At Canterbury Park, Foal falloff keeps state-bred races lean

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 9, 2013 - 6:30 AM

Canterbury Park will have a big day with small fields, a problem left over from a troubled time that the track is yet overcoming.

Doug Schoepf knew the statistical trend portended trouble ahead. As the number of foals born in Minnesota declined steeply in recent years, the director of racing at Canterbury Park understood it would become more and more difficult to fill races for Minnesota-bred horses at the Shakopee track.

Still, Schoepf didn’t expect only three horses to enter the Victor S. Myers Stakes on July 4, forcing it to be canceled. That made him a little nervous about Saturday’s Minnesota Derby, the track’s other major stakes race for 3-year-old Minnesota-bred colts and geldings.

“I was very surprised [about the Myers],’’ Schoepf said. “That’s the first time that’s ever happened. It just shows how depleted the numbers are.’’

Two late nominations boosted the Derby field to eight, still not a robust number. The population of 2-year-old horses is smaller yet, with enough to fill only six races so far this season — fewer than half the number held only three years ago. The numbers crunch promises to be worse next year, after the foal crop of 2012 tumbled to an all-time low of 96.

There is hope on the horizon. Last summer’s 10-year, $75 million purse-enhancement agreement between Canterbury and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community gave an immediate jolt to the breeding industry, with 259 thoroughbred foals born in the state this year. The purse increase also has boosted the market for Minnesota-bred horses, with a big jump in the number being offered at Saturday’s annual horse auction held by the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association.

In the short term, though, Schoepf is prepared for the task of making do with very few.

“The numbers have really dropped off, and next year, they’ll drop off even more,’’ he said. “In previous years, you could count on every two weeks, you were going to get a Minnesota-bred 2-year-old [males] race and 2-year-old fillies race to go. That hasn’t happened this year.

“We hope we’ll be able to fill those races next year. But we may be running very short, five-horse fields for 2-year-olds and some 3-year-old races. It’s going to be a challenge, no doubt about it.’’

Minnesota Racing Commission statistics show the number of thoroughbred foals born in the state has declined every year since 344 were delivered in 2005. Shrinking purses at Canterbury Park, and uncertainty about the track’s future, caused breeders to cut back or leave the business.

In 2010, 182 foals were produced in Minnesota, and Schoepf said 100 are registered to race at Canterbury as 3-year-olds this summer. The foal number dropped to 131 in 2011, with 60 registered to race. Even among the horses registered, some will be injured or will not be ready to run, further reducing the pool.

Through the first week in August 2010, Schoepf was able to put together 15 races for 2-year-old thoroughbreds, with an average of 7.6 horses in each. In the same time period last year, he could muster only eight races, with an average field size of 7.25. This year’s six races have drawn only 6.83 starters.

Schoepf said he is carding more races for older Minnesota-bred horses, and he expects to continue relying on them in the short term — particularly with fewer than 100 horses eligible to begin their racing careers as 2-year-olds next year.

“A lot of the babies don’t even make it to the races, so a number that’s already low gets depleted quite a bit more,’’ he said. “The older horses have helped keep Minnesota-bred racing going. I hope we can keep them racing until we get the numbers up for the younger ones.’’

This year’s foal numbers indicate rising fortunes for Minnesota’s racing industry, and the MTA’s horse sale also is on an upward trend. Of the 96 foals born last year, more than half will be offered for sale at Saturday’s auction, an annual event held at Canterbury. MTA executive director Kay King said 71 horses have been consigned to this year’s sale, up sharply from the 44 entered last year.

The purse-enhancement agreement sent prices soaring at last year’s sale, and King expects another increase this year. She said sale catalogs usually are sent to potential buyers in nearby states, but she has gotten requests this year from people as far away as Texas, Florida and New York. More new owners also are getting into the game, particularly in partnerships.

“There are 51 Minnesota-bred yearlings in the sale, because people realize there’s a market for them again,’’ King said. “People are willing to invest in the industry again. It’s going to be tough for a few years to make those [races for young horses] go, but the future is looking really bright.’’

  • related content

  • Chart: Saturday at Canterbury

    Thursday August 8, 2013

    Saturday at CanterburyThe Minnesota Derby for 3-year-old colts and geldings and the Minnesota Oaks for 3-year-old fillies highlight a 10-race...

  • Johnny Love's Friday Canterbury line

    Thursday August 8, 2013

    Post time: 6:30 pm. Best bet: Promise of Pyc (1st Race). Best play: 50 cent Pick 4—Race 7 (1,2,3,4,5/4,8,11/4,6,7,8/1,5), $60.1...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Toronto 104 FINAL
Indiana 91
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Detroit 95
Milwaukee 109 FINAL
Miami 102
Memphis 109 FINAL
Dallas 90
Chicago 113 FINAL
Golden State 111
Washington 98 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 4
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 4
Winnipeg 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Washington 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Carolina 4
Dallas 2 FINAL
Montreal 3
Detroit 5 FINAL
Florida 4
Colorado 3 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 4
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Ball State 47 FINAL
Akron 59
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Bowling Green 56
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Buffalo 77
Ohio 40 FINAL
Eastern Mich 76
Xavier 66 FINAL
Georgetown 53
Vanderbilt 62 FINAL
Georgia 70
West Virginia 65 FINAL
Kansas State 59
Central Mich 53 FINAL
Kent State 63
Saint Josephs 48 FINAL
La Salle 53
Nebraska 44 FINAL
Michigan 58
Miami-Ohio 65 FINAL
Toledo 70
Tulsa 62 FINAL
Tulane 55
George Washington 48 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 72
Pittsburgh 67 FINAL
Virginia Tech 70
Indiana State 78 FINAL
Evansville 89
Tabor College 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Florida 52 FINAL
Alabama 50
Tennessee 64 FINAL
Arkansas 69
Texas A&M 71 FINAL
Auburn 61
Baylor 53 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 44 FINAL
Utah State 56
Fresno State 47 FINAL
San Diego St 58
UNLV 67 FINAL
Nevada 62
SD Christian 54 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 79
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Boise State 82
Temple 71 FINAL
UCF 54
Campbell 42 FINAL
Presbyterian 51
Coastal Carolina 65 FINAL
High Point 73
Gardner-Webb 49 FINAL
Radford 59
UNC-Asheville 58 FINAL
Liberty 62
Winthrop 63 FINAL
Longwood 62
Columbia International 33 FINAL
Charleston Southern 74
Tulane 63 FINAL
Houston 46
(3) Baylor 89 FINAL
TCU 67
Navy 49 FINAL
American Univ 59
Valparaiso 42 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What chance does the Wild have of making the playoffs?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close