Most of you know my view of the Minnesota breeding program based upon earlier posts. The quantity, or breeding volume, is very low considering the total purses paid in Minnesota because a disproportionate share of purses is paid to horses bred in other states, by a 2 to 1 ratio!
So I was told by a local horseman, "That may be true but our quality has been getting much better". When asked how he reached that conclusion he mentions that he knows of a Minnesota bred horse or two that won open company races.
There will always be a few good horse outliers. That is the nature of variation. In truth, and I know this is hard to say to our many hard working breeders, Minnesota quality is even poorer than quantity, and has been for many years.
One of the worst things to happen, that publicized Minnesota's poor quality, occurred a few years ago. NAISCS, the group that decides on stakes quality, started using meaningful speed rating comparisons to establish Black Type stakes. Minnesota quickly had the majority of their stakes bred races "disqualified" as Black Type because the top placing horses in those races were so comparatively slow. Local horse people, who understand nothing about statistical normalization, tried to argue the changes. The NAISCS rightfully ignored the anecdotal arguements and in fact, only 4 of 14 Minnesota state bred races were Black Type in 2016.
Another measure of quality no one in Minnesota wants to talk about, is the ability for state breds to earn purses in other states. Why? Because in home states these state bred horses get to compete in races that are "restricted" to JUST other state breds. If horses earn purses in other states where they were not bred, they are not only good enough to ship and run elsewhere but they can beat horses from other states by earning purses in open company races. For example, Kentucky breds, the best bred horses in the world, earn 82% of their earnings in states other than Kentucky.
I looked with anticipation to see if Minnesota improved it's bottom ranked position when the 2017 Jockey Club State Fact Books came out recently. Unfortunately, by any measure, our quality is simply terrible by comparison, as you can see by the attached chart with Minnesota again sitting on the bottom of the chart with their state breds earning only 8.5% of their purses in other states! In business terms, I would call this a systemic quality failure in Minnesota breeding.
Unfortunately, both our Minnesota quantity (based on MN paid purse levels) and quality of foals is comparatively terrible. Mediocrity would be a vast improvement.
I know it's painful to hear this for my breeding friends, but it's not our fault. Volume and quality are poor because the breeding economics are terrible, and there is no economic reason to breed in high volume, or for truly high quality, in Minnesota. The overall Minnesota breeding program, from purse distributions to breeding incentives, has to change dramatically if even comparative mediocrity is to be realized.
Again, these are not opinions, they are simple to understand economic and systemic facts. Nothing will change, including awful results, until horse people wake up and start to effectively negotiate for change.
Dave Astar is a race horse owner, stallion owner, breeder, 40 year business executive, and 50 year handicapper.