Veteran racing industry executive and former Deputy Director of Minnesota Racing Commission, Joe Scurto, has been selected to head the newly created Minnesota Racehorse Engagement Project. In his role as Executive Director, Scurto will be leading the new initiative which was announced earlier by Canterbury Park and the Minnesota Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association (MNHBPA) to drive thoroughbred racehorse ownership and further expand aftercare programs in the state.
“Joe brings a unique resume and passion for the industry that will enable this new project to take advantage of all Minnesota horse racing has to offer. His marketing experience, industry participation as a horse owner, leadership in directing the Minnesota Breeders’ Fund Advisory Committees, and his work as a regulator with the Minnesota Racing Commission, provide the ideal background to help us introduce the next generation of racehorse owners and breeders to this wonderful sport,” stated Canterbury Park CEO, Randy Sampson.
Representatives from Canterbury Park and the Minnesota HBPA agree on the importance of incentivizing ownership and developing a greater interest in racehorse ownership, and have agreed on jointly funding this project, which now also includes the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association (MTA).
Canterbury Park and the Minnesota HBPA have been dedicated, since 2008, to provide specific aftercare funding that generates more than $75,000 per meet for aftercare funding through per start contributions made by the horsemen and matched by Canterbury Park.
“We have been at the forefront of innovation and we have long supported thoroughbred retirement efforts financially; however, the time has come to more actively engage in the process of recruiting and retaining industry participants on all levels,” Minnesota HBPA President Scott Rake said.
Scurto sees the program as an exciting challenge that has key characteristics that will lead to the project’s overall success. “Canterbury Park’s commitment to the live product, through an average daily attendance that exceeds 6,500, provides one of the largest local bases of racing fans in North America. They also created the first racehorse ownership club concept that is now common-place at tracks throughout the country. Most importantly, this is a cooperative effort by all industry stakeholders, who have provided an extended commitment, which will allow us to engage people on all levels using innovative marketing channels that have yet to be applied to horse racing.”
The Minnesota Racehorse Engagement Project will use the thoroughbred racehorse as the centerpiece of its work. “Our goal is to provide opportunities for Minnesotans to connect with racehorses, both active and retired, through engagement programs designed to provide unique and memorable experiences. We want to share this truly one of kind experience that happens when people and these exceptional equine athletes engage with each other,” Scurto added.
Anyone who is interested can learn more at racehorseminnesota.com or on any of the organization’s social media pages.