Canterbury Park officials today announced that Chris Merz has been hired for the position of Senior Director of Horse Racing Operations. Merz, who will begin his duties in early February, has been director of racing and racing secretary at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California since 2020.
“We are very excited to have Chris join our team and bring his racing office experience at the highest levels of racing to Canterbury Park,” CEO Randy Sampson said. “We are confident he will be a great fit for this position and will continue the upward trajectory we have had with our live racing product. Bringing in Chris to lead our racing operations is another indication of the long-term commitment of Canterbury Park to the horse racing industry in Minnesota.”
Merz will oversee all aspects of live racing at the Shakopee, Minnesota racetrack, supervising Canterbury’s racing secretary, manager of racing operations, turf and grounds superintendent, and stable area manager. He will also serve as liaison with the Minnesota Racing Commission, racing stewards, office staff, and veterinary staff and act as point person for the company with the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association. Merz is also responsible for compliance with HISA regulations.
“I would like to thank Randy Sampson and his team for extending their trust in me for this opportunity,” Merz said. “Minnesota has a strong racing industry and Canterbury Park has committed to expanding on that for generations to come. I am excited and grateful to be part of that vision and look forward to what we will accomplish together.”
Merz, 32, also served as racing secretary at Maryland Jockey Club, assistant racing secretary at Los Alamitos Racecourse in Los Alamitos, California and stakes coordinator at both Del Mar Thoroughbred Club and Golden Gate Fields.
“When I graduated from the University of Arizona Racetrack Industry Program in 2012, I had formidable goals,” Merz said. “I never would have been able to achieve them without the mentorship and opportunities afforded to me during my time at 1/ST Racing. To the management team, trainers, owners, and the members of the racing department, I extend my sincerest gratitude and appreciation. Without them, I could not be where I am today.”
Merz also serves on the American Graded Stakes Committee and the Breeders’ Cup World Champion and Field Selection Committee.