Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday programs feature 326 horses in 34 races
Canterbury Park’s 65-day racing season comes to an end with 5 p.m. programs Tuesday and Wednesday and a 4 p.m., 13-race program Thursday. General admission will be free the final three days as part of fan appreciation week to cap a season that began with uncertainty but concludes leaving racetrack officials both pleased and optimistic.
“People were here enjoying the Minnesota summer ritual that is live horse racing at Canterbury
Park and it was wonderful to welcome patrons back to the track,” said Vice President of
Marketing John Groen. Business levels increased sharply compared to the 2020 pandemic-shortened and restricted race meet, with more dollars wagered, more spectators in the stands, and the return of the energy and buzz associated with Canterbury Park’s live racing experience.
Had he been asked in January or February, Groen might not have been as enthusiastic. Planning during a pandemic for promotional events months in advance was a difficult task. Add to that the labor shortage faced by the entertainment and hospitality industry and it became daunting.
In 2020, with limited spectators allowed, Canterbury deviated from the 25-year tradition of Thursday through Sunday horse racing and ran races Monday through Thursday to have increased exposure with the national gambling audience. That plan worked and wagering on Canterbury races increased astronomically.
For the 2021 season, track officials adopted a hybrid racing schedule featuring Tuesday through Thursday early evening post times, along with Sunday afternoons. “Our goal for 2021 was to see if we could achieve the best of both worlds by keeping the national wagering audience on weeknights while welcoming our enthusiastic fan base back to the track on Sundays,” said Groen. Canterbury back loaded the popular Sunday promotional events that accompany horse racing, such as corgi races and Extreme Day, into the later summer months when there was a much better chance that restrictions would be eased.
Spectators, as planned, did come by the thousands on Sundays as Canterbury averaged more than 8,500 guests for family day racing after the fourth of July. Canterbury officials expected Sunday afternoon handle would revert to 2019 levels, averaging $300,000, when faced with the competition of major tracks running at the same time.
“We were wrong about the Sunday handle projections, pleasantly so,” Groen said. Sundays averaged $894,736 in handle from wagers made outside of Minnesota; nearly triple the 2019 figure, while weeknights remained consistent with 2020 figures, averaging more than $1 million in handle per race card.
“We presented a great racing product in 2020 to new participants nationally, and that exposure carried over to all of our race days this year,” said Groen. “It really was a positive summer for Canterbury, and we hope our fans will take advantage of free admission the week to enjoy our final three days of racing.”
There are nine races Tuesday, 12 Wednesday and Thursday’s program includes two $50,000 stakes, the Shakopee Juvenile and the Tom Metzen Sprint.
First 36 days of season show handle increases and stability
Horse racing resumes Wednesday at Canterbury Park following a nine-day break while the Shakopee, Minn. entertainment facility hosted Twin Cities Summer Jam, a three-day music festival held in the racetrack infield. The pause allowed horse trainers and their equine counterparts to prepare for the final 29 days of the 65-day season. Canterbury officials are pleased and encouraged by several metrics, including wagering numbers, from the first 36 days.
Average daily handle, the amount of money wagered, increased 12.8 percent compared to 2020 and 153.2 percent compared to the first 36 days of 2019. In 2020, due to the pandemic, Canterbury ran a shortened, Monday through Thursday season and was allowed no more than 750 spectators per day. This was a deviation from the 25-year tradition of racing Thursday through Sunday with an average of 6,500 spectators. The shift in days of the week attracted an increased national wagering audience during a timeframe with much less competition resulting in a dramatic increase in daily average out-of-state handle, a trend that continues in 2021 as Canterbury runs a hybrid schedule of Sundays at 1:00 p.m. and Tuesdays through Thursdays at 5:00 p.m. Out-of-state average handle increased by 8.3 percent over last year, and 221.8 percent over 2019, to $1.3 million per day. On-track handle, with no spectator capacity limits, is nearly double the 2020 average and down just 19.7 percent compared to the pre-pandemic 2019 season, an average racing officials are content with as spectators begin to adapt and return to post-pandemic events.
