Last week I shared a chart revealing the fact that Minnesota Thoroughbred breeders are the leading volume breeders in the Upper Midwest, considering actual state bred horse earnings. In that blog post, I also mentioned that our MN State Bred horse earnings and sale prices were uncompetitive.
This comment caused a bit of a stir, which resulted in a few emails and messages. So since you poked the bear, the "uncompetitive" comment was not an opinion but a fact based upon Jockey Club data available to anyone who cares to look at it.
It is a myth to think that Minnesota Bred purse increases have made our annual state bred earnings competitive! The first included chart on this post illustrates the actual 2015 earnings per state bred starter. Minnesota ranked dead last in the Upper Midwest racing states!
A major share of the "absolute" Minnesota purse dollar increases went to Non-Minnesota bred horses. In 2011 Minnesota bred earnings represented 53% of the total purses paid in Minnesota. In 2015, that percentage dropped precipitously to only 33% of the total! Is it really any wonder that Minnesota state bred racing starters dropped 23% from 2011 to 2015 while the non-state bred starters increased 62%, and the Minnesota registered foal count declined in both 2014 and 2015 after a post Mystic Lake bump up in 2013? Racing in Minnesota will need many more state bred Thoroughbreds in the future. That was clear this year considering racing fields and several less than 10 race daily programs.
To debunk the sale price myth that Minnesota is competitive, the following chart illustrates actual average yearling prices properly indexed to state bred earnings. Minnesota remains the only state in the Upper Midwest that realizes yearling sale prices that are less than annual state bred average earnings. Minnesota breeders only realize 77 cents per dollar of earnings for their sold yearlings, while the other Upper Midwest states see a $1.48 average! Since 2015 Minnesota average yearling sale prices were $10,458 for all sales, and the 2016 average for the Minnesota sale alone was reported at $10,560, it is very doubtful that Minnesota's uncompetitive Midwest relationship will change once all 2016 sales data is updated.
John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence". We are uncompetitive in Minnesota related to both state bred earnings and prices. Do we chose not to address this issue, or do we simply not understand how vital Minnesota Thoroughbreds are to both racing and the Minnesota economy?
Dave Astar is a race horse owner, stallion owner, breeder, 40 year business executive, and 50 year handicapper.