Canterbury Park begins its 67-day live horse racing season with a two-day weekend that starts Friday at 4 p.m. with an eight-race card. Racing continues Saturday at 1:45 p.m. There will be nine live races Saturday and a simulcast of the 143rd Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs. Wagering on Kentucky Derby Day traditionally attracts more wagering dollars than any other at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack. Post time for the Kentucky Derby is projected to be 5:45 p.m.
“Live horse racing is back at Canterbury Park, a sure sign of spring,” track president Randy Sampson said. “We are beginning two weeks earlier than we have for the past eight seasons so that we can combine live racing excitement with the thrills of the Kentucky Derby. This will be a terrific kick-off to what we hope is a record race meet.”
The Kentucky Oaks, also from Churchill, will be simulcast during Friday’s live racing program. Fridays are billed as Minnesota’s Biggest Happy Hour with several food and drink specials throughout the facility. Live music will be provided by Tim Mahoney on the Mystic Lake Music Stage. General admission is $7 on Friday.
On Saturday, Canterbury hosts the Biggest Kentucky Derby Party in Minnesota featuring live music from Boogie Wonderland, and a Derby Hat Contest and Red Carpet Selfie Station presented by the Minnesota State Lottery. General admission on Saturday is $9, with an additional charge for indoor, reserved seating. Children 17 and younger are admitted free all season. There is no cost for general parking.
Two $50,000 Stakes Races Saturday
Entries have been drawn for the first two stakes of the 2017 Canterbury Park meet. The $50,000 L’Etoile du Nord Stakes, 5 ½ furlongs for fillies and mares, will be run as the second race. It will be headlined by likely favorite D R C’s Pretty Sky, a 4-year-old filly trained by Robertino Diodoro and ridden by new-comer J.D. Acosta. Though she has been winless in 2017, her only races have been in stakes company at Oaklawn Park, where she put in a couple of decent efforts early in the year.
The $50,000 5 ½ furlong Paul Bunyon Stakes will be run as the sixth race and will feature the 5-year-old Minnesota-bred Hold For More. Hold for More is trained by Francisco Bravo, ridden by last year’s leading rider Dean Butler, and owned by vice chairman of Canterbury’s board of directors Dale Schenian of South St. Paul, Minnesota. The 5-year-old gelding is third in all-time earnings in the history of Canterbury with $293,200 in purses, only $46,800 behind the reigning all-time leader in earnings, Crocrock, who was also trained by Bravo and owned by Schenian. He is coming into the race off of an allowance win, his only race so far this year, at Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma on April 18. He is currently 8 for 15 lifetime, and has finished first or second in all but one of his career starts.
Other Notes …
As mentioned earlier, J.D. Acosta is a new addition to the Canterbury Park jockey colony. He spent his winter riding primarily at Aqueduct in New York, but stayed very busy winning races there as well as in Charlestown in West Virginia and Parx in Pennsylvania.
“He wanted to go somewhere where he could ride the whole card,” said his agent Bill Castle, a well-known agent in New York. “He’s a young guy and he’s won more than 3,000 races. We made some calls to some trainers over there and everyone seemed really receptive and willing to give a chance to a new, qualified rider coming in. I think he’s a great fit for that circuit, and he’s got an excellent shot to be really successful out there. Everyone we’ve talked to has spoken so highly of Canterbury Park and what a great place it is to race, so he’s really looking forward to working hard and having a good meet there!”
In the first two days of entries, Acosta is already named on horses for several of the top trainers at Canterbury.
Trainer Jeff Metz will also be giving Canterbury Park a try this summer. He has most recently been training, running and winning races at Golden Gate and Santa Anita in California, Emerald Downs in Washington and Turf Paradise in Arizona. Thus far in 2017, more than 41% of his starters have finished in the top 3.
notes provided by Katie Merritt
Katie Merritt is a senior at the University of Kentucky and currently an intern in the Canterbury Park Press Box. Before returning to school she galloped at several tracks around the country, but spent the majority of her time working for Carl Nafzger and Ian Wilkes.