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Opening Night Handle $1.6m; Limited Fans But Still Good To Be Racing

The gates popped for the first time on Wednesday. There was no crowd. There was no noise other than the voice of Paul Allen. “I might have missed it if I didn’t know what to expect,” said a photojournalist on site to capture the opening night of the first professional sporting event in the Twin Cities. There were feelings of joy, relief, and sadness.  Joy that the season was underway, racing was underway. Relief that it happened after all that has unfolded since mid-March. And sadness felt by the select few at the track that could not share the experience with thousands of other race fans. That will change. The facility too large to be restricted to just 250 guests. Common sense, or ‘the math’ as some like to call it, dictates otherwise.

Quarter horse trainer Jason Olmstead was expected to win the opening night feature, the $20,000 Cam Casby Stakes, and he did. It just was not with Dickey Bob, the horse favored at 1 to 2 by the bettors. Instead stablemate Polar Xpress was the winner while Dickey Bob got left in the starting gate.

“[Dickey Bob] false started and got himself left,” Olmstead, five-time leading trainer at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack, said. “Take nothing away from Polar Xpress. She is a solid mare.”

Jockey Marcus Swiontek was aboard the winner who is owned by Summer Run, Inc. Swiontek knew he won the race “as soon as I broke and Dickey Bob wasn’t next to me,” he said. Polar Xpress finished a neck in front of Haute Wagon, covering 300 yards in 15.573 seconds. Pyc Jess Bite Mydust, also trained by Olmstead, finished third. Dickey Bob finished last in the seven-horse field. The winner returned $12.40

Canterbury Park began its amended 52-day season with spectators limited to 250, all sequestered in the clubhouse, due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Total handle for the nine race program was $1,635,935 with $74,993 wagered on track.