Thanksgiving Week at Canterbury Park Race Book

Tampa Bay Downs begins its 94th season of racing this Wednesday with an 11:25 a.m. first post.  Long-time local race fans will notice a familiar face offering selections in the competitive fields as Matt Carothers will handle those duties for the 90-day season. Carothers was Canterbury’s racing analyst in the early Park years before leaving for Monmouth and eventually TVG. Richard Grunder handles lead vocals as always.

To celebrate the start of the popular race meet, Canterbury Park Race Book will offer a 5 percent rebate on all Tampa Bay Downs wagers made Wednesday using an MVP Rewards card. The rebate will be awarded in the form of MVP Rewards points.

The Fair Grounds in New Orleans returns to the tradition of opening on Thanksgiving Day and Canterbury has all the action covered. Fair Grounds’ nine-race card begins at noon and features the Thanksgiving Classic Stakes.  Holiday racing Thursday also includes Churchill Downs,  Aqueduct and Golden Gate Fields. Here is the simulcast calendar for the remainder of the month.

The popular Black Friday Giveaway returns in both the Card Casino and the Race Book with 140 prize winners building wide.  Drawings for multiple winners will be held every half hour in each location from noon to 5:30 p.m. with an Unclaimed Prize Drawing at 6 p.m.

Check these links for participation details in both the Card Casino and Race Book and how you keep your MVP Rewards card active throughout the promotion.

Handicapping contests this week include the Thursday through Saturday Horse Player World Series Super Satellite and the return of In The Money Contest both Friday and Saturday.

Horse Player World Series Satellite Saturday – In The Money Must Pay

Saturday’s $100 entry-fee HPWS Satellite handicapping contest will qualify at least one player for an entry, accommodations, and $450 for airfare to the 2018 Horse Player World Series at The Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas the week of March 8.

The total prize package is valued at $2,450.

This satellite is a mythical $2 Win Place format with entrants making 10 plays on races of their choice during the contest time window which is roughly 11am until 5:30pm (contest-eligible races will be posted). Points are earned based on mutuel prices with caps at $60 and $40.

For every 25 entries one player wins a HPWS entry.  Additional entry fees are paid as prize money to the next highest score.

Once in Vegas, entrants do battle for three days, making mythical plays on 15 races each day with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash on the line.

Local handicapper Bruce Meyer qualified for the HPWS two years ago by winning an entry in a Canterbury satellite. “It’s a bomb tossing affair,” he said. “If you are a mythical-money tournament player, this contest is for you. The best thing about it is that it is held at The Orleans. It’s an old-school casino. The Prime Rib Loft speaks for itself.”

In The Money Must Pay On Saturday

Last Saturday there was one player, known as The Biscuit, alive into the final race of the 10-race Fair Grounds card which was the contest track for the In The Money Contest.  The Biscuit had successfully navigated his way through the first nine races using a mix of favorites and mid-priced horses. To win the contest each selection must finish in the top three.  Players were eliminated left and right leaving only The Biscuit still standing and just one race separating him and the prize money. His race 10 pick took late money dropping from 3 to 1 to 9/5 favoritism as the gates popped. From there things went the wrong way and The Biscuit’s horse faded to finish last.

All of this means that on Saturday the In The Money Contest will be a must pay with the prize money, guaranteed to be at least $750, going to the player or players that survive the longest. Again, each selection must finish in the top three to avoid elimination. The contest track will be Santa Anita. Entry to the contest is $10 and players may have only one entry.

Handicapper of the Year Comes Down to the Wire

The 2017 Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year will be determined Saturday. Contest players earn points throughout the year playing both free-to-enter and pay-to-enter handicapping contests.  The player accumulating the most points wins the honors, a trophy, and $2,000 in cash.  Second place receives $500. The current standings look like this:

Mike Ferrozzo   13

Pamela Kight      12

Bruce Meyer      10

Bob Cyza              8

Mike Daniels      8

Saturday’s HPWS Satellite will award three points to the winner and two to the second place finisher. Mike Ferrozzo is in the driver’s seat. Pamela Kight needs a top two finish in that contest to pass him or to win In The Money and earn the one point that contest awards to achieve a tie and force a playoff.  Bruce Meyer has won Handicapper of the Year four times and is in with a shot as well.

