Anne M. Eberhardt

Registered Mares in Minnesota Up by 77%

The increase is tied to an agreement that is adding $75 million to purses.

A 2012 agreement that will pump $75 million into purses at Canterbury Park over 10 years continues to have a positive impact on the racing and breeding industry in the state.

The Minnesota Thoroughbred Association said March 21 the number of registered broodmares in the state is up 77% from 2012, according to the Minnesota Racing Commission. The agency's annual report for 2012 lists the number of registered Thoroughbred broodmares at 163, meaning the 2013 figure will at least top 280.

The agreement between Canterbury Park and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, which owns and operates the nearby Mystic Lake Hotel Casino, is the only one of its kind in the United States. The tribe is paying Canterbury in return for the track not pursuing legislation to authorize slot machines at the racetrack.

Canterbury does have a card club that was expanded last year and new games added. The tribal casino has slots and table games.

Purses this year at Canterbury will be about $70,000 a day higher than they were at the start of the 2012 meet. That in turn has sparked breeders and owners to invest in Minnesota-bred horses.

"These numbers are tremendous," MTA president Jay Dailey said. "The cooperative marketing agreement between the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Canterbury Park is really paying dividends throughout the Thoroughbred industry in Minnesota. This increase is a direct result of breeders recognizing that there is money to be made here.

"I know our membership has been very active in purchasing in-foal broodmares as well as broodmare prospects in anticipation of the excellent purses for future foals to be running for at Canterbury Park. I anticipate these numbers will continue to rise over the next few years as well."

Canterbury announced March 20 it has received applications for 2,400 stalls; the facility has 1,600. It's also opening its barn area a week earlier on April 15 to accommodate horsemen.

The number of mares, foals, and stallions in Minnesota is dependent upon the success of Canterbury, the only Thoroughbred track in the state. According to the MRC annual report, the numbers topped out in 1989 with 1,334 registered mares, 844 registered foals, and 141 registered stallions.

Those figures quickly dropped after Canterbury closed in 1992. The Sampson family purchased the track and reopened it in 1994.

There was solid growth in the breeding numbers for a period in the 2000s, but the numbers dropped again later in the decade as Canterbury found itself unable to increase purses. Along with 136 mares in 2012, there were 96 foals and 26 stallions registered with the MRC.

The Minnesota Breeders' Fund last year netted $779,000 for Thoroughbreds from pari-mutuel and card club revenue, with $599,500 going to purse supplements. The balance heading into 2013 was $180,000 with higher supplements planned for 2013.