Welcome Mr. Ark

Though we may have been outshook yesterday, we waded right back in today in race one with a claim for Mr. Ark.

Mr. Ark won the $6250 claiming race for Arkansas breds going away and seemed to come out of the race no worse for wear.  He’s bedded down for the night and we’ll get a better idea of how he came out of the race in a day or two.  His plan will be to walk the next few days, recuperating from the effort, before he heads back to the track to jog and gallop. There is a possibility that he will be back one more time at Oaklawn before the meet ends in another Arkansas bred event.

Speaking of breeding, Mr. Ark is a 5-year old gelded son of Primary Suspect out of the El Corredor mare Miss Brown Eyes.  Those of you that want to closer inspect his pedigree, you can fin that here: http://www.pedigreequery.com/mr+ark2.

This was his 21st start and 5th win.  He’s been in the money in half of his starts.  He appears to be better suited going long though he has sprinted effectively as well.  Additionally he has started and won over the grass.  This gives us quite a bit of flexibility coming to Canterbury.

We certainly don’t anticipate him being a stakes winner but he appears to be a honest low level horse that should be able to be useful spotted effectively.

Here are his lifetime past performances, not including today’s race: Mr Ark Lifetime PPs.

Congratulations and good luck going forward!



Outshook In Our First Try

We took a shot in the 2nd race at Oaklawn today on the favored Preacher Time.  Preacher Time is a 4-year old gelding by Oratory who has now won 3 of 15 lifetime starts and hit the board 11 times at tracks like Oaklawn, Remington and even a stint at Canterbury last summer.

He is a solid, consistent type which is what we like to look for in a Club horse.  Ideally we want to find a horse that is sound, is relatively consistent, maybe a horse that can compete at a bit of a higher level here than it does in Arkansas.  In a perfect world that would also be a relatively young horse (3 or 4) with only a few races under his/her belt.  However I’d rather sacrifice some youth for soundness and consistency.

Preacher Time really matched up well with his consistency and being a 4-year old that had only run 14 times prior to today.

However, there were 9 others who felt that Preacher Time would fit their program, so there was a shake (see yesterday’s post for an explanation of a shake) and we did not come out on top.  The horse ended up going to the barn of Kim Puhl for owner Jack Boggs.

We will keep looking and keep firing away!

Buying A Horse

There are several different ways to buy a racehorse: you can buy a yearling or a 2-year old (sometimes even older) in a sale; claim one out of a race; or privately purchase a horse.  We won’t be going to a sale so we will focus on the other two as both are a possibility.


About 80% of the races held in North America are claiming races or races in which the horses are up for sale. This process was instituted to keep each race as even as possible. You certainly weren’t going to risk your prize stallion if you knew he could be had for just a few thousand dollars! Claiming helps stratify racing and keeps a few good horses from beating up on those less talented.

Claiming levels vary greatly around the country. At some country fair and rural tracks the prices can be as low as $1000 while at the larger venues there can be $100,000 claiming races. The bottom line is the same: each horse is for sale for price laid out in the conditions of the race.

There is a very specific process you need to go through to claim a horse. It varies a bit from track to track but I’ll outline the generic process below.

First, you pick out the horse you want to buy. Nevada and I sort through Past Performances and check on possible targets. He also has been watching horses in training and on the track with an eye toward the time we’ll be ready to buy. We’ll most likely be looking to claim a horse around $12,500 – maybe a bit higher, maybe a bit lower – and then supplementing that horse with another that we would purchase at the end of the meet.

Second, you check the horse out in person. You can’t walk up to a barn and say, “Hey, I’m going to claim your horse tomorrow, can I have my vet check him out?” but you do want some degree of comfort because, in most jurisdictions, claiming is the epitome of “buyer beware” because once you own the horse, you inherit everything that may be wrong with him as we learned last season with Jerry’s Two Tickets who bowed a tendon in the race we claimed him from and needed to be immediately retired.

Nevada will take a close look at the horse as it walks over for it’s race and his behavior in the paddock. If he sees signs of a physical ailment (sore, crooked leg, etc) that could be an indicator of future issues, we pass. If they like what they see, we move onto step 3.

Third, you fill out the claim slip EXACTLY and then drop it in the claim box in the racing office or the bookkeeper’s office depending on the racetrack. Any error and the claim is voided. For example, one claim slip was filled out at Keeneland Race Course but on the “track” line, the trainer wrote in “Keenland” rather than “Keeneland”. The missing “e” cost them the horse.

The claim box is locked and the claim slips time stamped. Various tracks have different deadlines to have the claim slip in: 5 minutes to post, post time, etc. When the gates open, the claim box is opened and, if you have the only claim in on a horse, it’s yours from that moment forward. Should the horse pick up a check in that race, it goes to the old owners, but should the horse suffer an injury – or worse – in the race, the horse belongs to the new owners. Minnesota, New York, California and Arkansas have rules to protect new owners against catastrophic injury, but very few other jurisdictions. When the horse comes back after the race, a track employee is there with a tag that is snapped onto the bridle and the horse heads off to the new barn.

Should there be more than one claim on a horse, a “shake” is instituted. In a case like this, each claim slip is given a number which corresponds to a number on a small pill/ball. The pills are placed in a bottle, shaken and tipped. The number of the claim slip that corresponds to the first pill out of the bottle wins the horse. A horse we were looking at for the Alumni group two years ago had 16 claim slips dropped on him, for example. Oaklawn, especially, is a real hotbed of claiming activity- though less so this year than in the past.


At a place like Oaklawn there are many large stables that will move on to championship meets at Churchill, Belmont, etc.  They tend to have horses in their stables that aren’t talented enough to compete at the stakes or even allowance levels at this top tier track but may work very nicely for us here at Canterbury.  Nevada is already on the lookout for a horse that won’t make the cut with these stables but would be effective here.