The quest for 2018 HOY begins January 4 when another series of HPWS super satellites begins.

Handicapping Contests This Week

The final in a series of Horse Player World Series Super Satellite Contests will be held this Thursday through Saturday.  Each day there are three contest tracks from which to choose. Players pay a $10 entry fee for each day they would like to enter, select one track from the three options, and select one horse in each of the first eight races. Points are awarded for each selection based on mutuel payouts and the highest scores win a $100 entry to the Final on Dec. 30 where a trip to Las Vegas to play in the Horse Player World Series will be up for grabs. There is one $100 entry given for each 10 entries over the three days.   Find the rules HERE.

There were no winners in Saturday’s In The Money Handicapping Contest so the prize pool carries forward to this Saturday, Dec. 23. There will be a minimum of $500 in the pool. The contest track is Fair Grounds which has a 10-race program scheduled. To win, the entrant must select a horse in each race that runs in the top three.  Prize money is only awarded if the entrant makes it through all 10 races; otherwise the pool carries again to Dec. 30. There is a $10 entry fee to play.

Upcoming Events

  • Another series of HPWS Super Satellites will begin Jan. 4, 2018.
  • Look for the annual $25,000 Road to Kentucky Handicapping Tournament to begin Jan. 13.

Frost Wins HPWS Satellite; World Famous Sam T wires Grasmick

Kelly Frost of Maple Grove won Saturday’s Horse Player World Series Satellite Contest and will be headed to The Orleans Hotel Casino at the end of March to compete in the $1 million Horse Player World Series. Mike Ferrozzo of Eagan was second in the satellite and also earned a trip to Vegas. The contest format called for ten $2 mythical win and place wagers on races of choice. On a day that was short on big prices, Frost’s winning score was $64.60. Ferrozzo finished with $58.90. In a contest like this the winning score usually exceeds $100 but with few prices to be found the top two made the best of what was offered.

“I was surprised that $58 would win an entry,” Ferrozzo said. “But I will sure take it.”

Bob Lill finished third with $48.00, just 20 cents ahead of Michael Mills. Lill earned an $800 prize. In December, Steve Laurent and Bob Moore also won entries to the annual HPWS through a Canterbury satellite.

The Claim That Keeps On Giving

World Famous Sam T won the Grasmick Stakes on Saturday at Fonner Park for the second consecutive time. He was ridden by Larren Delorme for long-time Canterbury trainer Troy Bethke. Now 8 years old, the speedy sprinter was claimed by Bethke for $4,000 at Canterbury on June 20, 2015 and has since compiled a record of seven wins, three seconds and three third-place finishes from 15 starts and has earned $83,995 in purse money since the claim. The $25,000 Budweiser-Tondi Stakes on March 25 at Fonner is likely on the radar. World Famous Sam T finished second in that race last year.

News and Notes

With fewer than 50 days before horses begin arriving on the Canterbury backside in preparation for the meet that begins May 5, rumors of who is returning and who might try Shakopee for the first time are beginning to flourish.

Sources vary in degrees of reliability. Once the stall application deadline of March 13 comes and goes there should be a fairly clear vision of trainers that will race here this summer. But interest in racing and driving through the stable gate with a load of horses are not the same thing so speculation is on hold for now.

One a scale of one to 10 of reliability, a source rated as an 8 has indicated that the jockey colony should remain similar to last season with Dean Butler, Orlando Mojica and Alex Canchari all returning. The likely addition of journeyman rider Jareth Loveberry is welcomed. With more than a decade of experience and 1,000 plus wins, he should get plenty of calls. Loveberry is currently riding at Oaklawn.