“We are very pleased with the mid-season figures,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “We have thoroughly enjoyed the return of the energy and excitement of live racing fans although we knew there would be an adjustment period following such a dramatic schedule shift. Our participants have remarked about the renewed energy and excitement in the facility so it is clear that everyone is pleased to be getting back to normal.
“Additionally, our product has continued to be popular across the country which is very rewarding to see in the year following the pandemic. In the second half of the race meet we continue to look for ways to entertain the local live racing fan while cultivating a strong racing product for the national audience,” Offerman said.
The stability of purses paid to horse owners has been a major factor in the success of the season thus far. Purses have averaged $235,237 per day, an increase of 29.6 percent over last year when business-level decreases necessitated lower purses. The 2021 average is 4.8 percent more than 2019. The purse structure has created competiveness and an average of 7.15 starters per race, a figure consistent with the past two seasons.
“There is no doubt that our careful purse management in 2020 proved beneficial in 2021 as we have been able to return purses to their pre-pandemic levels,” Offerman said. “Our participants have responded by continuing to fill competitive race cards, a trend I anticipate will continue throughout the season.”
Offerman views the level of claiming activity as an indicator of a healthy race meet as well. There is a demand for horses and increased participation by owners with a total of 143 horses having been claimed compared to 72 and 74 in the past two seasons during the same time. A claiming race is a race in which horses may be purchased by a licensed owner for the claiming price listed for that race.
Past meet leaders congregate near the top of the thoroughbred trainer and owner standings. Robertino Diodoro and Mac Robertson vie for top trainer honors. Diodoro won three races on July 18 and has a 32 to 31 lead over Robertson. Empire Racing Stables, LLC has 15 wins, two more than 2020 leading owner Lothenbach Stables, Inc. Novogratz Racing Stables also has 13 wins.
Lindey Wade, new to Canterbury this season, is the leading jockey through 36 days, winning with 37 of 165 mounts. Alonso Quinonez has 32 wins and 2020 leading rider Ry Eikleberry has 30.
Canterbury continues to offer an industry-low 10 percent takeout rate on the $.50 Pick 5 wager and the $1 Pick 6 wager. Both the Pick 5 and Pick 6, offered daily, are traditional wagers distributing the full pool less takeout to bettors selecting the first-place horse in each leg of the wager.
by The Oracle Follow The Oracle on Twitter at @Oracle 65 He will provide selections daily.
Opening day of the 2021 Canterbury Park live racing meet is Tuesday, May 18! That means it’s time to look back at the 2020 Canterbury Park live meet from a statistical standpoint and use that data to help us better predict the outcomes of the 2021 Canterbury Park races.
Canterbury Park is continuing its 50-cent 10% takeout Pick 5 wager this year, and is also adding a $1 Pick 6 with a 10% takeout. Both of these wagers are fan-friendly, offering the lowest takeout in the country! It will pay to get involved in these wagers at Canterbury Park!
Here’s a look at some final statistics for the thoroughbred races run at Canterbury Park in 2020, as we prepare to unlock the 2021 Canterbury Park handicapping puzzle. Good luck in 2021!
The public correctly selected the winner 39% of the time in all thoroughbred races run at Canterbury Park last year. That is 2-percentage points above the national average for winning favorites at all racetracks in North America in 2020, and matches how favorites fared at Canterbury Park in 2019. The most formful races last year were the races for maiden claimers, which produced winning favorites 49% of the time (37/76). Despite the high percentage of winning favorites in this category, betting them all still produced a 2% net loss. This has been a trend that has held up well the past several years. A lot of favorites seem to get their picture taken in the maiden claiming ranks at Canterbury Park. Conversely, the maiden special weight races proved to be elusive to the betting public last year, as only 30% of the favorites in that category prevailed. Let’s see if that trend carries forward to 2021.
Last year, heavy favorites that were bet down to 7/5 odds or lower won 115 races out of 253 attempts. That’s a 45%-win rate, but it also shows that these “locks” lost more often than they won. In fact, betting these heavy favorites to place or show would have been easier on the bankroll than betting them to win. The ROI on win bets for these runners was $0.85 per dollar, whereas the place ROI was $0.99 and show was $0.96.
