A few folks have asked about how the horse business is, and how we are doing this year. While our results have always been good when comparing to others, the horse business in Minnesota has really improved due to the increases in purses and breeders fund contributions. That’s why I say there has never been a better time to be in the horse business in Minnesota, and why new owners and breeders are now taking a hard look at business opportunities here.
Personally, our 3 racing stables in Minnesota collectively rank 29th in starts and 16th in wins, among the 491 owner entities listed as racing in Minnesota this year. Our “racing” earnings per start, which I always advise owners is a solid proxy for understanding the economic health of racing stables versus counting wins, is $4,450 in 2015 including races run at the Fairgrounds. The EPS number are way up in Minnesota for owners across the board.
On the breeding side, our sire Stormy Business has collected $62,345 in Minnesota bred earnings, which is important since MN earnings are subject to MN Breeders Fund payments. We have be fortunate by breeding to Stormy since he continues to be the Top Sire of MN breds over the last 3 year period. He is also the leading living MN standing sire of MN Bred Winners and Earners, and has been every year for the last 3 years. (Little Known Fact!)
Like I said, these are the actual facts as of today. so if you’ve ever thought of owning or breeding in Minnesota, now is the time. Don’t miss the MTA sale on August 17th at the Scott County Fairgrounds.
Our BJ’s Angel runs tonight and Demonte runs Sunday.
Funny how time passes. This Friday, July 31, 2015, our BJ's Angel runs again at Canterbury. While pulling up the PPs for the race, I came across an old win picture that just happened to be taken exactly 10 years earlier on July 31, 2005. Here is that picture of our two year old, The KB Kid, winning the Timeless Prince Stakes. Our entire family was at a family reunion back then so about 30 of us watched this race on monitors in a Billings Montana betting parlor. The KB Kid was arguably the best MN Bred 2 year old ever, going undefeated in 4 races that year and winning 3 stakes races in the process.
I enjoyed seeing the Thesing's, Randy and the Hoffrogge's back in 2005 picking up the trophy for us. Of course, they haven't aged a day.
It will be a "real" Blue Moon (based on the original definition) Friday night. Maybe we will see you there.
Well our Samstar finally brought home the bacon last night, winning the 10th race at 11:05 PM. Besides celebrating the win with our partners on this horse, the Sampson's, I enjoyed seeing a bunch of handicappers from my handicapping page, "Horse Players Forever", jump into our win picture and take home a few sheckles in the process. Bri, Nick, Ian, Joe, Angela, and even my just graduated HS handicapping students Craig, Logan, Finley and their friends Bailey, Keith and Spencer, were there to cash in and go home winners. Thanks for showing up kids. It's nice to see young people find so much enjoyment in the sport we love by learning how to take risks properly.
Lesson time for the kids.
By Seth taking the short route on the rail the entire two turn race, he had a 4 to 5 length distance advantage at the wire. This, as I have explained, is simple geometry and you should note Samstar only won by 2 lengths. Seth could relax Samstar early, saving both ground and energy for the stretch. This was the first time this was done in his 10 races, even though his breeding strongly suggests this running style. Everything was possible because these were cheap maiden claimers, and since Seth is a very talented and confident rider, he could wait until the stretch to pick his spot for the drive. Why you may ask? Because cheap horse are typically well spread out coming home, unlike proven better horses that have what's called tactical speed. Normally only a few horses in cheap fields can stand out and be good enough to be near the pace coming home. With a short 7 horse field anyway, Seth could easily pick his spot to run in the stretch and found a rail hole, making it just that much easier.
This is why, "The Shape of the Race", is vital unless dominant capability exists. This is also why the public only made Samstar the 3rd choice in the odds. The jockey change was a key. Also this post should help explain why real handicappers need to not only watch a race and look at PP's, but understand what they are watching. You need to know more than whether or not a horse wins or loses a race. You need to know HOW a horse wins or loses if you want to predict future results. For example, will Samstar enjoy the same "Race Shape" next time and run a similar speed next time against better horses at his next condition of Non-Winners of 2, at 6 furlongs versus two turns, with a different jockey, with a different post position, etc., etc.
Ah, the beauty of understanding variation and predicting the future. Gotta love it!
Friends and family, Samstar gets his 6th race at Canterbury tonight in the 10th. Though he has been the favorite and picked by the public handicappers before, this time I may just agree with them. I don't manage him, and bi-weekly racing since mid May for a young 3 year old is pretty tough. He is also better as a two turn horse (10 points higher speeds consistently) and he has no early lick, though he seems to be used by the mid way point every race. Maybe with a change to Seth Martinez as the jockey, and a different approach, we will have a better result.
Seth has been riding near 122 so we may get a +4 pounds tonight, which matters in my handicapping book at two turns on warm days. Nevertheless, we run at 11:03 tonight so it should be a bit cooler, and Seth's riding talent may easily be worth the extra pounds.
Our other managed 3 year olds, which I recommended as good plays two weeks ago, have already won. In fact, our Minnie Soda Nice beat Samstar the last time out by 6 lengths. With Minnie now out of the maiden ranks, I think Samstar should get there if his head is right tonight. Good Luck if you play him.....and yes, this was him with his mama as a baby.
