Total purses expected to exceed $15 million; Saturday racing to return with evening post time.
Canterbury Park officials intend to offer 65 days of live horse racing in 2022. A request for a meet that would run Wednesday, May 18 through Saturday, Sept. 17 has been submitted for approval to the Minnesota Racing Commission. Purses are projected at $225,000 per day, similar to the 65-day 2021 season.
In 2021, all-sources wagering reached a record $90.9 million with racing conducted Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons, surpassing the $68.4 million record set in 2020 when 53 days of racing were conducted. The 2022 request would replace Tuesdays with Saturday evening racing programs while continuing Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday programs. Racing would begin at 1:00 p.m. on Sundays and 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Sunday afternoon out-of-state wagering in 2021 exceeded company officials’ expectations with an average $894,736 in off-track handle, nearly triple the pre-pandemic 2019 figure when the Shakopee, Minn. track last conducted Sunday programs. The success in maintaining wagering levels with the shift to Sundays in 2021 leads to optimism amongst track officials about the possibilities regarding the return of Saturday racing, absent since 2019.
“Canterbury Park has been successful over the past two seasons in drawing the interest of the national horseplayer through running a race schedule focused on the less competitive days of the week and by providing a strong value proposition for the wagering dollar,” company president Randy Sampson said. “In 2022, we plan to continue to offer a strong wagering proposition at opportunistic times in the weekly calendar while making it easier for our passionate on-track fan base to return to the races by adding Saturday evening programs,” Sampson said.
Canterbury first experimented with weeknight-only racing in 2020 when pandemic restrictions caused a delay to the start of the race meet with severe limitations on attendance. National handle soared as a result. Mondays were eliminated last season in favor of Sunday afternoons.
The 2022 schedule also includes a nine-day break from July 18 through July 26 to accommodate Twin Cities Summer Jam, an annual multi-day music festival held in the racetrack infield.
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 requires Canterbury Park to submit its request for 2022 racing dates no later than November 15, 2021.