A Quarter Century of Excellence

Billy Three wins first race at Canterbury Park 1995

By Noah Joseph

A lot has happened in the world of thoroughbred racing in the last 25 years. In that time, horse racing has had 10 horses make a run for the Triple Crown, with two horses winning the three legs: American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018. We saw the first two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner in Tiznow and the first filly to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic in Zenyatta. Wow!

It also has been 25 years since Canterbury Park re-opened for live racing.

Friday begins the 25th year of racing in Minnesota under the name Canterbury Park. The racetrack was purchased by Randy Sampson, his father Curtis, and Dale Schenian. They wanted to bring live racing back to Minnesota after the original track, Canterbury Downs, closed in 1992. Re-opening day was May 19, 1995, and since that glorious day in May, racing has been here to stay.

The Shakopee, Minn. racetrack has given Minnesota racing fans many good times, and has been home to champions and legendary horses such as Honor The Hero, K Z Bay, Crocrock, Wally’s Choice, Glitter Star, Heliskier, and A.P Is Loose, all overseen and trained by leading trainers like Bernell Rhone, Doug Oliver, David Van Winkle, Troy Bethke, Mac Robertson, Joe Sharp, and Robertino Diodoro, and ridden by some of the best jockeys such as Scott Stevens, Paul Nolan, Derek Bell, Luis Quinonez, Mike Ziegler, Dean Butler, Jareth Loveberry, Alex Canchari, and Ry Eikleberry.

Other great moments included record-breaking milestones (the largest crowd in track history on July 3, 2016, for one) great days of racing (like the inaugural Mystic Lake Northern Stars Racing Festival in 2018), and the 10-year joint marketing and purse enhancement agreement of 2012 with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, owners and operators of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. Canterbury has weathered the storms of tough times, too, including the 2011 Government Shutdown which halted racing for 21 days. Through it all, Canterbury has continued grow on a local and national level, and is thriving, with the good times continuing to roll.

So now it is time to return to the track, this time with a milestone. Happy 25th anniversary Canterbury Park! Here’s to many more!

Live racing resumes Friday at 6:00 p.m.

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