On the other end of the spectrum, there were 16 winners at 20-1 odds or higher last year, but over 700 runners went to post at those high odds. Betting them all would have resulted in a 28% loss to the bankroll, despite catching a 54-1 winner in there. And longshot betting to place and show was even worse, with place showing a 47% loss and show returning a loss of 44%. Ouch! Horseplayers who prefer place and show betting would be better served to concentrate on the lower priced horses to find their plays.
Historically, Canterbury Park has not been a “longshot” paradise, and last year 80% of the thoroughbred races were won by horses at odds below 6-1.
The “sweet spot” for win betting last year was the 6-1/7-1 odds range. That range netted a loss of only 5% for the 320 runners if you played them all. Of the horses in that odds-range, 10% emerged victorious.
Ry Eikleberry won the riding title at Canterbury Park last year as he led all jockeys with 77 wins. Francisco Arrieta finished second with 71 wins and Alonso Quinonez was third with 45 wins.
Indications are that Arrieta will not be riding at Canterbury Park this summer, so Ry appears to be heavily favored to repeat as leading rider in 2021. Since Eikleberry is such a well-known rider at Canterbury, his mounts always attract a lot of attention from the public. Eikleberry won with 24% of his mounts last year, and returned 81 cents on the dollar overall. He was solid with favorites (45% winners) and he showed a flat bet profit in dirt routes (ROI = $1.14) and turf sprints (ROI = $1.03). (Interestingly enough, in 2019 Eikleberry showed a flat bet profit in dirt sprints and turf routes so go figure…). Eikleberry was only 1/57 with horses going off at 8-1 odds and above, and in fact his highest paying winner last year paid only $18.00.
Alonso Quinonez had a solid year at Canterbury Park last year, finishing third in the overall standings with 45 wins. “Q” was very horseplayer friendly as his overall ROI was $0.95 and he showed a flat bet profit in several categories. He won with 50% of his favorites (19/38 ROI $1.06) and also showed a flat bet profit with longshots. In fact, he brought home 3 winners last year that paid over $40.00, including a 46-1 winner on July 2 named Lilfeatheredindian who was trained by Nevada Litfin. Quinonez was 6/113 with horses at 8-1 and higher, resulting in an ROI of $1.31 with the big longshots. He also showed a flat bet profit in dirt routes (ROI = $1.50) and turf sprints (ROI = $1.58). As Quinonez continues to have success, these numbers will likely drop as the public catches on. However, it is worth pointing out what a strong meet he had at Canterbury Park for the bettors in 2020.
On the other end of the spectrum, the “flaming wallet” award went to Jareth Loveberry, who’s mounts at Canterbury Park returned only 44 cents on the dollar in 2020. Loveberry is currently riding successfully at Arlington Park in 2021.
For the past several years, McLean Robertson and Robertino Diodoro have battled it out for leading trainer honors at Canterbury Park. However, last year we had a new leading trainer Joel Berndt, who ended up winning the 2020 Canterbury training title pretty comfortably over Mac Robertson by a total of 45 wins to 36 wins.
Joel Berndt finished the 2020 Canterbury Park meet with 45 winners from 201 starts with an
ROI of $0.86. Berndt runners were very reliable as the favorite (46% winners) and his best categories were claiming races (ROI = $1.06) and maiden special weight races (ROI = $1.40). The Berndt horses not taking any action on the tote board struggled, winning only once at over 8-1 from 41 tries. Berndt was pretty consistent with both dirt and turf runners, with turf routers being his best category (32% winners and ROI = $1.01). Joel also had a very good meet with his two-year-old runners last year, winning 5 races from 15 starters (ROI = $1.25). Even though the secret is out on Joel Berndt at Canterbury Park, I expect another strong season from this barn in 2021.
Mac Robertson has been a dominant presence on the trainer standings at Canterbury Park for the past twenty years. He has some pretty consistent results over time, typically doing very well in the higher-level Allowance and Stakes races, especially for Minnesota breds. He often excels with his two-year-old runners. He is equally sharp on both the dirt and the turf. Last year turned out to an atypical year for the Robertson barn as none of the prior trends really held up and his win percentage dipped below 20%. I would expect an improved performance from this barn in 2021, and a return to the top of the trainer standings would be no surprise.
