Horses Ready To Race; Entries for June 10 Friday

Training continues at Canterbury Park each day on both the main and training surfaces beginning at 6 a.m. With more than 1,000 horses, mostly thoroughbreds, on the grounds there is continual activity until the 10:30 a.m. close. Anyone with the ability to gallop or proclivity to be a groom or hot walker could begin employment tomorrow. The daily list of workouts is impressive as trainers prepare their stock for opening night June 10. Entries will be taken Friday with nine races, including the Cam Casby quarter horse stake, in the condition book.

This time of year brings horsemen back together often for the first time in many months. The reply to the traditional question of ‘How ya doing?’ varies greatly. But from observation, one could summarize the answers by saying that they are each doing the best they can considering the way they have conducted business for years has in several ways gone off kilter. It is human nature to question rules that are out of the norm but participants in this sport know that they need to be smart and do what is right, responsible and respectful. The end goal is to fire up the economic engine of purse distribution and that won’t happen until the gates pop for the opening race at 4:30 p.m. one week from today.

Trainers still watch from the rail as horses work or gallop but they stand apart, wear masks, coming and going quickly. Riders on horseback often drop the mask while on the track and distant from others but that is a practical matter. One rider commented that it is indeed difficult to breathe while working a horse in the heat of the morning wearing a face covering. The overriding theme is safety and the measures taken to get there adapt to the situations regardless of the occupation.

Jockey agents are not allowed in the barn area. They now conduct business by phone and meet on the road outside the stable gate or on the first turn of the main track. They are in the relationship business, normally working face to face, barn to barn, to get mounts for their riders. That practice for the time being has changed. “It would be easier to make connections in person,” Chad Anderson, agent for Dean Butler and Francisco Arietta, said. Anderson fortunately has two established riders that will have no difficulty getting mounts. New riders can be found in the stable area greeting trainers and offering their services in hopes of generating business. There should be plenty of that business according to Anderson. “Trainers are ready to race not just train. We will have no trouble filling races this first week.”

Bernell Rhone finds the jockey colony to be quite competitive. “You can go at least eight deep and not see a difference,” the veteran trainer said. Rhone is optimistic about the meet as well. The main track is in good shape he says and the fact that the meet is delayed, giving the turf course more of a chance to develop roots, will in the long run be an advantage. “Normally by now we would have been pounding on it. Starting now will help [the turf].We are going to need it to have full fields.”

Canterbury Park Announces Purse Structure and Stakes Schedule For Revised 52-Day Race Meet

Daily purses to average $200,000; 27th Minnesota Festival of Champions Sept. 7

After last week submitting for approval to the Minnesota Racing Commission a revised 52-day race meet schedule beginning June 10, Canterbury Park officials today announced an estimated $10 million purse structure and stakes schedule. Daily purse distribution will average nearly $200,000 per race day and the stakes schedule has been reduced to a total distribution of approximately $2.3 million, with several stakes eliminated and others taking purse cuts. The adjustments are a result of a shortened meet and anticipated loss in purse revenues generated by Canterbury Park’s operations as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The revised overnight purse and stakes schedules are contingent on finalizing an amendment to the SMSC (Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community) Cooperative Marketing Agreement in place since 2012 and an agreement with the horsemen.

The $100,000 Mystic Lake Derby, $75,000 Mystic Lake Mile and $75,000 Lady Canterbury will all be contested on Wednesday, July 15 as a part of a five stake race program. The Mystic Lake Derby, formerly the Shakopee, Minn. track’s richest race, had been run with a purse of $200,000 the past seven seasons while the Mystic Lake Mile and Lady Canterbury traditionally offer $100,000 purses.  Made in Minnesota Day will be Wednesday, August 19 and includes the Minnesota Derby and Minnesota Oaks, each offering unreduced $100,000 purses.  The 27th Minnesota Festival of Champions worth more than $800,000 in total purse money will be held on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7. Purses for Festival Day remain unchanged. None of the 16 previously scheduled thoroughbred stakes races restricted to horses bred in the state were dropped from the schedule. The quarter horse stakes program remains largely unaltered with the July 7 Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity expected to offer the largest purse of the season as a result of nominating and sustaining fee payments.

The originally approved race meet was to run for 65 days from May 15 through Sept. 12 with average purses of $225,000. The revised 2020 season, expected to be approved at a June 8 MRC meeting, will conclude Sept. 9. Racing will be conducted Monday through Thursday. The revised first condition book is now available at  . The revised stakes schedule is at .

