BY JIM WELLS
Contingency planning continued on Sunday, explained in many cases as “a just in case” approach to the upcoming week when the fate of racing for the summer will be determined, by the courts, legislature or possibly both.
The general outlook at Canterbury Park remains positive, although the stress of the ongoing, protracted debate is clearly taking a toll on those directly involved with the seemingly endless process.
Canterbury president Randy Sampson has been on his cell phone constantly in recent weeks _ even more so now with the Friday deadline imminent _ regardless of his location _ paddock, grandstand, hallway, winner’s circle.
How much do the countless communications take up of the day?
“A lot,” he said.
There have been a few defections or shipouts in anticipation of a negative outcome, but for the most part trainers and horsemen are standing pat, awaiting a decision.
“I can stay for a few days,” said trainer Bryan Porter. “I can keep some Minnesota-bred horses here but will have to ship out the others. You know, it cost me $2,500 to ship in here. It will be another $2,500 to leave”
Meanwhile, debate on the issues surrounding Minnesota racing continued unabated on nearly every level of the grandstand.
“It’s not just this shutdown,” said one player.
“How about taking an honest look at what’s going on with the casinos in Minnesota.”
He then went on to argue about the lack of oversight given the reservation moneymakers.
“There was more oversight on the Vegas casinos when they were run by the mob,” he said.
“Even today, go anywhere in Vegas and you ‘ll see percentages of payouts posted _ aside from the progressive slots.”
The argument for a Canterbury Racino gains additional weight with the state’s burgeoning need for cash to survive the financial crisis. With Racino currency, the state’s financial outlook would improve, as would racing in Shakopee, the state’s agriculture attached to horses and the equine industry itself.
“It’s a no brainer,” the patron said. “The state benefits, the industry benefits, racing benefits and the bettor benefits with larger payouts and some oversight.”
Meanwhile, Canterbury continues to advocate its cause, imploring its patrons to “help us pass the Racino and stop the shutdown” in the daily programs. Included are telephone numbers for senate majority leader Amy Koch, house majority leader Kurt Zellers and Governor Mark Dayton.
Meanwhile, Sampson disseminated a letter Sunday to horsemen informing them of management’s outlook, its contingency plans and possible changes to the racing cards in the upcoming week.
One option is to run two cards on a single day, Friday’s card prior to Thursday’s, the last day of racing if a shutdown occurs.
Sampson said that he expects “the process will drag out until midweek and create a lot of stress and uncertainty for everyone.”
As if it hasn’t already.
A STEAMY DAY AT THE TRACK
Sunday’s card _ perhaps the first of only two, or three this week _ went on as planned.
It began with Lori Keith, who continues to make her presence felt in Shakopee, riding Linovision for Miguel Silva as the winner of the race one.
Juan Rivera, looking fit after a recent bout with an intestinal disorder, brought in Tapinot for Mike Biehler in race two, giving Canterbury’s leading owners, Al and Bill Ulwelling, another winner.
Derek Bell was an easy winner aboard Victory Sled in race three for trainer Bruce Riecken. . That brought a shout from 12-year-old Rachel Riecken, who was part of the contingent gathered for the winning picture. Riecken’s horse, Trust N You, had run out of the money in race one.
“Hey, dad, ” Rachel bellowed, “was I right. Didn’t I say the first horse was going to lose and the second would win.”
“She gets a little excited,” Bruce said, “more so then her sister Maci, 14.”
It was an agreeable finish for Bell, who made the tiring trek to Prairie Meadows after Saturday’s card for the Grade III, $300,000 Cornhusker Handicap and finished fourth, aboard Stachys from the Mike Biehler barn.
Bell was hopeful at the mile and 1/8 distance that the speed would back up, a must for his mount to overtake them. “The track was hard and fast and they didn’t back up,” he said.
None of that was necessary with Victory Sled, an easy winner, and Bell added another win, on Gold Brew in race seven.
Sunday’s big winner was Don’t Bluff, trained by Kyle Schindler, in race eight. Ridden Anne Von Rosen, Don’t Bluff paid $41.40, $17.20 and $7.60 across the board.
Two quarter horse races completed the card. Jennifer Schmidt was on Courtney Kansas, a clear winner in the ninth, but the Casey Black-trainee was disqualified from first and placed ninth for interference out of the gate. Meter Me A Lady, trained by Bob Johnson and ridden by Clyde Smith, moved up, into the winner’s circle.
Kate for a Corona, ridden by Rusty Shaw, completed the card, winning the 10th in :13.54.