Justin Evans is bringing horses to Canterbury Park this summer so that deserves a mention here. Evans was last at Canterbury Park in 2008 when he challenged for the trainer title with Jamie Ness and Mac Robertson. Over the past decade, he has continued to win a high percentage of races at various tracks in Arizona and New Mexico. A look at Evans past year shows him with a win percentage of 30% from 350 starters. His bread and butter is dirt sprint racing where he is showing a flat bet profit of $1.07 from 210 starters (33% winners). In short, if Evans comes into Canterbury in a serious way, he’s going to have a strong influence and is likely to occupy a top 5 spot in the trainer standings. Also of note, leading rider Ry Eikleberry has ridden for Evans regularly in his off-seasons from Canterbury Park down in Arizona and New Mexico.
Honorable mentions go to Tony Rengstorf and Francisco Bravo who both had 23 wins at Canterbury Park in 2020 and posted positive ROIs of $1.28 and $1.31, respectively. This is the second consecutive year that Rengstorf has posted a positive ROI at Canterbury Park, an outstanding feat. Keep your eye on these two trainers as they continue to reward their backers with big mutuel payouts.
The “flaming wallet” award went to Tim Padilla, with an ROI last year of 0.42. While he was very good with favorites (8/17 and ROI $1.05), he was 0/40 at 8-1 and higher last year at Canterbury Park.
Best of luck playing the 2021 live racing meet at Canterbury Park!
Wagers offered daily during 65-day meet that begins May 18
Canterbury Park officials announced today that the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack’s industry-low 10 percent takeout rate on the $.50 Pick 5 wager will return for the 2021 racing season and that a $1 Pick 6 wager, also with an industry-low 10 percent takeout, will be offered daily. Both the Pick 5 and Pick 6 will be traditional wagers distributing the full pool less takeout to bettors selecting the first-place horse in each leg of the wager.
In conjunction with a modified 2020 racing calendar as a result of COVID-19, Canterbury instituted the low takeout rate on a traditional Pick 5 wager at the beginning of last season, abandoning the jackpot format offered since 2017. The Pick 5 averaged $79,500 in wagers per pool in 2020 and totaled more than $4.1 million throughout the season. Both were astronomical increases over 2019 when the wager attracted an average Jackpot Pick 5 Pool of $8,366 and season-total wagering of slightly more than $550,000.
“There is no doubt that the low takeout in the Pick 5 was a factor in attracting new players to our racing product,” Canterbury’s track analyst Brian Arrigoni said. “Those new players liked what they saw with our weeknight mix of turf and dirt races and solid field size and not only bet into that low-takeout pool but also found appealing wagering opportunities across other pools as well.”
The weekday-focused calendar in 2020 and the modified wagering menu resulted in record all-sources wagering of more than $68 million during the shortened 53-day season, the fewest days run at Canterbury Park since 1998. All-sources wagering increased by more than 68% as compared to 2019 when a 66-day meet was conducted. Controlling for the reduction in race days as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, daily all-sources handle increased by nearly 110% and was spurred by an increase in the average Pick 5 Pool of nearly 850%.
“I believe the Pick 6 with this low takeout will appeal both to customers that favor a more traditional Pick 6 wager and those that are looking for reduced takeout wagers. Moving away from jackpot bets is good for the horseplayer and will bring even more bettors into our pools. The $1 minimum is certain to generate strong payoffs as well as exciting carryover opportunities,” Arrigoni said.
Both of these pari-mutuel wagers require the participant to select in order the winners of consecutive races, five in the Pick 5 and six in the Pick 6, placing the bet before the first race in the series begins. In the event no tickets correctly identify all winners, 75 percent of the pool is carried over to the following racing program and 25 percent is paid as a consolation.
The 2021 season will be conducted on a Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday schedule with additional holiday racing Memorial Day, Labor Day and July 3. Post time on Sundays is 1:00 PM (CDT). Tuesday through Thursday racing begins at 5:00 PM.
