By Noah Joseph
One of the surprises when Canterbury Park’s 2019 racing schedule was released was a week-long break, from July 15-July 24, due to the Twin Cities Summer Jam music festival. Now that this hiatus is upon us, it seemed like a good time to take a look at Canterbury’s past schedules and how they have changed over the years.
When Canterbury reopened in 1995, the racing schedule was from mid-May to mid-August, 51 days, utilizing purse money built up from a year of simulcast wagering revenue. Keep in mind that in the earlier Downs years, as many as 137 days were conducted. In 2001, a year after the opening of the Canterbury Card Club which also aided racing purses, Canterbury changed the schedule for the first time. The season still began in mid-May, but ended on Labor Day, the day most people consider the unofficial end of summer. The change was an instant success with many fans coming to close out the season.
In 2005, Canterbury decided to open even earlier, on Kentucky Derby day, the first Saturday in May. It was the most popular day of the season with more than16,000 fans passing through the gates. In total, 69 days, the most ever as Park, were run. Unfortunately, in 2008 the economy took a down turn and Canterbury, as did many businesses, made adjustments. The track reverted to the 90s schedule in 2009, this time ending in late August instead of mid-August for a total of 62 race dates. A 2011 state government shutdown forced Canterbury to be closed for 21 business days, and the track lost 12 racing dates. Canterbury added some of canceled days to the end of the season and finished in mid-September with 56 days of racing, the fewest since 1999.
In 2012, after the meet began, Canterbury Park and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, owners and operators of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, signed a joint marketing and purse enhancement agreement that more than doubled available purses. In 2013, race days increased to 69 with Canterbury moving closing day to the second Saturday in September. And then in 2017, Canterbury moved opening day back to Kentucky Derby weekend where it has remained to this season.
Don’t worry race fans, Canterbury’s live racing will return July 25th!