by Marty Simpkins
RALEIGH — Jeff Neese is just a local guy following his dreams. He is also the owner of the largest stable of thoroughbred racehorses in the state of North Carolina.
Jeff has always been a big fan of sports. He played quarterback at Washington State University and is on a board of directors for Wakefield High School.
After graduating from college, Jeff went into the business world and moved his way up the corporate ladder at Car Quest. While being an executive there, Car Quest was bought out by Advanced Auto Parts and Jeff had to find something to do to pass the time.
“We had been bought out by Advance Auto Parts and I had to sell my business portfolio,” Jeff said. “They took care of me financially and so I had some downtime. I could have looked for another job with another company, but then I got into horse racing.”
Jeff said that he had always been fascinated by athletic ability and once he saw what racehorses could do, he jumped at the opportunity to own some.
“These thoroughbreds are some of the most agile athletes on the planet,” Jeff said. “They go from zero to 40 miles per hour in 2.4 seconds in three and a half strides and they weigh 1,200 pounds. It’s crazy. If you put that ability and compare it to some of the greatest athletes like Michael Jordan, it would make Michael Jordan look like he has no athleticism. These horses can jump up to 11 feet in the air and clear a fence with a good running head start. The athleticism of these horses are unbelievably amazing. That’s why I love them so much, because it’s exciting to be around them.”
In order to get into the horse racing business, Jeff had to do a little homework and get some help from investors and he found his first one in the midwest.
“After doing about six months of industry research and going to some auctions myself, I met with trainers and pedigree consultants and that’s when I met this guy from Boise, Idaho named Jason Hall,” Jeff said. “He owns the Thoroughbred Review. I am a data and statistical nerd, so he compiled a list that takes into consideration mares, size, greatest stakes winnings and prices. Jason told me to subscribe to his data and then we could go into business together.”
Jason Hall is a lifelong student of bloodstock topics, which is the study of pedigrees in horses and determines what kind of breeding produces a valuable racehorse. He also holds a degree in journalism from Boise State University and his articles on breeding practices have appeared in nine different racehorse magazines. Hall additionally speaks at new horse owner seminars across the country.
“I’ve been in the horse racing business my whole life here in Idaho,” Jason said. “In 2004, I started the Thoroughbred Review to educate people on horse racing and proper breeding to develop a great racehorse. Jeff found me through one of my articles on the website and contacted me about investing into his new horse racing business.”
Jeff and Jason have been working together by touring the country, looking for the perfect horse to be a part of their new business.
“I have a special kind of relationship with Jeff,” Jason said. “He is more of a client and I help him out with his business. When it comes to buying the horses, I have 100 percent full power over that. As far as selling them and putting them with different trainers, I’m more of a managing partner.”
Some other investors include Jeff’s own family members. Once Jeff acquired enough investors and research, he decided to open the stables for racehorses to come in. Jeff went with the name Racer X Stables, being a big fan of the old Street Racer cartoon television series.
With investors on board and the right information at his disposal, it was time to start attending auctions and buying horses.
So far, Jeff and Jason have attended four auctions. Their first one was Sept. 2014 at Keeneland, Kentucky, the world’s largest and primary auction for racehorses.
“At our first auction, we acquired two horses,” Jeff said. “One was a Munnings filly and the other was a Horse Greely colt. After that, we acquired a mare that came off the racetrack that won a little under $300,000. We’re mating her with Temple City, which is a stallion in Kentucky.”
From there, Racer X Stables have acquired 16 total horses: three mares, four weanlings (babies under 1 year old) and nine yearlings (between 1 and 2 years old). Although Racer X Stables have a young stack of racehorses, Jeff and Jason do not plan on racing them anytime soon.
“Buying and selling is a major home-run, because you can’t guarantee your horse can win a race, but you can still make money off of the horse even by not racing it,” Jason said. “Horse racing economics puts more value on the team, so you have to make sure your team wins or you don’t make any money. With that perspective, I have to go down the selling avenue because Jeff’s business has just started.”
On average, Jason attends six to nine auctions per year and buys anywhere between seven to 10 horses per auction.
Once the horses are bought, they are taken to Racer X Stables’ lone trainer. John Brocklebank. The horses are trained for six to eight months and then sold at auctions at a much higher price than when Jeff and Jason first bought them.
Racer X Stables did produce their first winner Saturday at the Fair Grounds Race Course in Louisiana. Skim the Rail, one of Jeff’s mares, won $16,500 for taking first place.
Skim the Rail lives and trains in Louisiana, even though Jeff lives in Wakefield. According to Jeff, the horses are trained in the same state where they are born, which means a lot of traveling for Brocklebank, Jeff and Jason. Four horses are kept at Jason’s ranch in Boise, there are six currently being trained in Utah by Brocklebank and they also have one mare in Kentucky.
“We recruited these animals and bought them from several states,” Neese said. “Wherever the mother gives birth, that’s where the horse stays. You can win bonuses if your racehorse wins a race in the same state its from. We don’t want to have all our eggs in one basket, so we’ve got some horses from West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Florida and Louisiana.”
Racer X Stables will attend their next auction at Barrett’s Auction at Los Angeles, California Feb. 21, where they will be selling the first two horses they bought: the Munnings filly and Horse Greely colt.