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Canterbury Park Plans To Modify Live Horse Racing Meet For 2020

Horse stabling area to open no earlier than May 1 with live racing anticipated this summer.

Canterbury Park racing officials along with the Minnesota Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, the organization which represents owners, trainers and jockeys working at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack, are continuing to formulate plans for a 2020 live racing season with a modified schedule. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the race meet was to begin May 15 and run 65 dates through Sept. 12.

“We recognize that live racing will not be possible on May 15 but continue to work with the Minnesota HBPA to determine the best possible summer racing schedule, ” Canterbury Park President and CEO Randy Sampson said.

Canterbury Park and the Minnesota HBPA intend to work closely with the Minnesota Racing Commission, the state body charged with regulating Minnesota’s horse racing industry which annually generates an economic impact in excess of $400 million and contributes more than 5,500 jobs to Minnesota’s economy, to ensure that proper protocols will be implemented to protect all workers when the horse stabling area opens. Guidelines provided by the CDC, the Minnesota Department of Health, the American Association of Equine Practitioners and recently updated guidance from the University of Minnesota Extension program designed to assist the Minnesota horse industry are being used in the initial preparations. Canterbury officials announced in March that the stabling area would open no sooner than May 1.

“We have horsemen at racetracks around the country that are currently training and racing and they are important resources during these very challenging times. We are using the best information available from all known resources,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “We consult daily with other racetracks, assembling best practices that have been successful for those currently operating to ensure we are providing the best possible care for all equines as well as those working with them.”

Uncertainty across the country has created a significant shortage of available stabling for America’s racehorses. Canterbury is the summer home for more than 1,500 horses and provides stabling and shelter free of charge to trainers and owners throughout the duration of its season.

“Canterbury Park and the Minnesota HBPA will do as much as we can to assist the horses and their caretakers during this difficult time but we need to do so in a smart and responsible manner for Minnesota and the local community.”

Offerman has extended the date for stall applications to Monday, April 13.  He expects to have a revised Condition Book in May.

On March 16, Canterbury Park officials announced the temporary suspension of activities including casino, horse race simulcast, and special events operations at Canterbury Park in response to the pandemic. The company also announced its intention to pay all regularly scheduled employees for two weeks. On Wednesday, April 1 company officials announced the implementation of temporary unpaid furloughs impacting approximately 850 employees. The limited number of key personnel that remain are subject to salary reductions that will remain in effect until the company returns to normal operations. Sampson called the recent decisions made by the board of directors “the most difficult we have ever faced as a company.”

Subsequent to the company’s March 16 voluntary suspension of activities, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-04 and subsequently Emergency Executive Order 20-18 causing the closure of bars, restaurants and other public accommodations including Canterbury Park until May 1, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.