By Katie Merritt
Owners Craig and Janie Bishop are from a small town about 85 miles south of Canterbury Park, Blooming Prairie, where they have a 1500 acre farm with Craig’s brother and sister in law. On that farm, they raise corn, beans, a little bit of alfalfa hay, and of course horses. Craig and Janie have been active breeders in the Minnesota Thoroughbred industry for the last 31 years, which eventually led to ownership of the racehorses that didn’t meet their reserve at the sales as youngsters.
Before they entered into the Thoroughbred industry, the Bishops’ focus was on breeding Quarter Horses and Draft Horses for pleasure riding.
“I thought if I had four or five really good Quarter Horse mares and just raised babies, I could sell the babies and not have to be so involved with breaking them to ride and all that,” explained Craig. However, he soon found that in order to be successful breeders in the pleasure horse industry, their horses needed to be broken to ride as well as taken to shows before buyers developed interest. “We’ve always loved horses, and wanted to have them on the farm, so we started with the Thoroughbreds,” said Craig, adding, “It intrigued me that I could have good mares, a good stallion, raise good colts, and all I basically had to do was teach them to lead, pick up all their feet, have them ready for a sale, and I could sell them.”
Now, the Bishops only have one stallion, Sam Lord’s Castle, and two broodmares, but over the years they have had four stallions and as many as 14 broodmares on their farm. “We’ve been pretty successful,” said Craig, “I think we’ve sold four Northern Lights winners, and Bella Notte (a multiple stakes winning filly) was out of our stallion Quick Cut.” Their favorite horse to watch run was another horse sired by Quick Cut, Wally’s Choice, who won several stakes races including the Grade III Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park. “We really watched the horses out of our stallions, and Wally’s Choice did so well – it was really fun!” said Janie.
For Craig and Janie, the objective has always been to take the horses that they breed to the sale and sell them, but if the horse does not bring a reasonable price, then they take them home and race them. “Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice, if I could afford to, I’d run them all. It’s fun, you enjoy it,” said Craig with a smile. They currently have two horses in training with Lynn and Red Rarick that they enjoy watching run, but they get just as much enjoyment watching the horses that they’ve sold run for other people. Even though they’re no longer involved personally with them, they still like to see them do well, and even stand to profit if they do, “With the Breeder’s Fund, we get paid back the money as the breeder, even if we don’t own them anymore,” pointed out Janie, “So it’s a good incentive!”
The Bishops clearly love horses, and enjoy both the breeding and racing sectors of the Thoroughbred industry. They of course love getting their picture taken in the Winner’s Circle, but they are also very grateful for the people that they’ve met through their equine endeavors. “Truly, with the breeding and with running horses, it’s been amazing, all the great people that we’ve met and gotten to know,” beamed Janie. Even if the Bishops are one day no longer involved in the business side of racing, you can bet they will still be coming to the track. “I keep telling her I’d like to get out in three years, but I said that three years ago!” laughed Craig – to which his wife responded with a smile, “He’s not too good with math!”