Sunday our first two year will run in the 7th. Demonte has trained well and is a full brother to Minnie Soda Nice who won last weekend as a 3 year old. Of course, anything can happen in a 12 horse two year old race and while Demonte has a strong workout base under him, a first out is often a great learning experience.
Then in the 9th race, we are bringing Minnie Soda Nice right back after winning just 10 days ago. We normally would rest him longer but after a nice 5 length win, and seeing him gallop very well on Wednesday, we went ahead and entered him in the very tightly conditioned Minnesota Stallion Auction Stakes race. It’s “tightly conditioned” because only horses that were sired by sires which donated a stallion season way back in 2010 are eligible for the race. Also, since there is no longer a separate filly race, only one filly is entered in the 7 horse $55,000 Stallion Auction Stakes field.
Hold For More is “far and away” the clear favorite. He is trained by a good baby trainer in Francisco Bravo, and bred by the smart breeders from Woodmere Farm. Since I am not yet delusional, I see both Hold For More's pedigree and past performances far exceed all other entries, so we may honestly be running for the $11,000 second prize…….but that’s not so bad you know.
We donate a Stormy Business season to the MTA every year. This not only helps raise funds for the MTA but also makes all of his babies eligible to run in this tightly conditioned $55,000 Stallion Auction Stakes race. This is just another tightly conditioned “BONUS RACE” reason to look hard at the Stormy Business sired HIPS 76 and 77 in this year’s MTA yearling sale.
We have had a pretty nice week in our main racing stables (Astar Lindquist & Astar Thoroughbreds) thanks to trainer Gary Scherer and some great rides by Geovanni Franco, Denny Velazquez and Nik Goodwin. It started on July 3rd when BJ’s Angel moved her earnings over the $120,000 mark by hitting the board in the Black Type Princess Elaine Stakes. Then Thursday night 3 year old Minnie Soda Nice broke his maiden easily by 5 lengths when we dropped him down to a claiming level to get a win and develop some confidence. Then last night, 3 year old PJ’s Angel pulled away running on the turf for the first time to easily win a Maiden Special Weight.
A pretty nice week for family and friends, and our stallion Stormy Business who sired all three horses.
It’s also great to see Gary, one of the most thoughtful and patient trainers I have ever met, carefully develop our very young stable. We have been reloading the stable with babies over the last two years and he works as much on making them happy, and keeping their heads right, as developing them physically to run. Soon our two year olds (Demonte, Blazing Angel and Victory Ice) will look to get their gate cards in preparation for races over the next few weeks.
Tonight 2 in the 7th at Canterbury. It's a pickem I think. Though Minnie Soda Nice will improve and Samstar may go the favorite, I have the 2, 5, 6 close on top with the 1 and 3 near behind. All are between 15 to 20% probabilities in my view so we need between 4 or 5 to 1 to make them good bets. I think we know what we have in Samstar, and he may squeak this out, but Minnie may jump up a bit I hope.
Sorry no sure thing here, but maybe tomorrow.
Watch PJ's Angel tomorrow in the 4th. A definite play for me who is in better shape now and I think will take to the turf since I knew her momma (Astar for Dina) very well. (Dina was also the only horse I kept who actually knocked me off my feet once when pissy.) Anyway, I think PJ is a nice play at 5/2 or better.
I had a couple messages from old business associates asking about investing in the racing or gaming industry.
Here's the thing to understand, the standard is different. For example, most of us never invest unless we can garner a 20 to 25% return on equity. It's also why those of us who grew up in Fortune 100 companies expect minimum 25% ROE's from our businesses. Many of us would have had our butts handed to us for acquiring or running companies with lower ROE's, but we were not in depressed industries suffering from declines and contraction.
As such, racing is currently a very tough industry. So while the DOW grows over 15% per year, and companies like the ones many of us worked for in healthcare grow equity consistently at 50% a year, any racing business that is seeing even a 5 to 10% ROE is seen as outstanding by comparison.
I hope this answers the questions.
Tonight BJ’s Angel goes in The Princess Elaine Stakes. Simply put, 9 horses could take this and for most of them, the “shape” of the race will be the key. In our case, I make BJ a 14% win probability. For students that means 6.14 to 1 is breakeven (probability of losing divided by the probability of winning or 86% divided by 14%), but with margin you need 7 to 1 to bet. Morning Line has her at 8 to 1.
Last race was her first out, a tune up for her. She ran a 68 Bris compared to the 85’s she was running earlier. However, it was also her first after chips were removed from her ankle so we hope she returns to form. If she does, Franco, who is the top turf jock in the country statistically, needs to save ground early, let her relax and find a straight line home to win. We also need some early pace since her last race crawled in 25.6 for the first quarter, though she only lost by a little less than 5. Besides Blue’s Edge, I’m thinking Sky and Sea and Dear Fay will go inside plus one or two others. I’m hoping at least.
Talking Bout has Denny, who will always ride for Ulwelling’s if Gary has two in. She and It’s Tamareno are likely the top choices but again……spots, race position, pace and the shape will dictate this winner I’m afraid. It’s that close…….but I hope to hear Paul Allen say “Here comes BJ’s Angel with Franco”! Haha and good luck this weekend.
Dave Astar is a race horse owner, stallion owner, breeder, 40 year business executive, and 50 year handicapper.