny instinctual bent toward spotting a successful prospect.  The innate capacity that triggers the buy or pass action response is the key to ultimate success.  It's a hard-to-define, sixth sense that is either present or not.  The truth is; there are so many potential claim prospects available throughout the nation each day, without this ingrained sense of caution; a stable owner would end up with far too many non-productive, and thus, non-profitable assets over time. 

The jury is still out on just how much of this skill can be learned or whether it comes naturally with some and not with others.  The source of this skill is not important, only that it is present in the consultant's repertoire.  As we proceed to the actual selection process in the next section, we will hone in on this skill of discernment in more practical detail. 
Now that you are more familiar with the consultant's role in the process, let's tie the concept of consulting and partnering together in a usable form.  As we discussed in the previous section, the stable owner can create additional leverage with strategic trainer buy-in.  Similarly, this valuable leverage can also be attained with a skilled consultant.  Just as a trainer is likely to have a much greater sense of urgency to win with a horse they own, so too a consultant is more likely to recommend a more productive claim if they are similarly financially invested.

Often consultants are paid a base fee, either by the hour, by the claim, or by the project.  There is usually some form of additional compensation based on the implementation and quality of the performance of the individual recommended.  Though this is standard operating procedure, the process is shaped with certain inequities for the client.  Under these circumstances, the consultant must eventually create some tangible value for the client, otherwise word will spread and business will sooner or later dry up.

In response to this inherent imbalance, here is a brief description of how I operate my consulting business.  Base compensation is determined by the purchase, not by the hour.  I do not get paid initially until a horse is purchased and then, I invoice a descending sliding scale percentage based on the net profits generated by the horse in the first races after the claim.  In addition, I always offer to invest at least 10% in any horse (up to 50% in some instances) I recommend for claim as an assurance of my own belief in the recommendation.  Whether my clients take me up on this offer is a matter of choice, but the key is that they know I am willing to put in the work required to unearth a viable claim prospect and to put my money where my mouth is with regard to investment in the horse.  My own business, like those of my clients, will not succeed unless the recommended horses attain greater-than-average on-track performance.

This leverage is a healthy factor for the maintenance of a balanced business relationship.  Any animosity that might creep in is reduced dramatically by positioning ourselves as partners.  Though ultimately the claim selections must perform for my business to succeed, the relationship is less subservient and more proactively team-oriented a true win/win!

Another service I provide is what I call Key-Track Presence.  Over the course of the year, there are times of the year and certain tracks that are conducive to a more intense submersion in the process of selecting and claiming horses.  For example, many valuable prospects can be purchased at the end of the top-flight meets such as Saratoga, Oaklawn, Remington, and Keeneland.  It makes sense to not only identify prospects, but also to travel on-site to these locations for 3-6 weeks observing workouts and races, while teaming up with trainers to firm up claiming plans.  Ideally, the partnership should either have a horse performing on site at these locations, or if a horse can be claimed early in the process, that individual should be able to offset the on-site costs with potential purses. 
Again, this service is valuable for owners who prefer a more personal hand in the performance of due-diligence, but cannot justify the time spent away from other important priorities in their lives.  Expenses are reimbursed on a per-meet basis depending on the percentage details related to any subsequent purchase(s).  Many owners feel more comfortable, especially where it relates to a semi-unfamiliar venue, to have a trusted advisor on-site to do the investigation and facilitate transactions.
The role of the consultant in the process of research and selection of quality claim prospects is significant.  Each relationship is different and the logistical possibilities are endless.  As long as the consultant is knowledgeable, hard working, intuitive, and integrity-minded, a successful owner will be well advised to consider their services, at least in some partial capacity along the way in their journey toward finding profitable claim prospects.

Staying Afloat in the Claiming Game - Order Today!