Yesterday the Jockey Club released the new 2018 state fact books. I’m sorry to say the updated data indicates exactly what I have been imploring Minnesota horse organizations to address for several years now. Key breeding indicators continued to show declines.
The good news however is that Minnesota horse organizations are starting to address the issues now. The Minnesota bred Maiden Special Weight purses are going up 6.4%, according to the new condition book. They have added restricted “Minnesota Made” races this year, and many of the Minnesota state bred stakes race purses are jumping up between 15 and 20%!
These recent announcements are appreciated, much needed, but also late in coming considering the condition of the Minnesota breeding environment. Since I know I’ll be asked a question, I expect average earnings per state bred horse to improve in 2018 by near 10%. That’s a wonderful thing since we may now expect to approach $15,000 in average annual state bred horse earnings.
With all of this said, the state fact book reflected a one-year Minnesota foal volume decline from 2015 to 2016, the most recent data available, of 11.8%. Minnesota dropped to 217 foals in 2016, the lowest such number in the last 4 recorded years. The most recent estimation of mares bred (true breeding volume and a typical precursor to future foal numbers) in an earlier Jockey Club report indicated a one year 2016 to 2017 decline of nearly 50%. In 2017, only 66 mares were bred in Minnesota as of the last report, and Minnesota had experienced the worst percentage decline of any minimum 50 mares bred jurisdiction in North America, ranking 24th out of 24.
The state fact books also indicate that 2017 Minnesota state bred horse earnings dropped to the lowest level in the last four recorded years, of only $13,312 earned per Minnesota state bred starter. Minnesota also remained the lowest state bred average earning jurisdiction in the upper Midwest region.
Lastly, the 2018 factbook reflected a 2017 median Minnesota bred yearling sale price of $6,000, which essentially means state bred yearling sales values remained flat since the same median was attained in 2016 and 2014 respectively. Such sales results should of course be expected when average earnings per state bred were essentially flat however, that number should naturally rise considering the increase in MN bred races and purses.
So, there you have it. Things are looking up, which is the only way they should be looking when you are sitting at the bottom. As I said before, I am thankful that “competitive” changes are finally being made. And that’s the rest of the story my friends.
Note: The “Minnesota Made” language is a silly euphemism reflective of the fact that Minnesota horse folks have never come to grips with normal English language definitions associated with the difference between a foaled horse and a bred horse. Minnesota Thoroughbred language has always redefined foaling as breeding, though hilariously not in the Quarter horse language. Consequently, “Minnesota Made” means Minnesota horses that were actually bred in the state to Minnesota standing stallions.
Dave Astar is a race horse owner, stallion owner, breeder, 40 year business executive, and 50 year handicapper.