On March 16, Canterbury Park officials, based on the advice of state and regulatory bodies, temporarily suspended all card casino, simulcast, and special events operations in response to concerns about COVID-19. Company officials deemed this suspension of activities was in the best interest of the health and safety of its guests and team members. On May 8, the horse stabling area was opened. Simulcast and casino operations remain suspended but company officials are planning for a mid-June re-opening.

Canterbury Park Requests Revised 2020 Racing Season of 52 Days Beginning June 10

Live horse racing schedule would require approval of Minnesota Racing Commission; Operational procedures and protocols to be implemented during racing will be provided to state and local officials for review.

Canterbury Park officials today submitted a revision of their request for live racing dates for 2020 to the Minnesota Racing Commission. The amended request asks for a 52-day season beginning June 10 and concluding Sept. 9, with races conducted Monday through Thursday. The MRC in December approved a 2020 schedule of 65 days beginning May 15 but circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have caused a postponement of those dates. Canterbury Park temporarily suspended operations, including card casino and simulcast wagering which are major sources of horsemen purse revenue, on March 16 and subsequently furloughed 850 employees.

The requested schedule is subject to approval by the MRC and the Minnesota Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association which represents racehorse owners and trainers. Operational procedures and protocols to be implemented during racing will be provided to state and local officials for review.

“This is another important step toward a racing season at Canterbury Park,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “Determining a planned start date provides a timeline for those planning to participate in the 2020 race meet. The importance of this additional step and the cooperation required of all parties involved should not be underestimated. As in every industry during these times, the ability to remain open to change and agile enough to react and make decisions as needed will be crucial to success.”

Canterbury Park officials acknowledge in the request to the MRC that the racing season will likely be conducted with no or limited spectators for all or part of the 52 days. The request asks that the MRC delegate authority to its staff to work directly with racetrack officials and the HBPA to determine best post times to maximize handle and flexibility to alter racing days should those indicated in the request become oversaturated with other racetracks.

Racing Continues; Mr. Jagermeister to Count Fleet; May joins MRC

Horse racing continues at a handful of tracks around the country with Tampa Bay Downs, Gulfstream, Oaklawn, Los Alamitos, Will Rogers, Fonner and Remington Park all conducting races. With limited opportunities, field size has grown and handle at tracks like Fonner are reaching historic levels. Currently there is something offered every day of the week and some evening racing as well with Remington quarter horses and Los Alamitos.   The Daily Racing Form website provides entries as does Equibase. Wagering through a licensed ADW is permissible in Minnesota and a sliver of the handle does benefit purses in Minnesota when racing in Shakopee  returns.

Mr. Jagermeister aimed at $350,000 Grade 3 Count Fleet Handicap

Minnesota bred 5-year-old Mr. Jagermeister, trained by Valorie Lund, is at Oaklawn and will be entered Wednesday for the April 18 Count Fleet Handicap, a 6-furlong sprint. He most recently raced March 7, finishing second to Whitmore in the $150,000 Hot Springs. With a dearth of racing elsewhere, Lund feels the Count Fleet may now attract a “Breeders’ Cup level” field of sprinters.

Governor Walz Appoints Steve May as Racing Commission Director

On March 27, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced the appointment of Steve May as the next executive director of the Minnesota Racing Commission. According to an MRC news release, May will assume his new duties in late April, succeeding Tom DiPasquale, who retired in February after serving as director since 2013.

The news release continues: May is the Director of Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Compliance for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Previously, he was vice president and business manager of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, a national association that represents pari-mutuel racing regulators in most racing states, including Minnesota. May’s educational background includes bachelor and master degrees, including an MBA.

Minnesota Racing Commission chairman Jim Lane congratulated Governor Walz on his appointment of a respected, nationally known racing and wagering industry official to serve as director at a critical time for horse racing in Minnesota and the nation. “Steve May has had broad background in racing and pari-mutuel operations and is well suited by education and experience to lead the fine commission staff assembled here in Minnesota by his predecessor,” said Lane.

Canterbury Park Postpones Opening of Horse Stabling Area

Racetrack Officials Working with Horsemen to Analyze Options for 2020 Season

Canterbury Park officials have announced a decision to postpone the opening of the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack’s horse stabling area until at least Friday, May 1, in reaction to the coronavirus pandemic. This delay in opening also includes access to the main racetrack and other equine training facilities as well as dormitories for racing personnel. Canterbury’s stable area can accommodate up to 1,550 horses and was originally scheduled to open April 24.

