Shakopee, MN – Horse racing returns to Minnesota Friday, May 16 when Canterbury Park begins its 20th season. The 69-day race meet will run until Sept. 13. Weeknight racing begins at 6:30 pm. Racing on weekends and holidays will begin at 12:45 pm, 45 minutes earlier than prior years, with the exception being the five Saturdays in August when racing begins at 6:30 pm. The season opens with a three-day racing weekend. May 16 features the 10,000 Lakes Stakes and May 17 the Lady Slipper Stakes, both $60,000 sprint races, as well as a simulcast of the 139th Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown.
Canterbury Park’s nearly 1,600 horse stalls will be at capacity again this season for only the second time since 1991 due to a cooperative marketing and purse enhancement agreement reached in 2012 with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) which owns and operates Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. SMSC will contribute $75 million to the horsemen’s purse structure over the deal’s 10-year span. This season purses are estimated to reach a record $13 million.
“The future of racing in Minnesota is very bright,” Canterbury Park President Randy Sampson said. “Last season saw another increase in average attendance and on-track handle. Nationally we became more prominent because of the increase in the quality of our racing, resulting in the money bet on Canterbury out of state increasing 46 percent.”
Attendance averaged a record 6,656 in 2013. Combined handle, the amount of money wagered on Canterbury races both on and off track, was $37.7 million, a 34 percent increase.
The suburban Minneapolis racetrack originally opened in 1985 as Canterbury Downs but closed shortly after the 1992 season concluded. Sampson, his father Curtis, and businessman Dale Schenian purchased the track and surrounding property in 1994 and re-opened for simulcast racing in May of that year. With a new name, Canterbury Park, and a business plan that included year-round simulcasting and special events, live horse racing returned to the state in the summer of 1995. This year marks the 20th live racing season under the current ownership.
Fridays feature Minnesota’s Biggest Happy Hour with live music on the Mystic Lake Music Stage and drink specials. Sundays are Pepsi Family Day with free pony rides, face painting, and a petting zoo. The popular ‘Buck Night’ promotion, which includes $1 general admission and beverage and food specials, will be offered when Thursday night racing begins June 5. Each of the five Saturdays in August will feature a different theme and a 6:30 pm post time.
General admission to Canterbury Park is $6, with an additional charge for indoor, reserved seating. There are 10 designated Premium Days when general admission is $8. Children 17 and under are admitted free. General parking is free. For additional information, call the Canterbury Box Office at (952) 445-7224 or visit www.canterburypark.com.
Racing Days and Times
Live Race Dates: May 16 through Sept. 13
Thursdays beginning June 5 – 6:30 pm
Fridays – 6:30 pm
Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays – 12:45 pm
Saturdays in August – 6:30 pm
July 3 – Special 4:00 pm post time
Friday, May 16 – Opening Night
Monday, May 26* – Memorial Day racing at 12:45 pm.
Sunday, June 15* – Father’s Day featuring the Running of the Bulldogs
Wednesday, July 3* – 4:00 pm racing. Fireworks Spectacular and live music presented by Kwik Trip after the races
Saturday, July 12* – Mystic Lake Mile Day with performance by Human Cannonball David “The Bullet” Smith
Saturday, July 19* – Extreme Race Day with camel, ostrich, and zebra races
Sunday, August 31* – Minnesota Festival of Champions
Monday, Sept. 1* – Labor Day Wiener Dog Wars
Saturday, Sept. 13* – Final day of live racing featuring $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby and Indian Horse Relay
*indicates Premium Day