The advantage with private purchases is you actually CAN walk into a barn and say “I want to buy some horses can I take a look at them?”  You’re not dropping a claiming slip blindly and taking an educated bet on a horse and you can check them out more closely.  As relationships are developed trainers know who they can trust to buy a solid horse from and who to avoid (the same can be said for claiming horses from people as well).

The downside is you may not be able to agree on a horse within your budget and the better horses that are relatively inexpensive tend to go very quickly.

However you look at it, the process has begun!  Later this weekend we’ll share some of the qualities we look for when claiming horses.

If you have any questions, please fire away in the comments section. Remember, the Club is designed to be a learning experience and we presuppose no level of knowledge so there is no such thing as a bad or stupid question!

Let’s Go Shopping

It looks like we will have 179 members this year.  I believe that this is the second highest number of members we’ve ever had.  (The record is 202 back in 2015, I believe it was)  That means we have $44,750 in the bank account to get started.

What we want to have are two horses to be ready to run here opening weekend (May 4). Two horses seem to work well for a number of reasons:  we get to run more frequently which gives everyone a chance to get in the paddock and more race day opportunities; should one falter we still have a shot at being successful; two horses generally provide us with a lot of opportunities to talk about running a horse and the invariable number of surprises they provide!

Keeping in mind that we also have this finite sum to work with, we want to make sure we keep enough money in the bank to pay expenses.  As you will see, keeping a horse in training costs between $2200 – $2500 a month.  With multiple horses, of course, the expense also multiplies.

Assuming $5000 a month for expenses for 4 months ($20,000), this leaves us $24,750 in the account to go shopping with.  We’ll be looking at taking a shot by claiming a more expensive horse ($12,500 or so) and then trying to privately purchase a lesser horse at the end of the Oaklawn meet that will prove to be useful here as well.

Our license application as a group is being processed in Arkansas today.  We need to register as a group and every member over 5% has to be licensed as an individual (that is only one person, me, so nothing to worry about there).  We also have to designate Nevada Litfin, our trainer, as authorized agent.  This allows him to claim horses on our behalf without me having to be there and sign every claiming slip.  The cost of the group license is $60 while the authorized agent form is another $38.  This will need to be done in every jurisdiction where we will race.

Bottom line is, as of tomorrow afternoon, we should be ready to start buying horses.

Tomorrow we will post what we’re looking for when we’re shopping as well as how the claiming process works.

Welcome to the 2018 Club

By now those of you that have returned or joined the Club should have received your “Welcome” email.  We are still not completely finalized as far as the final count and cashing of checks goes, but we’re close.  Hopefully we will have that for you next week and we can get started.

We did want to give you the several ways you can follow the Club and the various levels of information they offer.

Blog: This blog will have the most complete information.  We will have detailed race previews, financial updates, interviews with the trainer and other information.

Twitter (@CBY_Racing_Club): Quick updates as to entries, workouts and reminders.  Given space constraints we can’t get too detailed but usually the first place to see an entry or workout information posted.

Facebook (Canterbury Racing Club): This is new this year.  Just search for Canterbury Racing Club and follow the page.  We envision this page to be a place for members to connect, post photos and enjoy the more social aspects of being a Clubber.

Thanks for joining and thanks for following along – whichever way you choose!


Gearing Up 2018

Currently the accounting is being processed for the 2018 Club. We don’t have the final number yet but it looks like this year’s Club may be the second largest in its history!

Hopefully everything will be finalized the end of this week, then we can go on and get the group licensed in Arkansas and get on the ball looking for horses.  We may claim them we may buy them privately, it just depends upon what Nevada can find for us.  He is already on the lookout and ready to go when we are.

We REALLY want to be ready opening weekend and hit the Canterbury season running, if you will.

Once we get the final numbers there will be another post outlining how many folks we have and what we’ll be looking for going forward.

THANK YOU to all of you that have rejoined or signed up for the first time this year!

Last Day for Sign-Ups!

The last day of February is upon us and that means the traditional end of the “open enrollment” period for the upcoming year of the Canterbury Racing Club.  Have your membership postmarked today or call Jeff at 952-496-6408 and you’ll still be on time!

Here are the parameters of the Club:

Members will pay $250 to join the Club. There are no additional fees and the only additional expense will be if we are fortunate enough to get into the Winners’ Circle, there will be small charge for a photo.

The Club ends at the end of 2018 or when we have sold off our horses. As an example, in 2013 we closed in November because our last horse was claimed then and it made no sense to claim a horse for only a few weeks. In 2016, however, we raced straight until December 30th while last year we sold the horse privately on December 27.

Members get admission to Canterbury Park for the season as well as, if available, a special location to watch the races, rotating paddock access and – again, if we’re lucky – access to the Winners’ Circle. We will conduct a few backstretch tours during the season as well so we can visit the barns and get a glimpse at life on the backside. Last year we did a welcome coffee, juice and donuts that was well received so we’ll see if we can do that again as well.

You get to follow YOUR horse(s) during the year!

Members can only get back as much money as they put in. This is a not for profit venture and is used as an educational experience to get people familiar with all the ins and outs of race horse ownership and “pull back the curtain”, if you will, and de-mystify the game.

For those of you that are 2017 Club member: You will have the opportunity to either roll over your returning money into the 2018 Club or receive a check for the amount. You should have received several emails from Jeff Maday with the rollover form.  Please let us know if you have not and want to roll over into the 2018 Club.

The new member sign up form is at the bottom of this post. At the bottom of the form is the information to mail in your agreements. Please let us know if you have any questions either by leaving a comment here or contacting us directly at ted@grevelisracing.com or jmaday@canterburypark.

2018 Canterbury Racing Club Membership