“We are doing our best to establish strong communication channels and create some certainty for horsemen in what are very uncertain times,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “We hope May 1 is possible but this situation is changing daily.”
Canterbury officials are in communication with racing officials in other jurisdictions as they establish the appropriate and necessary procedures needed when the horse population begins to arrive. Many racing jurisdictions, including racetracks in Arkansas, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma have remained open for training and have continued to conduct racing with strict conditions including the prohibition of spectators on the premises.

Canterbury Park is scheduled to race 65 days from May 15 through Sept. 12. “While we are hoping to keep our original racing schedule, we acknowledge that is becoming increasingly unlikely,” Offerman said. “We will continue to have dialogue with our horsemen and consult with the Minnesota Racing Commission. Over the next two weeks we must determine what is in the best interests of our horsemen, horses and employees wishing to race and work at Canterbury Park this summer.”

Canterbury Park historically attracts trainers and horses from other tracks throughout the country including Florida, Illinois, Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, and Arizona, several of which have concluded or will soon conclude their racing seasons.

On Monday, company officials, based on the advice of state and regulatory bodies, temporarily suspended all card casino, simulcast, and special events operations in response to concerns about COVID-19. Company officials deemed this voluntary suspension of activities was in the best interest of the health and safety of its guests and team members and would provide an opportunity to review and update operational best practices and strategies based on what is currently known about this public health situation.

Stall applications will now be due April 3. Nomination payments to stakes races will remain on the originally announced dates.

R2K Continues, NHC news and Derby Future Pool 2

Canterbury Park’s Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest, the weekly skills test that takes horse players right up to the First Saturday In May, continues Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs as they conduct the $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes, a Grade 3 race at 1 1/16 miles. First post of the 12 race card, which also contains three additional stakes, is 11:12 a.m.  The Racebook at Canterbury opens at 10 a.m. and entry cards for this free contest can be obtained at the third level Information Center at that time. Don’t be late and get shut out.

R2K focuses on the top 3-year-olds as they compete to earn points that allow them to be entered in the Kentucky Derby.  The Sam F. Davis, the 11th race, is an important stepping stone and has drawn a field of eight led by undefeated colt Independence Hall. Trained by Michale Trombetta, Independence Hall won the Jerome to earn 10 Derby points. Ajaaweed draws the rail in the Sam F. Davis. He was second to Shotski in the Remsen on Dec. 7 at Aqueduct. We watched Shotski run second after a tough battle in the Withers last Saturday. Remember that in the R2K contest, Derby prep races are double points and can be a separator when a price horse wins.

NHC This Weekend

Hundreds of horse players are traveling to Las Vegas to compete in the $2.5 million National Horseplayers Championship hosted by the NTRA this Friday through Sunday. Five players qualified for the annual event through Canterbury contests held in 2019. The current Road to Kentucky Contest awards an entry to the 2021 NHC through its Grand Prize Contest. In September are the Ultimate NHC Qualifier and the 24th annual Dog Days of Summer Handicapping Contest, each awarding two NHC entries. Players can qualify to a Satellite contest by playing in the Spring Tune-Up Super Satellites underway now. These supers allow players to win their way in for just $10.

NHC qualified players through Canterbury include Steve Laurent via R2K, Joe Gauthier and Andrew Carlson via Ultimate NHC, and Bruce Meyer and Brian Herrity via Dog Days. Another prominent local, Mike Ferrozzo, qualified elsewhere. Ferrozzo won the NHC Tour in 2017 and also has made it to the final table at the NHC. Standing will be available during the contest on the NTRA website. 

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 This Friday through Sunday

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 Promo Graphic

The Kentucky Derby Future Wager is an opportunity for fans to bet early on the potential Derby horses they think will earn a spot in the starting gate and go on to win the Kentucky Derby. Future Wager bets typically offer larger payouts than betting the same horse on race day. Future Wager Pool 2 opens on Friday, February 7 and closes on Sunday, February 9. Win and exacta wagering will be offered.

Here are the 23 horses offered plus the Field which is all other 3-year-olds.

KDFW Pool 2: February 7 – 9, 2020

KDFW Pool 3 & Kentucky Oaks/ Derby Double Future Wager: March 6 – 8, 2020

KDFW Pool 4: April  3 – 5, 2020

First Condition Book For 2020 Meet Now Online

The first condition book for the upcoming Canterbury Park live meet is now online along with other important information for trainers and owners including the stall application due by March 27.

The 65-day meet at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack begins May 15 and runs through Sept. 12. Purses are anticipated to exceed $14 million, at approximately $225,000 per day, an amount equal to 2019.

