If At First…

As you know, we’ve started shopping for horses. The reality is that there are two ways we can obtain our horses: private purchase or through a claim. We’ve talked about claiming so I’ll touch on private purchase for a moment.

A private purchase is exactly that – someone is selling a horse privately and not through a claiming race. You tend to see this happen as meets wind down and stables are trying to pare their numbers before heading to the next locale. Many top stables will shed nice horses that don’t fit into their New York or California allowance plans but will work out very nicely at mid-level tracks like Canterbury.

This week we had both options open to us. Jeff was offered a private purchase on a maiden out of Oaklawn and Clay and I were looking at a mid-level claimer at Hawthorne. I’m not going to mention their names because we may still be interested and I don’t want to tip our hand at all. The maiden looked to be a good price based upon his record and could probably work through his conditions around $7500 here. The claimer, if healthy, looked like he could compete in the $16,000 to perhaps even $20,000 range – AND we would have gotten him for less, which I love.

In the span of about 12 hours, the Oaklawn horse was sold before we could take a look and our claiming target was scratched. I went from thinking that by the end of the day yesterday we would be all set to start our season to going back to the drawing board!

In this game there is always another race and with the weekend is coming up, we’ll just try, try again.

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Shopping and New MVP Cards

Now that the Club is rounded out (202 members) and the paperwork to get the group licensed in Illinois is complete, it’s time to go shopping. Here are some bullet points on what we are generally looking for, though there are not hard and fast rules:

– The budget for 2 horses is right around $20,000. That could mean 2 $10,000 horses or other combinations. I like that level because there is the possibility to run for decent purse money while there are a few levels below just in case we need to drop down in class;

– A consistent finisher. This means, to me, a horse that we know if we run in the right spot we have a shot a winning since he’ll always give us an honest effort. A lot in the money finishes sprinkled with some wins is an indication that we have one that enjoys running and will give us a shot;

– Try an avoid a reclamation project. ASK EDDY was wonderful for us last year but we also got lucky. He was able to make up for his being on the bench for an extended period but usually when you get a project – especially with a group that has a short horizon – you run out of time before you can possibly earn your money back.

Claim Process

Prior to the race Clay and I will determine if there is a horse we want to go after. Clay will fill out the “claim slip” designating the horse that we want to buy, sign it and put it in a locked box in either the racing or bookkeeper’s office. When the race goes off the box is unlocked and the claim slip(s) are examined. If we have the only slip, properly filled out, we own the horse. If there is more than one slip on the same horse, each slip is given a number and similarly numbered balls are dropped in a bottle. The bottle is shaken, tilted and the first numbered ball falls out indicates the winner of the claim and the new owner of the horse.

The old owner of the horse wins any purse money while the new owner of the horse is responsible for the horse the moment the gate opens and the horse is considered a starter.

New MVP Cards

In case you are unaware, Canterbury Park has installed a new player tracking system which necessitates that everyone pick up a new MVP card – if you haven’t already done so over the last few weeks. You have all been entered into the system and just need to show your ID at one of the information desks to pick up your new card/first card. The new cards are necessary for you to receive your free admission throughout the season, so please remember to stop by and pick up your new card as the old cards are no longer active.

Next Step – A Horse (or Two!)

The final accounting isn’t quite completed yet but we know one thing: 2014 is another year of record membership for the Canterbury Racing Club. Thanks to all that joined to make that possible. The only question that remains is: did we make it to 200 members? We should know in the next few days and also have the final accounting of just how much money we have to spend, though it looks like it will be slightly more than last year or just over $50,000.

This weekend I will be completing the Club’s ownership license application for Illinois as well as the application to claim. Clay and I have already looked at a few and are keeping an eye on others so really anytime from next week could be the pick up of the first horse.

The plan is to try and claim a couple of horses around $10,000. This would allow us to run for more money over the summer, hopefully have a couple of horses that we can move up in class or, if necessary, have some downside if we need to drop in class to get a win.

When the final tally is added up, we’ll post the final Club totals and we’ll also keep you posted on claims.