It Comes From The Heart

By Mari Ballinger

Whatever Empire Racing Stables does, they do it with passion. The story started long ago, owners Angela and Jason Bullard were young kids, attending horse races with their families at La Mesa Park in New Mexico. Although they didn’t cross paths till later in life, they joked that they “for sure played at the playground together”.

Three years ago, Empire Racing Stables was established. The name comes from Jason’s famous line “I want to build an empire”. Turns out, they have created more than an empire. Currently, they have 23 horses with 19 racing at Canterbury. But, their business mindset goes far beyond the horses. They want to give the ownership experience to anyone who wants it. Empire Racing Stables offers opportunities to co-own a horse and has many members who enjoy barn visits, trips to the Winner’s Circle, tours of the paddock, memorabilia, , and much more.

The overall experience is what keeps them going in the first place. “Our favorite racing memories consist of being at the track with family and friends,” said Angela. “It’s as simple as that.”

The Bullard family live a short eight minutes from the track, so it’s a rare occurrence if they aren’t seen at Canterbury Park between Thursday and Sunday. A lot of time, passion and work have been put into Empire Racing.

And the hard word has definitely paid off. Empire Racing Stables stands as Current Leading Owner, but it wasn’t something that was achieved overnight. Jason grew up playing sports and has always had the athlete’s mindset of winning. In January 2019, he started to do his research: What would it take to win? More importantly, what would it take to become leading owner? After looking into the statistics, Bullard figured with around 20 horses and a tremendous amount of effort and luck, Empire Racing had a shot.

After five months in the making, success has never felt better. “It obviously feels great,” Jason Bullard said. “But I try to not get too high about it.”

Winning isn’t the only thing Empire Racing prioritizes, though. Jason and Angela will be the first to admit how important their jockeys are to them and that’s why the choose to support the Leg Up Fund, a foundation established to provide temporary, transitional support to riders injured at Canterbury as they recover and return to the saddle.

“Two years ago, jockey Dean Butler was riding a horse that broke down,” Jason Bullard explains. “He had to miss the rest of the season and it really made me question how we could give back. He is like family to us and to see his career get taken away from him like that was heartbreaking.”

A ‘Beer Bash’ was held for Butler and $9,000 was raised to help support him during the recovery process.

This past Sunday, Leg Up Day took place at Canterbury Park and Dean Butler participated in the Jockey Hippity Hop Challenge. Of course, he was sponsored by none other than Empire Racing Stables.

Jason and Angela Bullard Have Built a Real Racing Empire

By Rebecca Roush

A lot has changed for racehorse owners Jason and Angela Bullard over the past few years, both with their growing business and their hobby. This husband and wife duo met as children when their parents would take them to La Mesa Park in Raton, New Mexico.

“Since both of us were 9 or 10 years old, we’ve been going out to the race track all the time with family,” Jason said.

After moving to Shakopee years ago they continued to visit the racetrack, now Canterbury Park, with their friends and family. This prompted them to purchase their first horse in 2013 and race under the stable name Empire Racing.

The Bullards now have nine horses in training at Canterbury Park and two at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Illinois. “We have learned a lot in the last six years and have steadily grown in numbers and in quality,” said Jason.

Though they enjoy seeing their horses win, the couple also appreciates the experience of race days. “Coming to the track with friends and family, going to the paddock, and finishing it all up with a winner’s circle photo never gets old,” said Jason.

One piece of advice that the Bullards offer to someone thinking about horse ownership is to “do your homework.” Jason explains that “it is not about what you know, it is who you know. Finding the right team can be a great family experience.” The Bullards have worked with trainer Bernell Rhone since 2013 and have found great success with him as well as Robertino Diodoro and with other owners in partnerships.

The most difficult aspect that Jason says they face is “the emotional highs and lows. One night you have a horse win and the next your horse runs last.” It is this experience that he says makes them second guess their plan of action on occasion.

When the Bullards are not at the racetrack they balance their time between operating their business, Nite Trane Transportation, which offers limousine, party bus, and airport transportation in the Twin Cities, and spending time at the lake with their three children.

Owner Profile: Jason & Angela Bullard

Jason and Angela Bullard

by Megan Johnson

Many of Canterbury Park’s horse owners have a continuing passion for horses and racing, which keeps them coming back for more. ¬†This holds true for Jason and Angela Bullard. Jason, from Oklahoma, and Angela, from Kansas, frequented La Mesa Park, in Raton, New Mexico. “Since both of us were nine or 10 years old, we’ve been going out to the race track all the time with family,” Jason said. “It was kind of the family vacation and peaked our interest.”

The Bullards are now local to Shakopee and continued their family traditions by bringing their friends and family to Canterbury, which resulted in buying their first horse in 2013.

The Bullards, who race under the nom de course Empire Racing, currently own 14 horses, 12 of which are at Canterbury. Bernell Rhone has been training for them since 2013 and they recently teamed up with Robertino Diodoro and Mac Robertson.  In addition to Canterbury, the Bullards also race at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California and Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa.

Although they love winning, the Bullards enjoy the entire experience and atmosphere of racing. “Getting to come out with friends and family when we have a horse run is a big outing,” Jason explained. “We get them all in the paddock and when we’re fortunate to win it’s a lot of fun to have everyone in the winner’s circle,” Jason said with a smile.

Jason tells us to keep a look out for Dog Soldier, one of the Bullard’s top horses, this year in the winner’s circle. From four starts thus far in 2016, Dog Soldier has two wins and two seconds.

Another of the Bullard’s horses, Warren’s Nicholas, won the ninth race on Saturday.

When Jason and Angela aren’t focusing on racing, they stay busy supporting their three children with various sports and activities and operating Nite Trane Transportation, the official transportation of Canterbury Park.

“If we’re not at the horse track, we’re at a sporting event,” said Jason.