Open Race Overnight Starters in May to Receive Additional $1,000 Incentive Payment
Canterbury Park racing officials, with support from the Minnesota HBPA, have announced new 2021 participation incentive programs designed to reward owners that send horses ready to race at the start of the meet. In addition, trainers and owners wishing to participate at the Shakopee, Minnesota track may apply for a loan to be used for the transport of horses arriving prior to the start of the 65-day season. In total, more than $500,000 will be made available to assist and support the arrival of a race-ready horse population in advance of the 2021 season which runs May 18 through Sept. 16.
Owners of thoroughbred starters in open-company overnight races during the first eight days of racing from May 18 through May 31 will earn an additional $1,000 participation bonus per start. This bonus applies to each start a horse makes during that time and will be paid directly into the owner’s account through the bookkeeper’s office.
“We want horses to arrive at Canterbury Park ready to enter and compete,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “This participation bonus puts extra money in the hands of racehorse owners in addition to purse money they may earn and is designed to directly offset transportation expenses incurred to get to Minnesota.”
In 2020, Canterbury Park saw total handle increase by 68% despite running 21% fewer races. The $68.4 million in handle was a record for the track. Per starter handle was up 115% to $18,902. Field size averaged 7.24 thoroughbreds per race.
“It was important last year to start strong and make an impression on the national racing audience. Offering large and competitive fields accomplished that and we are prepared to build on this growth in wagering interest in 2021,” Offerman said. “The bonus not only assists owners in covering expenses at the start of the season, it grows field size and thus handle which in turn drive purses.”
Canterbury Park recently announced across the board increases in its overnight purse structure which meet or in some cases exceed 2019 overnight purses. In total, purses are anticipated to average approximately $230,000 per race day or a nearly 20% per day increase in 2021 as compared to 2020.
The shipping loan program is offered to qualified applicants who arrive prior to the start of the 2021 season. Shipping loan applications will be due with stall applications by April 2 and will be reviewed by the stall allocation committee which includes Director of Racing and Racing Secretary Robert Junk. The committee will authorize up to $25,000 per owner to cover the cost of horse transportation to Canterbury Park. The loan will be repaid through an agreement between the successful applicant and the track. All pertinent documents are available at https://www.canterburypark.com/horsemen/ .
Mystic Lake Derby’s $150k purse is richest of 27 stakes; 2021 condition book now available featuring increased overnight purses
Canterbury Park racing officials today announced that 27 stakes races with purses totaling $2,060,000 will be run during the 65-day 2021 race meet that begins May 18. The richest of the stakes is the $150,000 Mystic Lake Derby at one mile on the turf on June 23, part of the six-stake Northern Stars Turf Festival. Again in 2021, each of the six stakes comprising the Sept. 8 Minnesota Festival of Champions will offer $100,000 purses. All but two of the meet’s stakes will be run on Wednesday evenings when first post is 5:00 p.m.
The Mystic Lake Northern Stars Turf Festival includes four $100,000 turf races in addition to the Mystic Lake Derby. Also on that date are the Mystic Lake Mile, the Lady Canterbury Stakes, the Dark Star Turf Sprint, and the Curtis Sampson Oaks named in honor of the late Canterbury Park founder and Chairman who died in 2020. The race previously was run as the Northbound Pride Oaks. The $60,000 MTA Stallion Auction Stakes is also June 23.
Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman has scheduled preview days to offer racing opportunities leading up to the major stakes dates. The Northern Stars Turf Festival is previewed on May 26 with three $50,000 turf stakes, the Honor the Hero Stakes, HBPA Distaff and Brooks Fields Stakes.
“Clustering stakes races to offer high quality racing on selected Wednesdays throughout the meet will continue to strengthen Canterbury’s national presence,” Offerman said.
Offerman used a similar strategy in 2020 when the track switched from traditional weekend racing that attracted large in-person crowds no longer possible during the COVID-19 pandemic to a weeknight schedule. Handle soared to a record $68 million for the 53-day meet, easily eclipsing the previous record of $48 million over 69 days in 2018.
Hall of Fame Day is July 14 offering Minnesota-breds $50,000 purses in four stakes. The Ralph Strangis Stakes and Minnesota Turf Distaff are turf routes. Three-year-olds will sprint in the Victor S. Myers and Frances Genter before stretching out in distance on Aug. 18 in the Minnesota Derby and Minnesota Oaks, each offering $100,000 and anchoring Made in Minnesota Day which includes the $50,000 Wally’s Choice Stakes and Glitter Star Stakes.
