First Interview of the Season

As the backside begins to fill and we start moving toward live racing, we have the first interview of the year with one of our trainers, Nevada Litfin.  He’ll talk about what’s coming and what it’s like on the backside with the “new normal”.

We’re hoping to finalize a deal and introduce our two horses shortly.

 

Progress. Slow, but Progress

Canterbury Park’s stable area opened up over the weekend and the first horses have arrived, mostly from Phoenix (Turf Paradise) but soon horses from Hot Springs, AR (Oaklawn) will start to arrive as well.  Though there has not been a definitive date set to start racing, we’re all hopeful that we will get the green light for racing to begin in early to mid-June.

In preparation, we are looking at a bit of a different strategy this year.  Whatever happens with racing, should racing commence it will be different than past years with one of the differences being a shortened meet schedule.  We don’t know the exact numbers of days but it will be less than the traditional 67-69 racing days of past years and could be as few as 50.

Nevada Litfin is looking into the possibility of sharing ownership of two horses with us: 50/50.  This would give us a pair of runners in that barn and Karl will claim something from either Lone Star or Will Rogers (or maybe opening weekend here) which would give us three runners to follow for the season.  This would ensure us more racing opportunities and give us an extra horse to follow for the season – hopefully making up for the some of the lost time.

It is VERY likely that racing will be conducted without fans for much, if not all, of the 2020 season.  That does cut down on some of the activities that we usually are able to bring to you: kick-off and closing breakfasts, paddock and winners’ circle (hopefully) visits and backside tours.  We will look to be a little creative on how we can bring some of that to you throughout the season perhaps doing a virtual backside tour or a “Facebook Live” morning workout session or whatever else we (or you all) can think of.

We hope that we will hear about racing shortly and when we do, we’ll bring that to you as soon as possible, probably first through the twitter feed (@CBY_Racing_Club) and the Facebook page and then with a post.

We appreciate you hanging in there…things are slowly looking up.

News Bits: Moving Closer to Having a Season

Here are a couple of news blurbs on the latest news from Canterbury Park:

First, Governor Walz indicates that he’s open to the idea of opening Canterbury, but with certainly no spectators to start:

http://www.mwpaddockreport.com/walz-open-to-canterbury-racing-this-season/

And then the track formerly submits requests to be able to open the backside to horses:

http://strib.mn/2Kn4Kxa

Hopefully we’re starting to get some clarity into what may be an odd, but functioning, 2020 racing season.

 

Minnesota Racing Updates

Here are a couple of updates.  The first is a press release issued by Canterbury on Monday, the second is a letter from Dr. Scott Rake, President of the Minnesota HBPA regarding the status of opening the racetrack.  Track management acknowledges in the press release that it will not be possible for opening day to be pulled off on May 15 as scheduled.  I believe the most likely scenario is an opening some time in June.

Again, because the Club has finite resources, we will be waiting to acquire a horse until the picture is clearer – we do not have $2500/$5000 for a month or more of no racing and straight training bills.  All the entities involved in Minnesota racing will be doing all they can to run as full a meet as they can so hopefully we won’t lose too many days of racing. The cancellation of the Twin Cities Summer Jam should help in that respect, but we are still in a “wait and see” mode.

We’re all looking forward to be racing again sooner rather later but also need to be prudent with our resources so we can be racing when our season does start here.  Please stay safe & stay healthy.

CANTERBURY PRESS RELEASE

Shakopee, Minn. — Canterbury Park racing officials along with the Minnesota Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, the organization which represents owners, trainers and jockeys working at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack, are continuing to formulate plans for a 2020 live racing season with a modified schedule. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the race meet was to begin May 15 and run 65 dates through Sept. 12.

“We recognize that live racing will not be possible on May 15 but continue to work with the Minnesota HBPA to determine the best possible summer racing schedule, “ Canterbury Park President and CEO Randy Sampson said.

Canterbury Park and the Minnesota HBPA intend to work closely with the Minnesota Racing Commission, the state body charged with regulating Minnesota’s horse racing industry which annually generates an economic impact in excess of $400 million and contributes more than 5,500 jobs to Minnesota’s economy, to ensure that proper protocols will be implemented to protect all workers when the horse stabling area opens. Guidelines provided by the CDC, the Minnesota Department of Health, the American Association of Equine Practitioners and recently updated guidance from the University of Minnesota Extension program designed to assist the Minnesota horse industry are being used in the initial preparations. Canterbury officials announced in March that the stabling area would open no sooner than May 1.

“We have horsemen at racetracks around the country that are currently training and racing and they are important resources during these very challenging times. We are using the best information available from all known resources,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “We consult daily with other racetracks, assembling best practices that have been successful for those currently operating to ensure we are providing the best possible care for all equines as well as those working with them.”
Uncertainty across the country has created a significant shortage of available stabling for America’s racehorses. Canterbury is the summer home for more than 1,500 horses and provides stabling and shelter free of charge to trainers and owners throughout the duration of its season.

“Canterbury Park and the Minnesota HBPA will do as much as we can to assist the horses and their caretakers during this difficult time but we need to do so in a smart and responsible manner for Minnesota and the local community.”

Offerman has extended the date for stall applications to Monday, April 13. He expects to have a revised Condition Book in May. More information is available at http://www.canterburypark.com .

On March 16, Canterbury Park officials announced the temporary suspension of activities including card casino, horse race simulcast, and special events operations at Canterbury Park in response to the pandemic. The company also announced its intention to pay all regularly scheduled employees for two weeks. On Wednesday, April 1 company officials announced the implementation of temporary unpaid furloughs impacting approximately 850 employees. The limited number of key personnel that remain are subject to salary reductions that will remain in effect until the company returns to normal operations. Sampson called the recent decisions made by the board of directors “the most difficult we have ever faced as a company.”

