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Bringing Things into Focus

Misconceptions and mistaken assumptions continue to cloud understanding of the agreement between Mystic Lake and Canterbury Park and increased purses.

Some horsemen had trouble understanding during a recent meeting that there are now two purse funds, and that the one funded by Canterbury is overpaid despite the recent infusion of money from the agreement.

“They didn’t understand that the purse money from Mystic is separate from the money generated by Canterbury and must be kept that way,” said HBPA president Tom Metzen.

Some horsemen continue to believe that the agreement includes the right of Mystic Lake to inspect Canterbury’s financial matters at its discretion, another mistaken conception.

“We have to give a full accounting of all the purse money provided by Mystic Lake,” said Metzen. “They have the right to inspect how we are using that money, where every penny goes. They have that right and they should have it.”

That right does not include anything beyond the purse money provided by Mystic Lake.

Metzen calls this agreement “one of a kind” and said he has had calls from other racing jurisdictions not only applauding the deal but wondering how they too might go about getting a similar arrangement.

“Some of the calls I’ve gotten were from people who simply couldn’t believe we came up with an agreement like this one and wonder how they can go about getting one of their own,” he said.

There is another element to the agreement that people misunderstand, one that track president Randy Sampson continues to emphasize

The entire agreement is designed to benefit the Minnesota horse industry directly. All proceeds from the pact are earmarked for purses and benefit horsemen, their owners and breeders.

Canterbury will benefit indirectly at some point, once the additional purse money translates into better horses, increased wagering and larger crowds.

“It’s really a win, win situation and Mystic Lake and Randy Sampson should be applauded for it,” Metzen added. “No other track in the country would have structured a deal like this one that entirely benefits the horse industry.”


Patrons might have wondered about the gathering in the winner’s circle after Thursday night’s fifth race (photo above).

Gracias had just lived up to her 8-5 backing under Wilson Dieguez, adding another win to the bountiful stable of one Ruben Martinez, the Burnsville resident with more horses than a Cecil B. DeMille film.

There they were, Paul Allen, Molly Jones, Angela Hermann, Jeff Maday and Andrew Offerman posing for a photo while giving the thumbs up signal, something seen in such numbers previously only in the Colisseum, say, about 40 A.D.

While one wag suggested that the signal meant the winning jockey should be allowed to keep his life, others reasoned that perhaps the press box group was enacting a parody of some sort.

It was left to track intellectuals to provide a reasonable explanation for the matter. They were charged with a study expected to provide an answer before the start of the 2013 meet.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography