The Shakopee, Minn., track reported daily on-track handle declined 8.59% to $206,688, while attendance fell 1.6% to 5,475 when compared against the 68-day meet of 2007. But daily all-sources handle, not including separate pool wagering, averaged $470,652, a 0.4% decline from the $472,355, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems. Other than on-track handle and attendance, the track did not release end-of-meet figures.
Import handle, which is out-of-state wagering on Canterbury Park’s races, increased by 2.64%, the track reported. Officials attributed the increase to the return of the Claiming Crown race series, and increased distribution of Canterbury’s racing signal to wagering sites throughout the country. The Claiming Crown, which returned to Canterbury Park after being hosted by Ellis Park in 2007, has historically been the largest handle day of the live race meet.
“We knew coming into this season that it could be a difficult summer considering the economy, gas prices, and the fact that for the first time we had competition in our market from another racetrack, Running Aces Harness Park, which conducted live and simulcast wagering during our race meet," track president Randy Sampson said in a release. “We were pleased that in spite of these factors, our loyal race fans continued to come to the track, and we were able to attract new fans. They just had fewer dollars in their pockets to wager with.”
Canterbury Park’s 2008 race meet contained one less day of racing and 15 fewer total races than 2007, while the average number of starters per race increased 1.86% to 7.76. Daily average purses were up 0.53% to $125,969, according to TJCIS.
“We were pleased to put out a quality race card day after day with strong fields thanks to the ongoing support of our horsemen,” Sampson said. “While an increasing number of racetracks in the Midwest are able to offer higher purses due to slot revenue, we must rely on our solid relationship with our horsemen. We are proud that our horsemen-friendly reputation has allowed us to stay competitive in recruiting stables.”
Mac Robertson won his fourth consecutive Thoroughbred training title, with 77 wins. Derek Bell was the champion Thoroughbred rider for the sixth time. He had 93 wins. S E J Stables Inc. (Curt and Sharon Johnson of Detroit Lakes, Minn.) won the Thoroughbred owner title for the third consecutive year with 32 wins.