Agreement will revive horse industry

In reference to the Austin Post-Bulletin's article last week, "Canterbury-tribe deal is no help for Mower County's last quarter horse breeder" I would like to offer a bit broader perspective on the agreement between Canterbury Park and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

While I respect Mr. Saurer's opinion, it is important to make clear that his view does not reflect the opinion of the major horse organizations in Minnesota: The Minnesota HBPA, Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Association, Minnesota Thoroughbred Association and the Equine Development Coalition of Minnesota.

Each of these groups strongly supports this agreement. In stark contrast to Mr. Saurer's view, members of the major horse organizations expect this historic agreement will rejuvenate Minnesota's horse industry. And, to be clear, this was an industry that badly needed the major shot in the arm this agreement will provide.

Horsemen were leaving Minnesota in droves due to shrinking purses, while the number of state-bred foals dwindled year after year. It's no overstatement to say the industry was in a death spiral.

Increasing purses was our only hope. And after being personally involved in trying to get a racino bill passed for some 15 years, through many changes in leadership, one thing became clear: the state legislature was not going to pass a racino bill.


With help from Gov. Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Zellers and other key legislators, meetings were arranged between Canterbury and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. And what quickly became clear is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community understood the desperate situation facing Minnesota's horse industry. And, for the first time, compromise and hope for the industry was on the horizon.

Purses for thoroughbred and quarter horse racing will double next year and continue to climb after that. This agreement will certainly not provide a windfall to Canterbury's owners, but the millions put into purses will help Minnesota's horse industry to grow again. The addition of $75 million for purses and $8.5 for marketing over 10 years will bring nationally competitive racing back to Minnesota.

That will make farmers, veterinarians, truckers, fence-builders and many other workers across the state a little more successful next year. Canterbury Park will remain a valued tradition in American Quarter Horse racing. Races will not get any easier to win, because Canterbury will draw more competitive horses from both locally and nationally, but that is what drives horse racing to succeed; full fields and strong competition.

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