Subsequent to the company’s March 16 voluntary suspension of activities, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-04 and subsequently Emergency Executive Order 20-18 causing the closure of bars, restaurants and other public accommodations including Canterbury Park until May 1, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.

HBPA PRESIDENT LETTER TO HORSEMEN

Dear Friends of Minnesota Racing,

I don’t think there is any need to further detail this extraordinary time in the history of, literally, the world. It is unprecedented in the modern era and next to impossible to predict in the near-term future. But what we do know is that there is a light at the end of tunnel, even if we can’t know when that light will shine down upon us. To that end, you should know that I and the entire board of the Minnesota HBPA are completely focused to ensure the best possible outcome for the women and men who train our horses, who own our horses, who care for our horses, for all of us who cheer on and love our horses.

We can’t leapfrog science and act myopically in the short term by ignoring the reality of Covid-19. But what we can do is prepare for that inevitable day when racing comes roaring back in Shakopee. That will be one special day. To make this day a reality, I have been in constant contact with Canterbury Park CEO Randy Sampson and Vice President Andrew Offerman, State Veterinarian Dr. Lynn Hovda and various members of the Minnesota Racing Commission. Rest assured, this is an exceptional group of individuals with whom we’ve been able to determine numerous key issues and contingencies going forward. As we don’t know what will materialize in the future, we do have plans in place for whatever does.

Lastly, I ask for your patience and for your understanding. Please know that I and the Minnesota HBPA will be totally transparent. After all, we’re all in this together. So I ask you to resist the temptation to believe whatever rumors you may be hearing. Simply put, we at the Minnesota HBPA, Canterbury Park and the Minnesota Racing Commission are working together and can’t wait until we have a set date for when our great sport resumes at Canterbury Park. Trust me, we will be the first to let you know. Until then, stay safe, remember all those great moments of the past at Canterbury Park and know there are so many more yet to come.

Sincerely,

Dr. Scott Rake
President of the Minnesota HBPA

 

Status Quo

As the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated over the past week we’ve seen a lot of moves that could be called “unprecedented”.  With track closures all around the country, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness moved to September and racing’s 2020 future uncertain, we are going to hold off claiming a horse until the picture becomes clearer.  What we do not want to do is claim a horse and then have racing halted for a month.  We would be paying for training with no possibility of any income and, with a finite amount of money, we need to be more cautious and make sure that we’re in the game when there is sure to be a game!

While Canterbury has temporarily closed for simulcasting and cards, work is still moving forward toward a May 15 opening so we are optimistic that we will be able to claim or buy before then and be racing opening weekend.  There is still a lot of time between now and then and we’ll be watching events closely and maintaining communication with our trainers and sister racetracks.

In the interim, stay home if you can, be safe and wash, wash, wash those hands!

Getting Started

Everything is set at Oaklawn now. All the money is in, the licensing is done and we transferred money to our account there so Nevada and Karl can look to claim a horse for us. The final tally is 127 members which, for returning members only, is right on target since typically we have 20-30 people drop out each year with another 20-30 new people to sign up and end up in the mid 150s.

The simple math is that 127 folks at $250 each means that we have $31,750 to go shopping with. We really want to get going with a pair of horses but also need to be mindful of the bills. Remember back to last year where we know that a single horse in training costs us about $2500 a month so two kicks it up to $5000. Ideally we’d like to have 3 months in the bank when we get started so that trims $15000 off the total collected, leaving us with $16,750. That would technically mean that we can go up to $8,000 a horse but Arkansas also adds a 9.5% tax on claims so we have to be mindful of the additional $760 per horse. Certainly not the end of the world if we go over a bit so we will try and be prudent. If we do get a pair at $8000 then we’ll just have to win quickly!

Below is a summary we did last year on acquiring a horse as a refresher. This year will be a little interesting because we’re all returnees. HOWEVER, that shouldn’t change the fact that the Club was designed to be an education material so keep the questions coming in via the “comments” section or by sending an email to “ted@grevelisracing.com” and we’ll get the answered.

Good luck everyone!!

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.

CLAIMING

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. The trainers and I sort through Past Performances and check on possible targets. They also have 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 $8,000 maybe a bit lower with an eye toward where we can run this horse when he/she comes to Canterbury. The best horse in the race MAY NOT be the best horse to claim and run here.

We want a horse that can run over this race track, maybe can handle the turf. We want a horse who either has all his conditions (maybe only has won 1 race rather than three) or has cleared all his conditions and proven he can run “open” (don’t worry if you don’t understand these terms, another post later this week/weekend will clarify the levels of racing.)

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 three years ago with Jerry’s Two Tickets who bowed a tendon in the race we claimed him from and needed to be immediately retired.

The trainers will take a close look at the horse as it walks over for it’s race and his behavior in the paddock. If they see 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.

PRIVATE PURCHASE

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. Both trainers are 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!

We’re Rolling

Just a couple of more days and we’re going to send Karl and Nevada off shopping.  If you haven’t sent your money in by then, you’ll be cashed out and sent a check so the group can get rolling.  I’m hopeful that we can be all set and shopping as early as next weekend.

If you have not picked up your win photos at the track (3rd level information window), you have until this Saturday (2-29).  By mid-afternoon I will pick up all the extra and have them in my bag, you will have to corral me (Ted) at the track to get your copy.  I’m there most Saturdays before live racing and then most live racing days EXCEPT Thursdays.

Expect a post the middle of next week to talk about accounting, where the money is going, etc.

It’s all finally getting real again!  Can’t wait to get racing and thank you all for re-upping and looking forward to a great year!