LAWMAKERS GET INVITE TO TOUR CANTERBURY
by JIM WELLS
Invitations will go out today inviting Minnesota lawmakers to a Canterbury Park excursion designed to show them the jobs, benefits and extended economy that horse racing provides in the state.
Horsemen hope to educate the state’s legislators on the infrastructure of the horse business in Minnesota and to illuminate the industry behind what many lawmakers regard strictly as a gambling enterprise.
The tour of Canterbury is planned for Aug. 15 and will include visits to the backside and the grandstand as well as a luncheon accompanied by presentations from people active in the business and regulation of horse racing in Minnesota.
Horsemen are hopeful that if lawmakers become familiar with racing’s ties to the agricultural segment of the state they might gain an appreciation for its importance to local and state economics.
“We’re hopeful that we can get 15 to 20 legislators out here,” said Jim Olson, who is helping spearhead the plan.
Horsemen will renew the bid to acquire casino gaming at Minnesota’s two racetracks in the upcoming legislative session, and hope to acquire support for the plan with the educational excursion.
The day will begin with an 8 a.m. continental breakfast and tour of the backside including sessions with trainers, visits to the starting gate, test barn and veterinarian’s office, shedrow, the stables and dorm rooms, chapel, racing office and dental clinic.
Lawmakers will be given a tour of the press box and stewards’ office in the grandstand, followed by a lunch and short presentations about the business and regulation of the racing industry.
They will be invited to to stay for the races.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” said Olson, “but we’ve got the ball rolling.”
MTA TROTS OUT THE BABIES
The MTA annual yearling sale is scheduled this weekend at Canterbury Park.
The parade of yearlings will be conducted Friday at 4:30 p.m. in the walking ring outside the paddock. The sale is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, following the races.
“We have a pretty strong catalog,” said Kay King, executive director of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association. The MTA started with 57 yearlings but attrition has trimmed the number to 53.
“We always lose a few through sickness or injuries,” King added. “They are babies and find lots of ways to get themselves into trouble.”
Included in the catalog are two Kentucky-bred horses, a Florida-bred and a Maryland-bred. Whenever the sale doesn’t meet a quota of Minnesota-bred horses, the MTA allows for yearlings bred out of state. “Minnesota-breds are preferred and we’ll take up to 75 in the receiving barn,” King said. “If we don’t fill the quota, we’ll fill in with horses foaled from other states.”
This is the first time in recent years that the sale has not included the limit of Minnesota-breds. “We’ve had an also-eligible list the past few years,” King added.
The MTA has excluded the sale to yearlings the past several years after one time running a mixed sale that included weanlings, fillies and colts.
King attributed the drop in yearlings this year to a variety of factors, with the economy as a driving force. “There are probably several reasons,” she said. “Maybe people aren’t breeding as many mares and for the next couple of years we might anticipate not seeing a consignment of many babies. Perhaps people who consigned in the past are racing themselves and keeping their babies and trying to prove their stallions, maintaining control of that to the extent we can.”