Handle increased 23% on track, 9% out of state, compared to 2021
Horse racing resumes Wednesday at Canterbury Park following a nine-day break that allowed for Twin Cities Summer Jam, a three-day music festival that attracted more than 30,000 fans, to be held in the racetrack infield. Prior to the break 35 of the 65 race dates had been conducted. Entries for Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday drew 251 horses over 31 races for an average field size of 8.1 per race. Average field size for the first 35 days was 7.1.
“The break is beneficial to the horses. It’s a reset,” leading trainer Joel Berndt said. “There is also a people aspect. It refreshes the people too.” Berndt’s 36 wins is two better than Mac Robertson
who has won the training title in 14 of the past 17 seasons. Berndt won his only Canterbury training title in 2020.
Horse players will note the lack of turf racing the first two nights. That was planned by the racing department to allow the much-used turf to be rested and restored. “The turf course was over-seeded the day after racing ceased for the concert break,” Sr. Vice President of Racing Andrew Offerman said. “The two days off are by design to give the course a 12-day break before the second half of the season and allow the new seed more time to fully establish itself.”
Through the 35 race days, 102 races have been contested over the turf course compared to 95 last year. On Saturday, three turf races will be run.
Total handle saw an increase with $55,590,385 wagered, a 10.2 percent increase over last season. Wagering dollars from customers attending the races at the Shakopee, Minn., facility jumped 23 percent to $5,450,745. Track officials are encouraged as spectators return to the races in numbers more similar to pre-pandemic seasons. On-track handle is down just 3.7 percent compared to 2019, the last season prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that for next two race meets demanded capacity restrictions and limited crowd-drawing events such as the Corgi Dog races scheduled for this Sunday.
“We are pleased with business through the first 35 days and look forward to a strong second half of the season,” Offerman said.
Out-of-state handle is up nine percent compared to the same time period in 2021 but up 248 percent compared to 2019. Canterbury’s 2020 pandemic shift to weeknight racing attracted robust national wagering. That wagering popularity continued as Sunday racing was added last year and Saturday this season, replacing Monday and Tuesday programs.
Racing Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday begins at 5 p.m. Sunday racing begins at 1 p.m.
Trials Wednesday for Northlands Futurity and Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby
Three trials will be run Wednesday for the 350-yard $105,100 Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity. The ten finalists for the 400-yard $68,175 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby will be determined in two trial races. Both finals will be held Aug. 10.
Quarter horse trainer Jason Olmstead, who has won the Canterbury training title the past seven seasons, entered 15 of the 27 two-year-olds in the futurity trials and eight of the 14 three-year-olds in the derby trials. He has won the Northlands Futurity, annually Canterbury’s richest quarter horse race, fours times but a Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby win has eluded Olmstead.
Trainer Ed Ross Hardy, who has won the Northlands a record six times, seeks to qualify for the final with two entrants including morning line favorite One Fabulous Miracle in the second trial.