There is a new league on the horse racing scene, and it is coming to California.
Randall Lane, the chief content officer at Forbes, and a group of investors have raised funds to buy 36 racehorses for the purpose of creating a league-type structure for horse racing.
The novel and ambitious concept is meant to create an event-focused league for thoroughbred racehorses, to be modeled on other sports leagues. It will be known as the National Thoroughbred League (NTL).
California horse racing fans can get a first-hand look at the new league, as it is making a stop at Los Alamitos Race Course in Los Angeles this fall.
How the National Thoroughbred League works
Under the new concept, a company set up as a league office will purchase the racehorses privately. It will then conduct a draft among six team owners that are all equity holders in the league.
The company will also foot the bill for a series of races to be held on five weekends in the last weeks of summer and fall at five different tracks.
Points will be accrued in the races and the team that has the most points when the season ends on Dec. 31 will win a grand prize of $1 million.
The six teams will represent New York, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Seattle, Nashville and Philadelphia. Each team will have a name, a logo and unique threads for their uniforms.
Here’s what the inaugural 2023 NTL Season One schedule will look like:
- Sept. 2-3: Nashville (Kentucky Downs)
- Sept. 15-16: Seattle (Emerald Downs)
- Oct. 13-14: New York and New Jersey (Meadowlands)
- Nov. 10-11: Los Angeles (Los Alamitos Race Course)
- Dec. 30-31: Tampa, Championship Weekend (Tampa Bay Downs)
NTL at Los Alamitos Race Course
The NTL is coming to Los Alamitos Race Course for a series of races from Nov. 10-11.
Los Alamitos Race Course is one of four world-renowned racetracks in California. The other three are Santa Anita Park, Del Mar Fairgrounds and Golden Gate Fields.
Los Alamitos has the unique distinction of holding four quarter horse stakes races with purses over $1 million. That is more than any other track in the US, and the NTL will be added to the mix soon.
Given California’s large horse racing scene, Los Angeles is sure to be a top priority for the NTL. The entire business model of the company revolves around selling tickets to events associated with the race dates, locations and revenues from sponsorships.
Essentially, the set-up will be no different than other horse races like Preakness Stakes weekend, where events run the entire weekend, not just at the track.
The league’s developers are aiming to create a lifestyle around the races. Overall, the NTL could be seen as a way to create enjoyable weekends that draw in the crowds to experience America’s original spectator sport.
What to look for when watching the NTL
The NTL is set up in a unique way, and when visiting Los Alamitos to watch the action unfold, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Each league event will include three races open only to horses that are owned by the company. Teams will be able to enter one of their horses in each of the three races, for a maximum field of six horses in each race.
Under the track’s administration, betting will be allowed on the races. Proceeds of the betting will go to the host track and its horsemen.
According to Lane, the NTL league office will sell tickets to events held jointly with the race while seeking out sponsorships and other revenue sources.
“Several times a year we see that thoroughbred racing is as good as anything in the world,” Lane told Thoroughbred Daily News. “The Kentucky Derby week is as good (an event) as anything in the world. The Preakness, the Belmont, the Breeders’ Cup. Why can’t we have more of that?’
Hired to run the company as its president was Tom Ludt, a former chairman of Breeders’ Cup Ltd. Ludt said he plans to start buying the horses for the company this summer to meet the demands of an early July draft.
Ludt pointed out that the horses will all be acquired privately, and that the company will be looking for high-allowance, low stakes-level horses.
“We’re going to try and get the best horses we can get without breaking the bank,” Ludt told TDN. “It’s going to be a balancing act. We’re not going to be buying cheap claiming horses, but we’re also not going to be buying Grade 1 winners.”
What’s in store for the future?
So far, the National Thoroughbred League has attracted some A-list celebrities as investors.
Team owners will include the likes of rappers Nelly and Rick Ross, NFL star Kayvon Thibodeux, the NBA’s Danny Green and retired basketball player Baron Davis. Other notables keen to get in on the action are Steve Asmussen, Chad Brown, Mike Smith and Chantal Sutherland.
Moving forward, Ludt and Lane plan on adding more teams to the league in the future. They envision having two divisions, eastern and western conferences.
The NTL is also trying to expand and simplify the wagering menu. The idea is to allow bettors to wager on their team, whether that be in a head-to-head competition with another team, or winning the overall championship.
They also hope to add more events to the series and expand the roster for each team. For that to happen, the league office may have to refresh its acquisition budget in the future.
“We have to look at this as a start-up,” Ludt told TDN. “It’s probably going to look a lot different in three or four years. … It’s absolutely outside the box. That’s what’s so exciting about it.”