Saturday, October 18, 2014
Crowded and hectic are only two words that could describe how things are. Between our groups, the Canterbury Club, the new gig for slotmaker Incredible Technologies (or for the non-gamers, the force behind Golden Tee golf), the breeding operation and serving on the Board of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association, life has gotten a bit crazy. Heather has been a big help but you can only give attention to so many things before there is some deterioration.
Obviously work can't deteriorate, that has to be the first priority. The rest of it needs to be streamlined. To that end, as my term ends on the MTA board I decided not to run again. I'll continue to be a member and help out where I can, but my time on the Board is over...for now anyway. I loved my time on the Board and I'd encourage any of the over 200 members to run. I heard a lot of constructive criticism of the MTA in my three years on the board and I would encourage any of those dozens of folks to go ahead and run. Try and make a difference, don't just complain and then do nothing to affect change. This is a wonderful time for Minnesota racing and a crucial time for Minnesota breeding so go ahead and run, get involved and make an impact.
Additionally, as I've mentioned, we're working on selling Tabby Lane. That may be getting closer as activity and interest in that regard has picked up significantly on several fronts in the last week. It really is bittersweet for me on a couple of fronts. It's not secret that I love that mare and George (the future Tabby Dacat), her first foal, is just a joy. Throw in the fact that the foal she is carrying is by multiple graded stakes winner Doneraile Court, they both exceled between 7 furlongs and a mile and 70 and are an A++ True Nick and I think that whoever gets her is going to have one helluva runner on their hands (preference will go to the buyer that allows us to be listed as co-breeder).
So why sell her?
I love racing. I'd like to be proven right on the match but I love racing. I don't have the patience for the development time it takes for breeding. Georgie we will keep and race - watch for him to become part of a group late next year as he moves from yearling to a 2-year old in training. Selling Tabby and the foal-to-be will help me finance the racing operation. We're not independently wealthy and as such we can't do all things so for now we will streamline the operation to racing. That's not to say we won't be back to breeding at some point in the future but right now the money in Minnesota is skewed toward racing and not breeding so we're going to focus on that aspect of the industry.
Heather is working with Ellie a bit now that she's had 30-days to come down from being at the track. Not a lot of heavy work, but just some lunging to keep her active and get her mind active. Ellie is an immature 3-year old and is almost ADD! She's learning focus and concentration and hopefully getting a bit more independent. She finally showed some promise going a route the end of last summer and I want her to come to the track next year as a completely different horse.
The Canterbury Club is starting to wind down as well. We still have our two runners, Maryjean and Terice, but hopefully not for long. Both are doing well and continue to hit the board but that elusive 2nd win for the Club has been tough to come by. Hopefully we can pick up a couple before the end of the meet for the folks.
We'll also be looking to get ready for the 2015 season now that Bourbonology has retired and pull together another group to go after a runner to compete next season. If there is some interest, please go ahead and email me and I'll give you the details.
The off-season really is a bit of a misnomer since there really is a lot going on, though hopefully in the next few months our focus can get sharpened up and we can head into 2015 ready to rock.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Admittedly there was not a lot to savor on the racetrack for us personally this year, we only managed one win this season, but there were certainly great moments.
Trainer Robertino Diodoro, in his second season training at Canterbury, seized the training title from 9 time champion Mac Robertson. This is the first year that I can remember that Mac didn't have the title wrapped up with 4 - 6 weeks to go. I had a chance to talk with Diodoro after his Castletown won the $40,000 HBPA Sprint Stakes and asked him what changed between his debut season, where he had a hard time reaching the winners' circle, to this season.
Diodoro tied the Canterbury Park record for wins by a trainer on a single card, taking six on the final day, albeit in a highly unusual way, winning both ends of a dead heat in the $75,000 Shakopee Juvenile stakes which counted as two wins. I'm not sure which feat is more impressive: winning six races or getting six wins in five races!
The jockey race was another that came down to the final day. The trio of defending champion Dean Butler, Ry Eikleberry and Alex Canchari entered the final day with Eikleberry sporting a two win lead over his rivals and was able to hold off Canchari, taking the title 64 - 63.
The Indian Horse Relay was again a highlight of the meet for me. These kids are truly amazing. For those not familiar, there are several teams that consist of a rider, holder and mugger. Three horses on each team go a lap each (1 mile) and at the end of the lap, the mugger grabs the horse coming in at nearly full speed while the rider jumps off one mount and vaults on another for another lap. This year's winner was Dolphus Racing from the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation.
The big race of the season was the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, run on closing day for the first time in it's 3-year existence. According to Canterbury's Vice President of Racing Operations Eric Halstrom,"“We had hoped that moving our biggest race to the end of the season would allow us to draw horses from tracks where we had not before."
Halstrom wasn't mistaken. Ten of the 12 entered for Saturday most recently raced at tracks other than Canterbury, including Saratoga, Monmouth, and Parx in the east, Del Mar in southern California, and Northlands Park and Woodbine in Canada.
The winner was Long on Value who swept passed the early leaders Chairman Crooks and the favorite General Jack to take the richest race in the Canterbury Park era of Minnesota racing.
While the leading owners of the meet were brothers Al & Bill Ulwelling for the third time in five years, it's hard to imagine an owner having a better year than Rake Farms LLC. Proprietor Scott Rake breeds and races a small stable but had some of the biggest wins of the year with filly Sky and Sea and gelding Bourbon County. Between the two, four divisional honors were captured including Sky and Sea being named the Horse of the Year for the 2014 season.
From a business perspective, stats at the track were relatively flat but in an era when contraction is the norm and tracks are struggling to fill fields and just stay open, flat is the new up.
From my recap in the DRF:
Total purses for the meet were up 5.4 percent over 2013 with the track paying out $13,120,706 over the 68-day season.
Field size, which was a decade-best 8.36 horses per race in 2013, remained steady with 2014 fields averaging 8.22 starters per race.
Claiming activity at the Shakopee oval was up sharply year over year, with the number of horses claimed nearly doubled from 2013, 165 compared to 65, with a total value of more than $1,000,000, an increase of 79.3 percent year over year.
Older horse – Bourbon County
3 year old colt/gelding – Speed is Life
Grass horse – Dear Fay
Older Filly/Mare – Talkin Bout
2-year old – Hold for More
Claimer of the meet – Terice
Quarter Horse – Dirt Road Queen