Canterbury Park’s Extreme Race Day, now in its eighth year, will be held Saturday, July 19. Exhibition races with camels, ostriches, and zebras have become the main draw on Extreme Day, last year’s attendance was a record 20,291, but this season the program will include the return of ‘The Battle of the Surfaces.’ This pari-mutuel race will feature 20 horses, the largest field in North American racing in 2014, competing against each other simultaneously at one and one-sixteenth miles on the turf and one mile on the dirt.
The two starting gates will be staggered so that the final time of the race is approximated to be the same for both the turf and dirt. Canterbury Park officials have analyzed the varying speed of the turf and dirt courses as well as the class of the horses competing, and have judged that the closest finish would result from the turf horses racing an extra one-sixteenth of a mile. The starting gate stalls will open in unison and it will be up to handicappers to determine which horses will be the best when the horses finish at the same finish line in front of the grandstand. Twelve thoroughbreds have been entered for the turf and eight for the dirt.
Each horse will be an individual betting interest with win, place, show, exacta, trifecta, and superfecta wagering offered. The order of finish will be determined by best finish position regardless of which surface the horse is racing on, so it is possible to have an exacta payoff comprised of a horse racing on the turf and a horse racing on the dirt. The Battle of the Surfaces will be the seventh race on a 10-race program.
Canterbury Park was the first track to successfully attempt such a race when it debuted during the 2007 Extreme Day. The following year the starting gates failed to open simultaneously and The Battle of the Surfaces seemed doomed. Canterbury’s Vice President of Racing Operations Eric Halstrom is determined to make it a success this Saturday.
“We showed that this could work in 2007 and the fans loved it. We were disappointed the next year when the gates did not open together, but it was technology that failed us not the race,” Halstrom said. “We have tested and tweaked the gates and the distances to make this an exciting event that race fans will only experience at Canterbury Park and believe we are creating the most unique wagering opportunity in the history of racing for handicappers across the country.”
The 2014 Kentucky Derby field had 19 horses. This 20-horse field of Battle of the Surfaces will be the largest in the country this year.
Ostriches, camels, and zebras will again be a part of Extreme Race Day, presented by the Minnesota State Lottery, with exhibition races being conducted throughout the afternoon.
Horse racing begins at 12:45 p.m. General admission is $8.00 for adults. Children 17 and under are admitted free. Parking is free. Family Day activities including pony rides, face painting and a petting zoo will also be offered.