Yesterday I received a call from a new thoroughbred mare owner in Minnesota. She is trying to decide whether to breed her new mare or just train her as a riding horse. Unfortunately, she couldn’t find any consolidated information related to why she should breed here in Minnesota. After telling her all I knew, I searched online sites and literature. To my surprise, she was right!
Recent changes, and some predicted breeding advancements, should make thoroughbred breeding in 2016 great and I thought others might benefit from an old horseman’s real time consolidated view of Minnesota thoroughbred breeding benefits. Of course, the thrill and excitement of seeing your breeding decisions come to fruition on the racetrack is a primary motivation for many horse people however, the Minnesota economics have also shifted making breeding very rewarding in many other ways.
Breeding economic value is realized when you either sell or race your foals. If you sell, you not only get the sale price but you will also receive “Bonuses” if bred foals earn purses in Minnesota. If you do not sell your foals and keep them for racing, you will earn those same bonuses, plus the race purse earnings. Subsequently, your breeding revenue boils down to three simple things; racing purses, bonuses, and sale prices. Each one of these items has either improved dramatically or should be predicted to improve in my view.
Racing Purses have increased since the advent of a 2012 Mystic Lake marketing agreement. In fact, no other state in the union has seen anything near the 117.9% Minnesota increase in purses since 2011. Minnesota bred maidens will run for a $32,000 purse in 2016, versus the $18,500 they ran for in 2011. Our Minnesota state bred stakes, like the Oaks, Derby, Futurity and Debutante, are now each at $85,000 purse levels! The MTA Stallion Auction Stakes race is now up to $55,000 and an entirely new $40,000 race was added to the book in 2016 for MTA sale graduates to be run on the same day as the Minnesota Derby in July.
Bonuses have also jumped up dramatically, and there are ongoing serious efforts to find other added sources of breeder bonus revenue. In 2015, mare owners received a Minnesota Breeder’s Fund check in December. That check equaled 8.9% of the eligible purses earned by their bred horses. If you keep your foals and don’t sell them, you basically get this 8.9% bonus for eligible purses on top of your standard race purse earnings. If you sell your foal, this is like an annuity for breeders because the checks just keep coming in without doing anything!
The Minnesota Thoroughbred Association has also just announced that the breeder of each MN-bred yearling, consigned to the MTA 2016 Yearling Sale that sells to a new owner during the auction, will receive a Yearling Sale Graduate Breeder's Bonus when the MTA Sales Grad breaks its maiden in a Maiden Special Weight or Allowance race. The bonus will be paid to the breeder within 30 days of the horse breaking its maiden at Canterbury Park. Minnesota “CONCEIVED AND FOALED” MTA Sale Grads will receive a $2,000 bonus. Minnesota-bred MTA Sale Grads will receive a $1,000 bonus.
Sale Prices should also see a rise in 2016. Not only is the sale moving to the very professional and new state of the art Canterbury Park expo center, with all the technology and amenities that thoroughbred buyers expect in a professional sales environment, but marketing leverage associated with Canterbury’s exceptional average race day attendance should benefit selling breeders in an exceptional fashion. With the previously mentioned added races and purses, smart buyers will infer additional economic future value of their foal purchases, which should naturally be reflected in increased prices.
Considering the “factual” changes that have taken place, and the “future” changes knowledgeable horse people project will occur, the Minnesota thoroughbred breeding environment has never been better as all three key elements of value "factually" increase. And then, there's the thrill which for some of us is priceless. (Sounds like a credit card comment, right? Oh well, it's the truth!)
Dave Astar is a race horse owner, stallion owner, breeder, 40 year business executive, and 50 year handicapper.