SHAKOPEE, MN – One weekend doesn’t make a season but if opening weekend at Canterbury Park is any indication, the takeout reduction this season has caught the imagination of players.
Wagering on Canterbury Park’s opening weekend races increased by 31 percent compared to 2015, racetrack officials announced. Canterbury conducted 25 races Friday through Sunday, handling a total of $2,024,819 in bets, $478,057 more than the same opening weekend in 2015. The per-race average grew 26 percent to $80,992.
Wagering on track was up 25 percent and wagers from sources outside of Canterbury increased by 34 percent.
“Historically the day after Preakness is the slowest day of the year,” said Vice President of Racing Operations Eric Halstrom said Sunday. “But today looks like it will turn out to be good solid Sunday.”
Not all was glory as the prices opening night were generally suppressed with winners returning an average of $5.45 and the longest shot of the day only paid $6.60. It remained to be seen whether the low prices that evening would keep bettors at arm’s length the next day, but Saturday wagering was still strong, favorites were having a harder time finding the winners’ circle and bettors enjoyed more of a return from their labor.
On track attendance for a gorgeous opening night was 7,439 and was followed up by 8,477 on Preakness Day and a 5,642 on Sunday. All considerable increases over 2015.
“We anticipated our out-of-state handle would increase significantly and the results of opening weekend were right in line with our expectations,” track President Randy said Sampson. “We are also very encouraged by the significant increases in on-track attendance and handle as perfect weather and the takeout reduction combined to make for a very successful opening weekend for on-track business.”
“The support of horsemen showed at the entry box as well, with more than 200 horses entered in the 25 races,” Sampson said. “With many horses yet to arrive and young horses still getting ready to race, I would expect our horses per race to increase as the meet progresses and we again will have average field size exceed the national average.”
While a Jackpot Pick 5 bet was scrapped due to the large takeout it requires, the track is looking at debuting a straight Pick 5 bet a later in the meet. That decision has not yet been finalized.
“I don’t believe in jinxes,” said Halstrom. “But it would be hard to imagine a better opening weekend. It is going to be very interesting to watch the season unfold.”