Spring Tune-Up Super Satellites Begin Thursday


The Horse Player World Series Super Satellites concluded Saturday. Winners of those events qualified for the final this Saturday, Feb. 25, the Horse Player World Series Satellite.  Players can buy into this event for $100 and compete for a trip to Las Vegas at the end of March to play in the annual Horse Player World Series at The Orleans Hotel Casino. This is an inexpensive way to get to a very rich event.

The format this Saturday:  entrants make 10 mythical $2 WIN / PLACE wagers on races of choice from the start of the day through approximately 5:30 pm.  The players with the largest bankrolls win the trip and entry. Best guess is that there will be two HPWS entries and cash for third. Prizes are determined by total entries.   Caps on the mythical payouts are set at $60 to win and $40 to place.

Entries are accepted beginning at 10:30 am on Saturday. A list of contest-eligible races will be posted online Thursday.

Spring Tune-Up Contests

A new series of $10 super satellite contests begins Thursday, qualifying players for the April 8 Spring Tune-Up Satellite.  The super satellites are offered each Thursday through Saturday. Players choose between three contest tracks daily and submit selections for the first eight races. Points are awarded based on win/place/show mutuel payouts and winners are determined by the best single-day score over each three-day contest period. The April 8 satellite, with a unique format, will award two entries to the 21st annual Dog Days of Summer Tournament and one entry to the Ultimate NHC Qualifier, both held  in early September.

Kentucky Derby and Oaks  Future Wager Pool 3 offered Feb. 24 – 26

Make a win wager early on potential Kentucky Derby and Oaks contenders. Future Wager opens Friday at 11:00 am CST and closes on Sunday at 5:00 pm CST. Exacta Wagering is available on Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3. Live odds available via  and more information is offered here.

McCraken Wins Sam F. Davis but R2K Points Were Found Elsewhere

McCraken remained undefeated by winning Saturday’s Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs. The favorite’s impressive run from off the pace to win going away at 3 to 2 odds attracted betting in the Wynn Las Vegas Kentucky Derby futures where the son of Ghostzapper is now the 6 to 1 favorite.

The 12-race Tampa card was featured in Canterbury’s Road to Kentucky Contest. Total available contest points surpassed 2,500. McCraken, in the double point Derby prep, was worth 228 points with high points in that race coming from second-place finisher Tapwrit at 9 to 1 for 268 points.

The top R2K score was earned by Dick Hall who amassed a total of 1,700, more than 60 percent of the total available.  Hall had the winner in the opener for 208, hit Pazzaluna in race 5 for 582, and had Tapa Tapa Tapa in race 8 for another 292. Hall also had Tapwrit and scored points in nine of the 12 eligible races.

This Saturday the Road passes through Golden Gate Fields with the double-point Derby prep race the El Camino Real.  Entry to R2K is always free. Entry deadline is first post at Golden Gate.

Final Week for HPWS Super Satellites

The Thursday through Saturday (Feb. 16-18) Horse Player World Series Super Satellite contest will be the final chance to win a $100 entry to the Feb. 25 HPWS Satellite. Players can buy into that satellite for $100 but can also win an entry through the super satellites for just $10. The Feb. 25 contest will send top players to The Orleans Casino for the annual Horse Player World Series at the end of March. The HPWS is expected to offer more than $800,000 in prize money.  There is a history of Minnesotans performing well in the HPWS. Bart Solomon, now a Vegas resident, won the 2011 HPWS and nearly $300,000.

Interested in receiving Updates from the Minnesota Racing Commission?

You can receive email notification of commission meeting agendas, rule making meetings, and horse racing discussion group sessions by registering at  .

Horse Player World Series Satellite Contest Saturday

Saturday presents an opportunity for handicappers to use their skills to win a trip to Las Vegas in March to play in the annual Horse Player World Series at The Orleans Hotel & Casino by playing in the $100 HPWS Satellite Contest in the Canterbury Park Race Book. The HPWS usually pays more the $250,000 to the winner with prize payouts going much deeper during the three-day event.

