The Great Rains of 2007

By Noah Joseph

This weekend at Canterbury is a special one. This weekend is when we hold the annual Indian Horse Relay races. In addition to this exciting and brave display of horsemanship, Canterbury will hold three stakes races: the $50,000 Minnesota H.B.P.A Distaff; the $50,000 Brooks Fields Stakes; and the $50,000 Mystic Lake Turf Sprint. These stakes races are on the grass and will hopefully not have to be moved to the main track due to weather. But in 2007, the weekend was one of two that year which felt the pain of the rain.

While the week between August 19th and 24th 12 years ago may stand out, to start this story, we have to travel back to the opening day of the season. That was May 5th, 2007, Kentucky Derby day. A crowd of more than 16,000 fans came to Canterbury to celebrate a new year of racing in Minnesota and the run for the roses at Churchill Downs. And while the sun may have been shining bright on my old Kentucky home, the sun had performed a vanishing act in Shakopee. Dark clouds loomed above as the heavens opened and a storm hit the track. A massive downpour combined with occasional lightning and thunder sent fans scurrying for cover as the horses made their way to the track for the first race of the season. The race was won in the rain and on a sloppy track by the British bred Chasm. The rain did stop eventually and the sun did come out in time for the Kentucky Derby, yet fans who were at Canterbury on that first Saturday in May will not forget it.

Canterbury would once again have to deal with another washout that year, this time on Festival of Champions day. One of the crowning jewels of the season was held on August 19th. While it may have been summer, the weather was more spring-like. A cool 59 degree Sunday afternoon was accompanied by over an inch and a half of rain that fell throughout the card, turning the track into a miniature lake. The turf races were taken off and moved to a main track that had the look of wet cement.

Despite this unkindly act by act by Mother Nature, there were some moments that brightened up that gray day, such as dominating performances from the ladies like Glitter Star and Sentimental Charm and easy victories from the boys like Careless Navigator and Smithtown Bay. This day proved that while nature is powerful, the racehorse, and its ability to thrive in it, is also a force to be reckoned with.

This weekend’s card looks promising weather-wise. It looks to be dry with lots of sunshine Thursday and Friday. Saturday also looks dry for the stakes. Sunday could be wet as there is rain predicted, but no one truly knows yet and meteorologists are as accurate as public handicappers!  Regardless, we can all remember the great rains of 2007.

Canterbury Park 2019 Stakes Schedule Features Record MN Festival of Champions Purses

Canterbury Park’s 2019 thoroughbred stakes schedule includes 31 races worth $2.235 million and will again cluster many of the most popular and lucrative races on single days.

The Shakopee, Minn., horse track’s richest race, the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby on Saturday, June 22, will be the highlight of the Northern Stars Racing Festival along with four other stakes totaling $500,000 in purses. Last year, the inaugural event produced a Canterbury Park wagering record of $2.068 million.

Each of the six thoroughbred stakes races that make up the 26th Minnesota Festival of Champions on Sept. 1 will be worth $100,000. The Northern Lights Futurity and Debutante were increased to six-figure purses in 2018 while the Sprint, Distaff Sprint, Classic, and Distaff Classic receive $25,000 increases in 2019.

“Minnesota Festival of Champions will offer a record single-day purse payout for Canterbury Park with the total purse distribution approaching $850,000,” senior director of racing Andrew Offerman said. Minnesota Festival Day is dedicated to horses bred in Minnesota. “When purses increased in 2012, owners and breeders really stepped up the quality of Minnesota-breds, and they continue to be rewarded with rich stakes as the industry continues to improve.”

A 2012 cooperative marketing and purse enhancement agreement reached with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, owners and operators of nearby Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, provides $83 million toward purse supplements and joint marketing of the two properties over its 10-year term.

Saturday, Aug. 10, Minnesota-Made Day, will serve as a Minnesota Festival preview with five state-bred thoroughbred stakes totaling $350,000, including the $100,000 Minnesota Derby and Minnesota Oaks. Grouped on Aug. 24 are the Mystic Lake Turf Express, Brooks Fields Stakes, and HBPA Distaff.

The first condition book is available online along with stall applications, due March 18. Both are available here.

The 66-day live racing season begins May 3 and runs through Sept. 14.

2019 Stakes Schedule

2019 TB Simple Stakes Schedule (2)