Canterbury Park’s 53-day horse racing season will conclude with 4:00 p.m. post times on Wednesday and Thursday. Each evening, 13 thoroughbred races will be run. A total of 247 horses were entered over the two programs for an average field size of 9.5, exceeding the season average of 7.2 horses per race.
The racing season, in jeopardy this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was postponed and subsequently shortened from the planned 65-days. The meet began June 10. Track officials abandoned weekend racing and shifted to a Monday through Thursday schedule where there would be less competition nationally for the wagering dollar.
On-track business suffered as capacity was limited to 750 spectators, substantially below the 2019 average attendance of 6,592, however wagering handle soared due to the schedule change as horseplayers across the country bet on Canterbury Park races in unprecedented numbers. Handle this season has already exceeded 2019’s record $48 million, with $63.8 million bet during the first 51 days and an additional $4 to $5 million expected over the final two days.
“It was crucial to the Minnesota horse racing and breeding industry that Canterbury Park conduct a meet in 2020,” Vice President of Racing Andrew Offerman said. “The support and guidance of the Minnesota Racing Commission and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture was very helpful as we found a way to make racing a reality in the current environment. The horsemen have been very supportive throughout the summer and operated in a manner that kept all participants safe. The efforts of the Canterbury Park staff must also be acknowledged as they have put in long hours implementing our safety plans.”
Wednesday’s program is highlighted by a $41,427 carryover in the 10% Takeout Pick 5 pool. The 50-cent base wager begins with the ninth race. Track officials anticipate the pool could swell to $250,000, far exceeding the average pool of nearly $75,000. Thursday features two $50,000 stakes races, the Tom Metzen HBPA Sprint and the Shakopee Juvenile.
Trainer Joel Berndt is on the cusp of winning his first leading trainer title at Canterbury, holding a 40 to 32 edge over 13-time leader Mac Robertson. Berndt has 28 horses entered, Robertson 17. Jockey Ry Eikleberry seeks his third riding title, he was best in 2014 and 2018, as he leads last year’s top jockey Francisco Arrieta by five wins, 71 to 66. While the lead is daunting it is not insurmountable with Arrieta named on horses in all 26 races. Eikleberry has 22 mounts.
Limited seating remains available and tickets can be purchased in advance.