Saturday evening racing returns; promotional calendar includes, dogs, camels and fireworks
When the live racing season begins Wednesday, May 18, Canterbury Park officials are hoping to return to the successes experienced prior to the pandemic when large crowds, and numerus special events centered around horse racing, were the norm. The most evident change is the addition of Saturday racing, absent since 2019, to the four-day per week schedule. The 65-day season will run through Sept. 17 with racing Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 5 p.m. central and Sundays at 1 p.m.
During the pandemic-shortened 2020 season when crowd capacity was limited, officials at the Shakopee, Minn. track opted to race on a Monday through Thursday basis to appeal to the sizeable online wagering market. The gamble paid off and handle, the amount of money wagered, increased by 110 percent per day. In 2021, with no capacity restrictions and increased demand from the public for outdoor events, Sunday racing along with promotional events like corgi dog racing returned and so did the crowds. Average Daily Handle, the total of the amount bet both on- and off-track, increased last season by 8.4 percent over 2020 figures.
“Adding Saturday racing, for more than two decades a staple on our schedule, was the next logical step as we return to a more normal business model,” Assistant General Manager John Groen said. “We also are reintroducing more events that coincide with racing that had been extremely popular prior to the pandemic.” Those events include a Father’s Day Weekend BBQ Festival, Canterbury Uncorked wine event and a seltzer festival.
General admission for racing is $10 for adults, $5 for youth six to 17 years of age, and free those under six. Some events require additional admission fees. Wednesday racing will feature $5 admission and drink specials. Thursdays offers live music and Sunday is Pepsi Family Day with pony rides and face painting. Reserved seating options are also available. All tickets can be purchased in advance at a discount at tickets.canterburypark.com.
Featured race days include the June 22 Mystic Lake Northern Stars Turf Festival that includes four $100,000 turf stakes and the centerpiece $150,000 Mystic Lake Derby. Minnesota Festival of Champions, an evening of racing restricted to horses bred in the state, will offer more than $700,000 in purse money and will be contested on Saturday, September 10.
Racing officials have added a wager beginning with the first race each day, the Post Time Pick 4, which will have the lowest takeout rate in the industry at 10 percent, requiring participants to select in order the winners of four consecutive races, placing the bet before the first race begins. This complements Canterbury’s Pick 5 wager which, at 10 percent, also has the lowest takeout in the country.
More information is available at canterburypark.com.
Promotion Schedule and Signature Stakes Races
May 18 – Opening Night
June 5 – English Bulldog Races
June 11 – Seltzer Fest*
June 18 – 19 – Father’s Day Weekend BBQ Festival
June 22 – Mystic Lake Northern Stars Turf Festival featuring $150,000 Mystic Lake Derby
June 25 – Canterbury Uncorked*
June 26 – Basset Hound Races
July 3 – Fireworks Spectacular with racing beginning at 4 p.m.
July 17 – Extreme Race Day with camels, ostriches and zebras
July 31 – Corgi Races
August 13 – Minnesota Derby and Oaks
August 14 – Wiener Dog Races
August 25, 27 and 28 – Indian Horse Relay
September 10 – Festival of Champions with more than $700,000 in stakes purses
September 17 – Final Day of 2002 Racing Season
*separate admission fee