The average income of a racehorse owner is difficult to figure. Not every race horse owner is extravagantly wealthy, but it helps to have a lot of extra cash to burn. The annual cost of keeping a competitive race horse, according to Forbes, is about $60,000. For quick comparision, that's equivalent to a year of tuition, housing and books at an Ivy League college.

Bloodhorse magazine, the monthly journal for horse owners and breeders, claims its average subscriber's net worth is $2.7 million. The real professionals, the members of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association the magazine says it targets, have an average net worth of over $8.2 million.

"Racing is the Sport of Kings and it's called that for a reason," said Jeb Hannum III, president of the Kennett Square-based Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association. "Very wealthy people have been involved with racing forever."

Hannum said the demographics of horse owners changed during the last 20 years.

"They have some disposable income," Hannum said. "They're professional people who, instead of buying a boat, buy a racehorse."  

But it's not the bank account that defines the horse owner, said Salvatore DeBunda, the president of the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horseman's Association, who will be inducted into the Parx Racing Hall of Fame on Saturday.

"It's people that have this gene. They fall in love with horses. That goes from hotwalker to farrier (blacksmith) to the owner," DeBunda said. "They do it because they enjoy it. They hope to break even or make a little money. Owning a horse is like owning your own sports franchise you get to pick your own players and your own coaches. But when your horse wins, you're the only one there in the winner's circle."

Contact Sam Wood at 215-854-2796 or samwood@phillynews.com. Follow @samwoodiii on Twitter.
Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.