SHAKOPEE, MN – Closing day at Canterbury Park could not have been more perfect. The sun was shining brightly, the scattered clouds were non-threatening and there was just a hint of Minnesota fall in the air.
Every trainer and owner was looking to get out of town with a win as the field size for the finale was over 10 horses per race. Every horse but one in the first race of the day, a bottom level state bred maiden claiming race, were dropping steeply trying to get a win without fear of a claim.
It’s the way the meet tends to end and it was quite the meet.
From 2009 – 2013 Canterbury set daily average attendance records each year. After a bit of a lull in 2014 attendance (with one less racing day on the calendar) overall attendance shot up 8.3% as daily average attendance checked in at a record 6,695 per race day. Total attendance for the season was 468,641, easily eclipsing the previous record of 459,276, also set in 2013, – with one more racing day (70) in 2015 than 2013.
That wasn’t the only metric where Canterbury made gains.
Total on track handle for the meet rose modestly by 1.7% while out of state handle soared 16.1% to $28,621,480. Overall live racing handle for the meet reached $41,130,004, the first time that number topped the $40 million mark since the early 1990s.
While claiming activity at the Shakopee oval slipped a bit, 126 horses claimed in 2014 as opposed to 90 in 2015, the average claiming price of the horses claimed was up over 20% to $10,094.
“The quality of racing at Canterbury Park has reached a new high thanks to the support of the local horsemen who have raced in Minnesota through thick and thin, and to the new owners and trainers who have taken Canterbury Park racing to the next level,” President Randy Sampson said. “The increased quality of racing and depth of competitiveness not only is exciting for fans at the track, but also has attracted new wagering customers throughout the country.”
Not coincidently, 2015 was a record year at Canterbury for purse distribution. Over $14.1 million in purses was paid out this season thanks to the cooperative marketing agreement between the track and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in 2012.
While nationally field size, or lack thereof, has been a real issue, Canterbury was able to stay virtually flat year over year with field size stable at 8 horses per thoroughbred race compared to 8.22 last season. Quarter Horse field size stayed relatively flat as well, though with a slight increase, at 7.45 versus 7.23.
State bred 2-year old races were more apparent this season and drew large numbers of entries.
“It was exciting to see that first crop of purse-induced 2-year-olds on the racetrack. They represent a promising future,” Sampson said. “The Minnesota breeding opportunities are as strong as ever.”
There were also a pair of record par-mutuel payouts this year. In a season where record win and superfecta payouts were recorded, it was fitting that the season ended with a boxcars payout: Pastero paid $72.20 to win and triggered a $633.80 exacta with 28-1 Consolidation finishing second. A little spare change for a few lucky gamblers to carry into 2016.