SHAKOPEE, MN – The biggest news heading into the Canterbury Park meet this season was the reduced takeout across the board and as the season wraps, the results of the bold experiment are mixed.
While on track handle and attendance remained relatively flat, there was a spike in off-track total handle, rising 8.9% year over year. On track handle slipped slightly, down 2.9%. All sources daily average handle was $627,594 compared to $587,571 for an average daily handle increase of 6.8%.
Canterbury’s meet ran well ahead compared to national trends reported by the Blood-Horse on September 5th. In that article, the Blood-Horse reported total national handle trending upward at just under 1% year over year through the end of August:
In terms of handle, this season shapes up to be similar to 2015 when betting improved 1.2%. Through August, pari-mutuel wagering was up 0.95% to $7.595 billion. Purses are off 0.66% this year to $714.6 million, a trend that if it continues would mark a fourth straight season of purse declines of less than 2%.
Regionally, Arlington Park has reported major slides in handle this season with August being off 15% year over year – a trend that hasn’t let up since the early in the meet. Prairie Meadows has not released handle data for this season yet with the quarter horse meet still in process, but from 2014 to 2015 the track experienced a 4% drop in handle.
Total purses at Canterbury were up 1.8% year over year, $14,401,205 versus $14,152,193.
The number of races run were relatively flat with three more quarter horse races but four less thoroughbred races than 2015. However, weather was a factor affecting turf races at Canterbury this season.
In 2015, 153 races were carded for the turf course and only 12 of those came off the turf resulting in 46 scratches. This season, four fewer turf races were carded but 43 of those came off the turf which resulted in 119 scratches which helps to account for the 4% slip in average thoroughbred field size this season (8 starters per race this year compared to 7.68 in 2016). In 2015 only 1 day was ‘off the turf’ after June 20 compared to 16 from July 4 through the end of the meet this season.
The quarter horse meet, however, showed a large jump in field size with an average of 8.11 horses stepping into the gate versus 7.45 in 2015.
Claiming activity was well behind 2015 levels this year. In 2015, 90 horses changed hands through the claim box while this season there were 79 claims. The average value of a claim was $8,883 this season versus $10,094 last year.
Track officials will spend some time analyzing the data before determining the direction the track will take in 2017.
Mac Robertson regained the top trainer title with 71 wins and a record $1.57 million in purses won – over 10% of the total purse money available.
Dean Butler outlasted a three win final day by Alex Canchari to win the riding title 82-81. Butler also set a record for purse money won with over $1.8 million.
Novogratz Racing Stables was the top owner at the meet with 17 wins and $295,128 with an outstanding win percentage of 35% and 69% of all starters finishing in the money.
For the quarter horse season, Nik Goodwin ran away with the riding title with 19 wins on the season and also put himself in a position to become the all-time winningest in Canterbury Park history in 2017 in need of 7 more wins.
Trainer Jason Olmstead was meet’s leading quarter horse trainer with 23 wins while Summer Run Inc were the leading owners with 7 wins.
Canterbury also announced the divisional champions of the 2016 meet:
Horse of the Year: Majestic Pride (owner: Hugh Robertson, Jeff Ryan & Gary Chanen; trainer Mac Robertson
Older Horse: Majestic Pride
Older Filly/Mare: Secret Someone (owner: Mt. Brilliant Stable LLC; trainer: Michael Stidham)
3-Year Old Male: One Mean Man (owner: L.T.B Inc. and Hillerich Racing LLC; trainer: Bernard Flint)
3-Year Old Filly: Honey’s Sox Appeal (owner: Bob Lindgren; trainer: Mac Robertson)
2-Year Old: Line Judge (owner: Barry & Joni Butzow; trainer: Joe Sharp)
Sprinter: Honey’s Sox Appeal
Claimer: True West (owner: Rick Bremer & Cheryl Sprick; trainer: Karl Broberg)
Grass horse: Majestic Pride
Quarter Horse: Pyc Bite Mydust (owner: Lunderborg LLC; trainer Jason Olmstead)
FINAL MEET LEADERS
Trainer: Mac Robertson
Owner: Novogratz Stables
Jockey: Dean Butler
Trainer: Jason Olmstead
Owner: Summer Run Inc.
Jockey: Nik Goodwin