As Big Brown was preparing last week to get ready for his big day Saturday at the Belmont Stakes, his owners and financiers are already counting their predicted earnings, as well as forging ahead with the $100 million seed capital for a hedge fund that will invest in other racehorses.
They probably need the head start on counting their multiple winnings; if Big Brown wins the Triple Crown, he could be worth as much as $120 million as a stallion.
The horse's owner, International Equine Acquisitions Holdings (IEAH), is run by Co-Presidents Michael Iavarone and Rich Schiavo. But the real money behind the operation comes from James Tagliaferri, owner of private equity outfit TAG Virgin Islands.
Tagliaferri considers himself foremost a businessman, and he compares horseracing to the stock market.
"This was a business unrecognized on Wall Street, but very much like Wall Street," Tagliaferri, 68, told The New York Times. "It's impacted by some of the same characteristics that drive commodities like gold. It's risky, but biotechs can be riskier than horses, and believe me, I've seen biotechs of mine go down."
IEAH's business plan involves generating stallion fees and selling their progeny at auction sales, while continuing to buy proven horses, mostly at premium prices.
Iavarone said it's not just about the money. Even if Big Brown loses the Belmont, the three-year-old colt will race for the remainder of the year.
"We believe he is the best horse in the world right now," Iavarone said, "and we're going to prove it."
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