Overnight purse levels, which saw slight decreases in 2020 due to impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, will return to or exceed the levels of 2019 depending on race condition.
The race meet concludes Sept. 16. Condition books and stall applications are available now HERE. Track officials anticipate announcing a new shipping and participation incentive program in the coming weeks with the objective of attracting additional participants to Canterbury Park.
65-day Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meet to run May 18 through Sept 16
Canterbury Park’s request for a 65-day 2021 thoroughbred and quarter horse racing season, May 18 through Sept. 16, was unanimously approved Thursday by the Minnesota Racing Commission. The Shakopee, Minn. track will conduct a Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday schedule with racing also on Memorial Day and Labor Day as well as Saturday, July 3. Purses are anticipated to be approximately $14 million, at approximately $220,000 per day, a projected increase of more than 35% in total and 12% per day as compared to 2020. 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 $80 million going toward purse supplements and joint marketing of the two properties.
Post time on Sundays and holidays will be 1:00 p.m. while weekday racing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday racing will begin at 5:00 p.m. On July 3 racing will begin at 4:00 p.m. The 2021 thoroughbred and quarter horse stakes schedules are expected to be announced in January with stall applications and the first condition book available shortly thereafter.
Canterbury Park’s 24/7 card casino and simulcast racebook remain temporarily closed due to Executive Order 20-103 issued by Gov. Tim Walz to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Canterbury Park racing officials have submitted a request to the Minnesota Racing Commission for 65 racing dates in 2021 beginning May 18 and running through Sept. 16. With the request came the caveat that future impacts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic may necessitate an amendment to the request. Horsemen purses are projected to return to pre-COVID-19 levels of approximately $220,000 per day, a 13 percent increase over the $195,000 per day in 2020. The meet would feature both thoroughbred and quarter horse racing.
Canterbury Park’s 2020 race meet was delayed and shortened but once commencing on June 10 the meet ran uninterrupted for 53 days through Sept. 17 with limited spectators.
“We intend to run a more typical 65-day meet in 2021,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “We have learned a lot about safely conducting a racing season during very trying circumstances. We will build on that knowledge next season knowing that there may be subsequent changes and alterations to the schedule. However, it is important for the racing industry to understand our intention to run a 65-day meet from mid-May through mid-September.”
With a capacity limit of 750 spectators in the recently concluded meet, track officials moved off the traditional Thursday through Sunday schedule and conducted racing Monday through Thursday evenings. The result was a 116 percent increase in out-of-state wagering handle. The request for 2021 is for a Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday schedule with racing on Memorial Day and Labor Day as well as Saturday, July 3.
Canterbury Park’s live racing success has been predicated on live crowds averaging more than 6,500 per day generating food, beverage, handle and admission revenues crucial to supporting a race meet that employs more than 1,000 workers, the majority of which was lost in 2020.
“We fully understand the severity and serious nature of the ongoing pandemic; however we remain optimistic and are planning a 2021 season for what might be possible,” Vice President of Marketing John Groen said. “Should venues like Canterbury Park be allowed to safely increase attendance capacity, Sunday afternoon would provide an opportunity to reintroduce popular family promotions tied to live horse racing that we are known for.”
Sunday afternoon racing in 2021 would replace Mondays which produced the weakest results during Canterbury Park’s 2020 meet. In past years, promotions such as corgi dog races and fireworks displays have attracted crowds three times larger than the daily average.
The 2021 schedule also includes a nine-day break to accommodate Twin Cities Summer Jam, a three-day music festival held in the racetrack infield July 22 through 24. The event was first held in 2019 but postponed in 2020 as a result of the pandemic.
The Minnesota Racing Commission, a nine-member panel appointed by the state’s governor tasked with overseeing the integrity and safety of horse racing at Minnesota’s two pari-mutuel racetracks, is expected to consider Canterbury’s race date request at its December meeting. Minnesota Administrative Rule 7872.0100 required Canterbury Park to submit for 2021 racing dates no later than November 15, 2020.
Canterbury Park’s 24/7 card casino and simulcast racebook remain open daily.
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.”
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.
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.