By Noah Joseph
This Saturday, Canterbury Park is hosting one of its biggest days in track history.
Saturday will consist of the Jockeys and Jeans benefit, a national fundraiser aiding the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Jockeys and Jeans is a traveling event which is being held at Canterbury this year. The day will also include the inaugural Mystic Lake Northern Stars Racing Festival, which features five stakes races with $500,000 in combined prize money. This series of races is designed to bring in some of the best horses, owner, trainers, and jockeys from around the country. A day like this may echo back to days of old at Canterbury.
In 1986, the track had its inaugural “Filly for a Fan” contest, where one lucky fan won a racehorse to own and race. Other events that season included giveaways and big races. Another popular event in the 80’s was a whole week of festivities for the Saint Paul Derby, Canterbury’s richest race at the time, some of which included parades, horse workout shows, and a post-position draw and luncheon. Events like these took place both on and off the track. When they occurred during the week of the anniversary of Canterbury’s opening, a giant birthday cake in the shape of a horseshoe was made to celebrate.
In the late 80’s, Minnesota was swept up by the fun and excitement of the Minnesota Twins winning their first World Series title. After another fantastic season in 1988, the Twins held a celebration at Canterbury, with many Twins players and management in attendance. One lucky fan had a chance to win part ownership of a racehorse with the Twins in a partnership called the Dome Boys. The Twins owning horses fared as well as the Twins record right now (Just kidding).
In 1989, Canterbury had specialty themed weekends all season, from Triple Crown themed weekends, to the Canterbury Horse Fair, to Riverboat Weekend, and many more. Each weekend was something new, and there was always something for everyone. Current themed weekends include Street Art Festival, Indian Horse Relay, and Canterbury Carnival.
So, Saturday’s big day of events will bring back memories from the past, and create new ones for the future.