Incentives for racing and loans for shipping are detailed online at Guaranteed purse payments during the entire 2020 season will be tiered by purse level meaning that every starter in all races will be guaranteed the following minimum payments with the intent of providing purse money to cover a greater percentage of the cost to start a horse.

Purse Level                    Guaranteed Purse Earnings

Up to $14,999                                    $250
$15,000 – $29,999                              $375
$30,000 – $49,999                              $600
$50,000 – $99,999                              $1,000
$100,000 – $199,999                         $2,000
$200,000 & Up                                   $4,000

Additionally, every thoroughbred starter in all overnight races during the first Condition Book, May 15 – May 25, will earn an additional $250 participation bonus in every start, guaranteeing all thoroughbreds a minimum of $500 per start in that time period. This participation incentive will be paid for each start a thoroughbred makes in an overnight race throughout the entirety of Condition Book #1.

Race conditions absent last season will return in 2020.

“We are including hybrid conditions on all non-winners of two lifetime or non-winners of three lifetime races as we tested successfully at the end of the 2018 season,” VP of Racing Andrew Offerman said.

“In open non-winners of two lifetime races, non-winners of three Minnesota-breds will be eligible. In open non-winners of three lifetime races, non-winner of four Minnesota-breds will be eligible. We believe this will provide more opportunities for Minnesota-breds in these categories while giving us a better chance to fill some open race conditions which have become more challenging in recent years.”

Robert Junk will return as director of racing and racing secretary, a position he held previously from 2016 to 2018.

Canterbury Park’s stable area will open April 24 with the main track opening for training April 27, provided mother nature cooperates.

Thursday and Friday racing in 2020 will begin at 6:00 p.m. Saturday post time, which has historically been early afternoon, has been moved to 5 p.m. while Sundays and holiday Mondays will begin at 12:45 p.m. On July 3 and 4 racing will begin at 4 p.m. with fireworks displays to follow the racing program each night. A one-week break in the racing season will allow Canterbury to host the second annual Twin Cities Summer Jam July 23-25, a three-day music festival held in the racetrack infield.

Canterbury Park Shakes Up Stakes Schedule For 2020

$3 million in total stakes purses; change in Minnesota Festival of Champions lineup

Canterbury Park racing officials today announced a $3 million thoroughbred and quarter horse racing stakes schedule for the 2020 season that runs 65 days, May 15 through Sept. 12. Several changes and date adjustments have been made with an emphasis placed on the recently announced 5 p.m. Saturday evening post time. A highlight on the schedule remains the Saturday, June 27 Mystic Lake Northern Stars Racing Festival which includes the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack’s richest race, the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, at one mile on the turf course. Also on that program are two $100,000 races, the Lady Canterbury and the Mystic Lake Mile; two $50,000 dirt sprints, the Dark Star Cup and the Hoist Her Flag; as well as a newly added $50,000 turf sprint, the L’Etoile du Nord for fillies and mares.

“We are excited to run all of our featured thoroughbred stakes on Saturday nights in 2020 and believe that will bring more attention to our racing product across North America,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said.

Major changes in both post time and race composition for the 27th edition of the Minnesota Festival of Champions, a day of racing restricted to horses bred in the state offering more than $700,000 in purse money, are in store. For the first time in its history, Festival of Champions will be run on a Saturday evening and is set for Sept. 5. Two fixture races that have been part of the event since 1992 have been moved to earlier in the meet and replaced with two turf races. The Wally’s Choice and Glitter Star Stakes, both dirt routes, have been extracted from Festival and will be run Aug. 15 with $50,000 purses. They will now serve as co-features on Made in Minnesota Day featuring the $100,000 Minnesota Oaks and Minnesota Derby. The Wally’s Choice and Glitter Star will be replaced on Sept. 5 with turf routes, the $100,000 Blair’s Cove Classic Turf Championship and $100,000 Princess Elaine Distaff Classic Turf Championship.

“Turf racing has continued to grow in popularity among both racing participants and handicappers in recent years,” Offerman said. “Moving two turf championship races to Festival Day should provide a more compelling card for the wagering public while also better serving the needs of Minnesota’s owners and breeders who have shown significantly more interest in the turf races over recent seasons.”

Both the Blair’s Cove and Princess Elaine Stakes, traditionally run earlier in the meet, have been conducted since 1995 and in recent years have drawn substantially larger fields than the Wally’s Choice and Glitter Star.