  • $100 entry fee
  • Each entrant makes 10 mystical $2 Win Place wagers on races of their choice.
  • Contest runs from the start of the day until approximately 5:30 pm
  • For each 25 entries, one player wins the HPWS package which includes entry to the contest, accommodations at The Orleans, and $450 for airfare.

The contest winners are determined by highest scores with players earning points for the mythical wagers based on mutuel payouts of their selections.

Visit the contest page for more information. All North American thoroughbred and quarter horse races offered in the contest time window can be selected for contest play. A complete list of eligible races will be posted online Thursday after all tracks have listed race times.

Horse Player World Series Super Satellite Handicapping Contests

$10 entry fee Super Satellites begin this Thursday for the Dec. 17 Horse Player World Series Satellite.  The winners of the Dec. 17 event will go to Las Vegas in late March to play in the annual Orleans Hotel and Casino Horse Player World Series. If you have never experienced a national handicapping contest these $10 feeders are a great way to win your way in.

Pick Your Day.
Pick Your Track.

Best Score In Three-Day Contest Session Wins.

View contest tracks and event flyer

Official Rules

Oct. 27-29, Nov. 3-5, Nov. 10-12, Nov. 17-19, Nov. 24-26, Dec. 1-3, Dec. 8-10

• $10 Entry Fee for each contest day. Players may enter once per day.

• Select one track from three offered each day. Select one horse in each of the eight contest races. Points awarded based on a mythical $20 across the board wager.

• One player for every 10 entries from each super satellite session will win a $100 entry into the Horse Player World Series Satellite Contest on Saturday, Dec. 17.

• Cash Bonus to Player With The Highest Individual Score from Oct. 27- Dec. 10.

Beginning October 27, $10 Super Satellite contests will be held each week through December 10, 2016 that will qualify players for a $100 entry fee to the Horse Player World Series Satellite Contest on December 17, 2016 which will award entry, $450 for travel expense, and accommodation to the 2017 Boyd Gaming Horse Player World Series in Las Vegas, March 30-April 1, 2017.

Players will be allowed to play in a $10 Super Satellite contest each Thursday, Friday, and/or Saturday with the highest individual score from each three-day contest period determining the winner. Players may choose to play one of three selected tracks (eight races at each track) each Thursday, Friday, and/or Saturday. Each entry is $10, but players may participate only once per day and each day must pay a $10 entry fee if they choose to play.
Each week, one winner for every 10 entries will receive a $100 entry to the Dec. 17 Horse Player World Series Satellite. The Super Satellite contest format requires entrants to select one horse in each of the eight contest races and submit the selections before entry deadline. Points will be awarded for selections based on the official mutuel payoffs based on a mythical $20 across-the-board wager. One entry per person per day. Entrants must be 21 years of age or older.

The highest score from each three day contest session will determine the winner. For example, Player A may have the highest score of 800 on Thursday of the contest session but would not beat Player B who scores 900 points on the Saturday of the same contest session.
Scores will not be posted until the end of the contest session.


Hawthorne Handicapping Challenge Satellite Contest
Saturday, October 29

$50 entry fee

ADDITIONAL $400 PRIZE FOR WINNER! First place now $1,100 in entry fees plus $500 for travel

The Contest:
The Hawthorne Satellite Handicapping Contest on Oct. 29 at Canterbury Park will qualify a player(s) to the Hawthorne Fall NHC Qualifier at Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney, IL on Nov. 25 and 26. Winner(s) receives $700 in entry fees plus a $50 NHC Tour registration and $500 for travel.

Each player will pay a non-refundable $50 entry fee. One player for each 25 entries in the satellite will win $700 in entry fees plus a $50 NHC Tour registration and $500 for travel to the Hawthorne Fall NHC Qualifier.
Contest race options will consist of the entire program at Keeneland and Hawthorne. Players will make mythical wagers on eight races only, choosing from the Keeneland and Hawthorne races.
Players will select one horse in each of eight contest races and will earn points based on a mythical $20 across the board wager, with caps as follows: $600 win; $400 place; $200 show. Selections will be made using screen-activated wagering machines. Each selection must be submitted prior to post time of each contest race. The player with the largest mythical bankroll at the conclusion of the contest will win the prize. The contest will begin with the first race at Keeneland.

