Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Cooperation Between Upper Midwest Tracks Gives More Opportunities for Owners

Cooperation has been a watchword in the industry for a long time.  Sadly it’s mostly been because of the LACK of cooperation as opposed to cooperating for the common good.  This summer, however, cooperation is coming to the upper Midwest and it looks to be a winning situation.

Canterbury Park and Prairie Meadows announced today an agreement to allow Minnesota Thoroughbreds to compete at Prairie Meadows in restricted races written for Iowa Thoroughbreds prior to the start of the Canterbury Park race meet on May 17. Likewise, when the Prairie Meadows Thoroughbred meet concludes in mid-August, Iowa Thoroughbreds will have an opportunity to run alongside Minnesota Thoroughbreds in designated race restrictions at Canterbury Park through mid-September. 

The Iowa Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association led by Leroy Gessmann proposed the concept to the Minnesota HBPA last summer hoping to offer additional racing opportunities for horses from both states.

“This is an excellent opportunity for Iowa Thoroughbreds to run in restricted state races beyond mid-August when our season ends at Prairie Meadows,” said Deb Leech, President of the Iowa Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, "and the same holds true for Minnesota-bred horses to run, before Canterbury opens, in state restricted races here in Iowa. We are thrilled that Canterbury Park and Prairie Meadows were both receptive to this idea and worked with the Iowa and Minnesota HBPAs to make this happen. Purse structures are comparable, so this is an attractive option for our breeders and owners. We look forward to a successful first year of these additional races and building on it for the future.”

“This collaboration presents additional racing opportunities for owners of Iowa and Minnesota-breds,” Canterbury Park President Randy Sampson said. “With the Canterbury meet now extending into mid-September, we are excited to give the Iowa-bred horses the opportunity to race at Canterbury after the Prairie Meadows race meet concludes.” 

As many owners will recall last year, toward the end of the Canterbury meet as Minnesota breds started to work their way through their conditions, it was harder and harder to fill MN bred races.  I know several owners complained to me, “Why won’t they write a MN bred non winners of 3 races lifetime, $7500 claiming?”  The short answer was, “Because only you and one other horse are eligible!”  The answer was a bit longer than that, but the gist was exactly that.  The decline in the MN foal crop over the past five years left a real gaping hole in the MN bred racing program. 

That is about to change starting this season thanks to the cooperative marketing agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community which increases and stabilizes purses over the next 9-years.  Already, in-foal mares are coming into the state in near record numbers and we should see a nice bump in the number of MN bred foals over the next few years.  As the pace accelerates, maybe a program like this won’t be necessary, but whether it’s necessary or not to fill races or not, giving MN breds a place to run early and IA breds a place to run late really extends the season for an area that is limited in its ability to conduct a long race meet is great for owners and trainers.  More opportunities while not diluting the product is never a bad thing and hopefully can lead to other cooperative ventures – here as well as a beacon for tracks elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

Is this really good for MN owners? Finding out about this on Feb. 1, there's no way my horses will be ready to start at PM in April. I can tell you I'm not going to be very happy if one of them runs behind an Iowa bred in September.

I don't pay a lot of attention to Iowa racing or breeding but it is my assumption that they are breeding more and higher quality horses than we are, as they have been enjoying casino money for over 10 years. If that assumption is correct, logic would tell me they will dominate our races in September. What do you think Ted?

Theodore L. Grevelis said...

Anon - Thanks for reading and taking the time to respond.

My initial thought was the same as yours, but upon further reflection, I don't think that IA breeders have done as well as some other state breeders (FL, CA and NY, for example) in producing horses that can compete nationally.

The other thing to remember is that this won't be in all races, but only in a few categories. My guess for an example would be a $10,000 state bred claiming race for NW3 going a mile and a 1/16. This was a difficult race to fill at the end of the meet last year. This year, with some help from the south, that race may fill. What remains to be seen is whether or not we will run in a race like this mixed with IA breds or an open $5000CL with a lower purse.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response. That's fair. I agree I would rather run against IA breds than CA, FL or KY breds but I would still rather just run against MN breds. But if it fills races that wouldn't have filled maybe it will be okay.

I'm all for cooperation between tracks and ways to create more opportunities for MN breds. It just seems like this was a hasty decision that might not have been well thought out. I don't think many of us will have our MN breds ready by April (unless you were aware of the pending agreement and sent them to training in January).

Theodore L. Grevelis said...

I agree. Unless you were looking to get a MN bred prepped with a race before CBY opened, it may be tough to be ready in April, though I know some 3YO MN breds that went into training right at the first of the year.