Canterbury Park Opens Looking to Build on 2020 Success

Strong opening week entries encourage track officials; 10 percent $.50 Pick 5 and 10 percent $1 Pick 6 highlight wagering menu

Canterbury Park’s 65-day thoroughbred and quarter horse race meet, which begins tonight at 5PM CDT, attracted 248 entries in 27 races, not including 12 also-eligible entries, for the first three days of the season. With nine thoroughbred races each on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, field size averages 9.2 horses per race. Exceptional participation by trainers can be attributed to a population of more than 1,100 thoroughbreds and a $1,000 bonus, paid directly to the owner of each starter. The horse population is expected to increase over the coming weeks while the bonus extends to all open overnight races during the month of May.

“I have a feeling this is going to be a great meet,” racing secretary Rob Junk said. “We have a lot of trainers returning, and some new stables as well. I expect they came to race.” Mac Robertson, leading trainer in 13 previous Canterbury Park meets, has entered 19 horses opening week. Canterbury mainstays Mike Biehler, Tony Rengstorf, Troy Bethke and Bernell Rhone have a strong presence as has been the case for more than 25 seasons. Robertino Diodoro, who last year had fewer horses than past meets, this summer intends to fill more than 50 stalls. Joel Berndt, 2020 leading trainer, also will have a full barn in Shakopee this summer.

Trainer Justin Evans, unseen at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack since 2008, returned with 25 horses. Dick Cappellucci and Bennie Woolley, Jr., winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby with Mine That Bird, have stables at Canterbury for the first time.

Track officials announced in April that a $.50 Pick 5 wager with an industry-low 10 percent takeout would return to the 2021 the wagering menu. The industry-low takeout rate was introduced last year and the success of that wager led officials to introduce a traditional $1 Pick 6 also with an industry low 10 percent takeout.

In 2020, the Pick 5 averaged $79,500 in wagering handle per pool and totaled more than $4.1 million throughout the season. Both were substantial increases over 2019 when the wager attracted an average Jackpot Pick 5 Pool of $8,366 and season-total wagering of slightly more than $550,000.

Canterbury Park all-sources handle in 2020 amounted to $68.4 million, easily setting a Canterbury Park record by more than $20 million in total handle and an increase of 68 percent over the prior year, all while conducting 12 fewer days of racing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, average daily handle increased in 2020 by a staggering 110 percent when compared to the 2019 meet.

Twenty-one jockeys were listed on the overnight for May 18 not including last season’s leading rider Ry Eikleberry who will serve a three-day suspension stemming from a riding foul occurring at the end of the 2020 season. Several accomplished riders have joined the colony including journeymen Lindey Wade, Ty Kennedy and multiple graded stakes winning rider Ruben Fuentes who most recently rode at Santa Anita.

Racing will be conducted Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 5PM CDT and select holidays and Sundays at 1PM CDT through Sept. 16. More information is available at canterburypark.com.