Canterbury Park’s signature quarter horse race, the $150,000 estimated Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity, being run for the 33rd time, will be Sunday, Aug. 9, a month later than usual. Also that day is the Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby. In 2019, Canterbury experimented successfully with a day comprised solely of quarter horse races and will do the same on July 5 of the upcoming season. The race day will offer six stakes including the Canterbury Park Championship Challenge which was named a Grade 3 race by the AQHA Graded Stakes Committee.

The Minnesota Quarter Horse Derby and Quarter Horse Futurity, each $55,000 added races, are again part of the Minnesota Festival of Champions.



Canterbury Park 2020 Racing Dates Approved By MRC

Canterbury Park’s 2020 thoroughbred and quarter horse racing season will run May 15 through Sept. 12, a 65-day meet approved Thursday by the Minnesota Racing Commission.

Thursday and Friday racing in 2020 will begin at 6:00 p.m. Saturday post time, which has historically been early afternoon, has been moved to 5 p.m. while Sundays and holiday Mondays will begin at 12:45 p.m. On July 3 and 4 racing will begin at 4 p.m. with fireworks displays to follow the racing program each night. A one-week break in the racing season will allow Canterbury to host the second annual Twin Cities Summer Jam July 23-25, a three-day music festival held in the racetrack infield.

Canterbury experimented with select Saturday evening programs during parts of the past four seasons and saw a positive impact on attendance, revenue related to food and beverage sales, and handle, leading to the 2020 post time change. Racing officials believe that out-of-state handle will improve dramatically on Saturday evenings due to increased exposure during a time window when fewer tracks are running. That exposure could also create familiarity amongst bettors that will positively impact its other racing days.

“We will run some of our most compelling race cards on Saturday evenings in 2020, as we have the past few years to great success,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “Showcasing our racing every Saturday night both locally and to the international wagering audience will continue to grow handle.”

The Northern Stars Racing Festival, which includes the Mystic Lake Derby, Mystic Lake Mile, and Lady Canterbury Stakes, will be Saturday, June 27. Made in Minnesota Night will be Saturday, Aug. 15 and includes the Minnesota Derby and Minnesota Oaks, each offering $100,000 purses. Additionally, the 27th Minnesota Festival of Champions worth more than $800,000 in total purse money will be held on Saturday, Sept. 5. The entire 2020 stakes schedule will be released in January.

Purses are anticipated to exceed $14 million, at approximately $225,000 per day, an amount equal to 2019. A 2012 cooperative marketing and purse enhancement agreement reached with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, owners and operators of nearby Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, will supplement purses by $7.28 million. The agreement extends through 2022 with more than $83 million going toward purse supplements and joint marketing of the two properties and the region known as RiverSouth-Land of Big Fun.

Canterbury’s promotional calendar will again include several popular events such as Corgis & Cupcakes and Indian Horse Relay. The promotional schedule will be announced when season table and single-day reserved seating sales begin in March.

Robert Junk to return to Canterbury Park as Racing Secretary

Canterbury Park racing officials today announced that Robert Junk will return to the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack as Director of Racing and Racing Secretary, a position he held previously from 2016 through 2018 before leaving for a similar job at Turf Paradise in Phoenix. Because Turf Paradise conducts racing during a timeframe that Canterbury is not running, Junk, with the cooperation of both tracks, will continue in his position at Turf Paradise and rejoin the Canterbury racing office in early May. Canterbury’s 2020 season is expected to run 65 days from May 15 through Sept. 12, after which Junk will return to Phoenix.

“It was a difficult decision to leave Canterbury Park in 2018 but the opportunity in Phoenix, which is home for me, required a year-round commitment at that time,” Junk said. “I’m fortunate that Canterbury and Turf Paradise could make this happen so that I can work for both. I am very familiar with the horsemen and the racing staff at Canterbury. I am thrilled to rejoin them and the excitement that live racing offers in Shakopee.”

Junk, 58, has been racing secretary at racetracks in New Mexico including Sunland Park and Ruidoso Downs where he directed the running of the All American Futurity, the richest race in American Quarter Horse racing, 13 times. Junk worked at various positions in racing offices across the Southwest in the early stages of his career and also was jockey agent for Canterbury Park Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens.

“Rob was well-liked and did a good job during his first tenure at Canterbury Park so having him back in the racing secretary’s office is a great fit,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “We saw many positive developments in our racing program under Rob and expect the same with his return.”

Junk’s hire, as with all key racing officials, must be approved by the Minnesota Racing Commission. The approval along with that of the 2020 live racing dates is expected at the Dec. 19 MRC meeting. The 2020 stakes schedule and condition book will be complete in January with stall applications due in March.