Each selection must be placed prior to post time of each contest race. Entrants may place selections before post time of each contest race or may submit all selections in advance and will receive the post time favorite should a scratch occur.

Official Rules

Big Numbers in Week 12 of Road to Kentucky Contest


“You can’t take short prices.  It’s the road to nowhere.” – Brent Sumja, former trainer and NHC Tour winner, talking about contest strategy on a recent DRF Players Podcast.

It was another marathon week for the Road to Kentucky contest, as Gulfstream Park put on a 14-race card which included the Florida Derby showdown between Mohaymen and Nyquist.  There was also the added bonus race of the Spiral Stakes from Turfway Park, all of which I was trying to follow from the ballroom of the Orleans Hotel Casino, host of the 2016 Horse Player World Series.

As strong as the racing was at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, the top finishers in the contest this week will have had to be correct on the winner of the Spiral Stakes, the #5 Oscar Nominated.  He was one of four horses entered by trainer Michael Maker, and ended up winning it as the shortest price of the four which was still 23-1.  That horse alone was worth 1,564 points due to the double bonus, and with a maximum score on the day of 4,260 the Spiral winner is a must if you are looking at cracking the top five for the week.

The weather didn’t cooperate at Gulfstream Park as rain hit the track early, resulting in a sloppy surface.  It didn’t seem to bother Nyquist as he won the Florida Derby pretty easily, disposing of Mohaymen at the top of the stretch and winning over Majesto and Fellowship by open lengths as Mohaymen ran fourth.  So Nyquist will head to Kentucky as the undefeated Juvenile Champion, and a lot of sharp players will continue to knock him as being distance challenged and be looking to play against him with both fists, which is the essence and the beauty of this game.

I had a very good week this week in the contest, scoring 2,352 points.  I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I otherwise might have because I was concentrating on six other tracks in the Horse Player World Series meat grinder.  I blanked in the first six contest races, but started picking up points in the second half of the Gulfstream card, and then connected with Oscar Nominated in the Spiral Stakes.  (Unfortunately, Turfway Park was not part of the Horseplayer World Series track slate).  Rumors from the peanut gallery are that there may be a score out there exceeding 3,000 points this week, which would be quite remarkable.  If you had the Spiral winner and also got about 60% of the available points at Gulfstream, I tip my cap to you!  I’m hopeful for a top-5 finish, this was certainly my best week so far this year.

As for the Horse Player World Series tournament, it was an absolute blast.  Thursday was a very chalky day and I only picked up a couple of second place horses for a score of 284, which was 310th out of 600 players.  The second day I was a little better with two 9-1 winners for a score of 588 on the day and 283rd place overall.  Saturday I got on a little run with a 9-1 winner at Gulfstream early, and another 9-1 winner at Laurel with my 10th play.  At that point I was about 400 points out of the top 60, which was the cutoff for getting paid, with five plays remaining.  After a couple misses, I connected with a 14-1 winner at Oaklawn Park in their last race.  High fives all around!  Check that, there was a long objection into some bumping near the wire and the stewards ultimately disqualified my horse to 5th.  Yikes!  I know that was a pretty damaging decision to a lot of people in the room, as well as others who may have bet the race.  There’s no way to know if that winner would have put me in the money or not since the cut line would have gone up quite a bit, but I figure I would have finished between 50-70th instead of 133rd.  Players finishing between 41-60th received $1,200.  With two plays left I ran 2nd with a 15-1 shot at Hawthorne and swung and missed with a big longshot at Santa Anita.  It was still a great time and I recommend it to anyone thinking about giving it a try.  You can buy your way in for $1,500, or you can try to qualify through various contests including those offered at Canterbury Park.  The winner of the Horse Player World Series this year was Daniel Kaplan with a score of 3,189.60.  He won over 300K for his victory!

