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Nat Wess Retires

Shakopee, MN — Nat Wess, a fixture on the racing scene in California and Minnesota, retired December 31, 2009, completing a 45-year career in thoroughbred racing. Wess, 70, landed his first racing-related job in 1964 as a publicity assistant at Santa Anita in Arcadia, CA. “I was the low man on a four-person totem pole,” Wess said. Since then he has held positions at Canterbury Park, Bay Meadows, and the California Breeders’ Association.

Wess served as assistant general manager at then Canterbury Downs in Shakopee, MN from 1985 – 1988, during its first years of operation. Wess next returned to California and became vice president and general manager of the California Breeders’ Association, where he was instrumental in the development and success of Cal Cup, a day of racing dedicated to horses bred in that state.

Wess was also assistant general manager at Bay Meadows in San Mateo, CA from 1995 through 1998. He made his first attempt at retirement in April, 1998 and moved back to Minnesota. Retirement, however, did not last long for the dynamic Wess. He soon became involved with Claiming Crown as the event’s coordinator from 1999 – 2009, seeing it through 11 years of growth. “I was just going to help out with recruiting for Claiming Crown for the first year,” Wess said. “But things changed at Canterbury and track president Randy Sampson asked me to stay on to help with the racing department after that.” Wess and wife Ellen make their home in Eden Prairie, MN.