At the annual awards banquet for the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association Saturday night, guest speakers Ralph Strangis and Jim Lane, both members of the Minnesota Racing Commission, outlined some of the priorities facing the racing commission in 2015.
Strangis opened the proceedings drawing a contrast between his first tenure at the Commission two decades ago and his second tenure which started in 2013 when he was appointed by Governor Mark Dayton to serve as Chair.
“When Canterbury first opened,” Strangis said, “the Turf Cub was a place you dressed up to go to and everybody wanted to be there. Back then you had one race track and no card club. Now we have two race tracks and two card clubs – it’s a completely different oversight dynamic.”
Strangis noted that the card clubs now are the main revenue drivers at the racetracks. Because of that, the fate of the two tracks are inexorably linked and more needs to be done to build upon the success of the card clubs to further drive revenue to purse accounts and breeders’ funds.
“Addressing the ADW, Advanced Deposit Wagering, issue in Minnesota is high on our agenda,” Strangis said, addressing the state’s longstanding ban on wagering outside of the racetracks. “Minnesota is one of the few states that does not allow ADW and is missing out on its share of the billions of dollars bet on racing throughout the country.”
“We all need to work together to find ways to continue to increase revenue for the two tracks as well as raise awareness in the community of what is available at both locations,” Strangis concluded.
Commissioner Lane, the MRC representative to the Breeders’ Fund Advisory Committee, appealed to the MTA membership to offer suggestions on how best to modify the state’s breeders’ fund to the benefit of the breeding industry.
“I don’t believe that we have taken advantage of the Mystic Lake agreement to jigger the Breeders’ Fund to make it more profitable to farms and breeders to participate in the advancement of the industry,” Lane said.
Lane outlined four specific areas where he would like input on potential change:
– A potential change to the definition of what makes a horse a Minnesota bred;
– Possible redefining the requirements for mare’s residency in the state before foaling;
– Stallion breedback requirements;
– How purse supplements could be altered to promote the quality of racing.
“Currently there is very little benefit to boarding and foaling farms if mares only need to be in the state in March before they foal. A longer residency requirement would be a huge benefit for that segment of the industry,” Lane said.
Lane also suggested the possibility of redirecting more of the purse supplements to open company versus restricted racing as a way to incentivize breeders to breed for quality.
It is hoped that at the March 29th general membership meeting of the MTA there will be some consensus on suggestions so that the Commission can begin work on the promulgation of new rules to guide breeding in the state.