$3 million in total stakes purses; change in Minnesota Festival of Champions lineup
Canterbury Park racing officials today announced a $3 million thoroughbred and quarter horse racing stakes schedule for the 2020 season that runs 65 days, May 15 through Sept. 12. Several changes and date adjustments have been made with an emphasis placed on the recently announced 5 p.m. Saturday evening post time. A highlight on the schedule remains the Saturday, June 27 Mystic Lake Northern Stars Racing Festival which includes the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack’s richest race, the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, at one mile on the turf course. Also on that program are two $100,000 races, the Lady Canterbury and the Mystic Lake Mile; two $50,000 dirt sprints, the Dark Star Cup and the Hoist Her Flag; as well as a newly added $50,000 turf sprint, the L’Etoile du Nord for fillies and mares.
“We are excited to run all of our featured thoroughbred stakes on Saturday nights in 2020 and believe that will bring more attention to our racing product across North America,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said.
Major changes in both post time and race composition for the 27th edition of the Minnesota Festival of Champions, a day of racing restricted to horses bred in the state offering more than $700,000 in purse money, are in store. For the first time in its history, Festival of Champions will be run on a Saturday evening and is set for Sept. 5. Two fixture races that have been part of the event since 1992 have been moved to earlier in the meet and replaced with two turf races. The Wally’s Choice and Glitter Star Stakes, both dirt routes, have been extracted from Festival and will be run Aug. 15 with $50,000 purses. They will now serve as co-features on Made in Minnesota Day featuring the $100,000 Minnesota Oaks and Minnesota Derby. The Wally’s Choice and Glitter Star will be replaced on Sept. 5 with turf routes, the $100,000 Blair’s Cove Classic Turf Championship and $100,000 Princess Elaine Distaff Classic Turf Championship.
“Turf racing has continued to grow in popularity among both racing participants and handicappers in recent years,” Offerman said. “Moving two turf championship races to Festival Day should provide a more compelling card for the wagering public while also better serving the needs of Minnesota’s owners and breeders who have shown significantly more interest in the turf races over recent seasons.”
Both the Blair’s Cove and Princess Elaine Stakes, traditionally run earlier in the meet, have been conducted since 1995 and in recent years have drawn substantially larger fields than the Wally’s Choice and Glitter Star.
Canterbury Park’s signature quarter horse race, the $150,000 estimated Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity, being run for the 33rd time, will be Sunday, Aug. 9, a month later than usual. Also that day is the Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby. In 2019, Canterbury experimented successfully with a day comprised solely of quarter horse races and will do the same on July 5 of the upcoming season. The race day will offer six stakes including the Canterbury Park Championship Challenge which was named a Grade 3 race by the AQHA Graded Stakes Committee.
The Minnesota Quarter Horse Derby and Quarter Horse Futurity, each $55,000 added races, are again part of the Minnesota Festival of Champions.