The 2008 live racing season at Canterbury Park begins May 3, Kentucky Derby day, with an opening day program that will feature nine Thoroughbred races, including the fourth running of the $50,000 Shot of Gold Stakes.
Full-card simulcasting begins at 10 a.m., highlighted by the 134th Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs. Canterbury, whose own live card will begin at 1:30 p.m., will be the only location in Minnesota offering wagering on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Since moving the opener to the first Saturday in May, Canterbury Park has attracted its largest crowd of the season on opening day each of the past three years. Last year’s attendance was 16,597.
“Kicking off our live racing season on the same day as the Kentucky Derby has been a perfect fit,” said Randy Sampson, Canterbury Park's president. “Horse racing fans are excited about the Derby, as well as getting outside and enjoying the excitement of live racing. The Canterbury opener sends the message that summer has begun.”
This will be the 14th season of live racing since the publicly held Shakopee racetrack re-opened as Canterbury Park in 1995. Average attendance has increased each of the last 11 seasons, drawing more than 360,000 in 2007.
This summer’s 67-day meet, running through Labor Day, will offer a stakes schedule worth more than $2 million, part of a total purse structure of $10.3 million. The return of the $600,000 Claiming Crown Aug. 2 and the annual Minnesota Festival of Champions Aug. 17 will be the centerpieces of the racing season.