This Saturday the Road to Kentucky contest continues at Santa Anita for the featured Santa Anita Derby.  There are also bonus races at Aqueduct – Wood Memorial, and Keeneland – Blue Grass Stakes.  Hope to see you at Canterbury Park!

The Oracle

(Editor’s note: Per the rules, winners of entries to NHC or Horse Player World Series through Canterbury-sponsored contests are allowed to enter the Road to Kentucky while attending those contests.)

Bad Trip – Road to Kentucky Week 11 Recap

demolition derby

“It’s like being an eyewitness to your kid being beaten up on the playground.  He’s got such a fine move.  Just go around.” – Trainer Tom Amoss, lamenting another tough trip for his Kentucky Derby hopeful Mo Tom, who finished fourth as the favorite in the Louisiana Derby.

You know it’s going to be a long day when there are more races at the selected contest track than there are spaces on the contest sheet.  That was the case last Saturday at Fair Grounds, as they ran a 15-race card as part of their closing weekend festivities.  The Road to Kentucky contest used the first 14 races on the day, which seemed like more than enough to decide a weekly winner.

The Fair Grounds rail was golden on Risen Star day last month, but the track last Saturday seemed pretty fair to me.  The featured Louisiana Derby was won by Gun Runner, the same horse who emerged victorious from the Risen Star.  Mo Tom, the beaten favorite, received his second consecutive rough trip, causing his trainer Tom Amoss to go on the verbal offensive after the race.  It appears that Mo Tom will still have enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby, but Amoss’ displeasure with the finish was impossible to miss.

Putting the race in perspective, Gun Runner received a 91 Beyer speed figure for the win, which is a bit light compared to some of the other prep races at other tracks.  Personally, I look at Oaklawn Park and Santa Anita for my Kentucky Derby contenders as it’s been a while since we’ve had a serious contender come out of Louisiana.  I guess Revolutionary and Friesen Fire come to mind.

The play of the day for contest purposes was in the Louisiana Derby, as longshot Tom’s Ready finished second at 30-1 odds.  That play was worth 728 points due to the double bonus.  Listening to the DRF Players Podcast last week, I heard last year’s NHC Tour winner Jonathon Kinchen talk about the wide trip that Tom’s Ready received in the Risen Star, and due to the track bias it really gave him no chance that day.  That turned out to be a pretty good 30-1 tout.  He was never getting to Gun Runner for the win, but Tom’s Ready was a nice horse to find for the vertical exotics in addition to the contest points it provided.

There’s a big chance of a math error with 14 races to look at, but by my calculations the maximum contest points this week were 4,159.  Anything over 2,000 should have a chance at the top five.  I had a good week with 1,382 points, which included Tom’s Ready in the feature and the 8-1 winner of Race 1.  Other than that I think I had two seconds and a bunch of run-outs, but Tom’s Ready got the blood pumping a little bit at the top of the stretch.

In other horse racing news, California Chrome became the richest North American thoroughbred of all time with his win in the Dubai World Cup last Saturday.  He got the perfect outside stalking trip he likes, and he won with authority by about four lengths.  I’ve always been a fan so it was a good result in my book.  It sounds like two more races for California Chrome, the Pacific Classic and the Breeder’s Cup Classic and then it’s off to the shed.

This Saturday the contest track is Gulfstream Park for the featured Florida Derby.  It looks like an early showdown between the top two Derby contenders Mohaymen and Nyquist.  There’s also an additional bonus race at Turfway Park, the Spiral Stakes.  Hope to see you at Canterbury Park!

The Oracle

The Oracle will be playing in the Horse Player World Series Handicapping Contest this week at The Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. He won his way there in a Canterbury satellite contest along with Todd Loose, Lannette Sheldon, and Pete Milinkovich. Best of luck to the Canterbury contingent.