66-day meet runs through Sept. 14 and includes popular promotional days
Canterbury Park will celebrate its 25th season of live horse racing with a two-day opening weekend, Friday, May 3 and Saturday, May 4. Saturday also includes a simulcast of the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs, the most well-known race in the U.S. dubbed the ‘most exciting two minutes in sports.’ Canterbury Park’s 66-day season will run through Sept. 14. Weeknight racing, including May 3, will begin at 6:00 p.m., 30-minutes earlier than past seasons. The Saturday, May 4, live program begins at 12:45 p.m. The Derby is scheduled to be run at 5:50 p.m. Advance wagering will be available beginning May 2.
“This is a milestone season for our fans and supporters of Minnesota horse racing,” Canterbury Park president and CEO Randy Sampson said. “From the early days when we were given little chance to succeed to where we are now with a growing fan base, a successful card casino, and development of the property underway, it has been a remarkable and wild ride. We owe a lot to those that believed from the beginning that this could happen in Shakopee.”
The suburban Minneapolis racetrack originally opened in 1985 as Canterbury Downs but closed shortly after the 1992 season concluded. Randy Sampson, his father Curtis, and businessman Dale Schenian purchased the track and surrounding property in 1994 and re-opened for simulcast racing in May of that year. With a new name, Canterbury Park, and a business plan that included year-round simulcasting, special events, and the notion of land development in the future, live horse racing returned to the state in the summer of 1995.
Racing on weekends and holidays in 2019 will begin at 12:45 p.m. with a few exceptions. Saturdays, June 22, Aug. 10 and 24 will have 5:00 p.m. post times. The popular July 3 racing program and fireworks display that last year attracted more than 21,000 spectators will return and a fireworks encore has been added on July 4. Both race cards will begin at 4:00 p.m. followed by fireworks and live music at dusk.
Canterbury Park continues the tradition of entertaining dog races with Corgis, Dachshunds, Bassets and Bulldogs drawing large crowds each year. Those breeds, competing between horse races, return this summer: English Bulldogs race May 26; Basset Hounds on Father’s Day, June 16; Wiener Dogs July 27; and Corgis Aug. 18. The 12 fastest dogs from each of those days return for an encore on Labor Day, Sept. 2, in the Bark In The Park Championship.
Minnesota Festival of Champions, a day featuring the best racehorses bred in the state, will be held Sept. 1 and will offer a record $700,000 in purse money. Indian Horse Relay, a daring display of bare back racing, takes place Aug. 22 through 24. The entire promotional schedule can be found here.
Thursdays, beginning June 6, are Buck Night with $1 admission and $1, $2, and $3 food and beverage specials. Fridays are billed as Music In The Park with live music on the Mystic Lake® Music Stage. Sunday race days are again Pepsi Family Day with free pony rides and face painting for children.
Improvements and facelifts to the facility took place again over the winter as Canterbury officials continue to invest in the fan experience. The south end of track level now features a grand entrance to the Card Casino and recently opened Trifecta Café which serves Italian, Asian, and American Comfort Food menus as well as personal pizzas baked in a stone oven. A coffee shop, named Morning Line Brew and serving premium Starbucks® coffees, will be open each racing day. On the second level of the grandstand is Pit Boss offering authentic Texas barbecue. Flooring on track level was removed to reveal a polished concrete finish.
General admission to Canterbury Park is $7, with an additional charge for reserved seating. There are 10 designated Premium Days when general admission is $9. Children 17 and under are admitted free. General parking is free. For additional information and to purchase tickets, call the Canterbury Box Office at (952) 445-7224.
Live Race Dates: May 3 through Sept. 14
Racing Days and Times
Thursdays beginning June 6 – 6:00 p.m.
Fridays – 6:00 p.m. except Sept. 13 at 5:00 p.m.
Saturdays and Sundays – 12:45 p.m. except June 22, Aug. 10 and 24 at 5:00 p.m.
Holidays – 12:45 p.m. except July 4 at 4:00 p.m.
July 3 – Special 4:00 p.m. post time
Friday, May 3 – Opening Night with 6:00 p.m. racing
Saturday, May 4* – Kentucky Derby Day. Live racing begins at 12:45 p.m.
Monday, May 26* – Running of the English Bulldogs
Memorial Day, May 27 – racing at 12:45 p.m. with Memorial Day Salute to Service
Saturday, June 8* – Belmont Stakes T-Shirt Giveaway
Sunday, June 16* – Father’s Day – Bassett Hound Races
Saturday, June 22 – Mystic Lake Northern Stars Racing Festival featuring Mystic Lake Derby
Friday, June 28 – Canterbury Uncorked
Wednesday, July 3* – 4:00 p.m. racing. Fireworks Spectacular and live music presented by Kwik Trip after the races.
Wednesday, July 4* – 4:00 p.m. racing with encore fireworks display and Fourth of July activities
Saturday, July 27* – Wiener Dog Races & Donuts
Saturday, August 4* – Unicorn & Llama Races
Saturday, August 10 – Made in Minnesota Day featuring Minnesota Oaks and Derby
Saturday, August 18* – Corgi Races & Cupcake Festival
Thursday – Saturday, August 22-24 – Indian Horse Relay & Indian Market
Sunday, September 1 – $700,000 Minnesota Festival of Champions – the best state-bred horses compete.
Monday, Sept. 2* – Bark In The Park Championships
Saturday, Sept. 14 – Final day of Live Racing
*indicates Premium Day
About Canterbury Park
Visit Canterbury Park in RiverSouth–Land of Big Fun! RiverSouth℠ is a collaboration promoting premier entertainment destinations just minutes south of Minneapolis. With four of Minnesota’s biggest attractions just four miles apart, there’s fun around every bend. Partners include Canterbury Park, Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Valleyfair, and the Renaissance Festival.