Racing at Canterbury Park

Racing at Canterbury Park

Coady Photography

Minnesota-Breds Featured at Canterbury

Minnesota Festival of Champions offering more than $564,000 in purses Aug. 31.

A total of 98 horses have been entered for the 11 races that comprise the 21st Minnesota Festival of Champions Aug. 31 at Canterbury Park.

With more than $564,000 in purses, there will be six stakes for Thoroughbreds, two for Quarter Horses, plus three additional Thoroughbred turf races, all restricted to horses bred in Minnesota.

"This is the richest day in the history of Minnesota-bred racing," Canterbury Park president Randy Sampson said. "With breeding on the rise in the state and purses increasing thanks to the purse enhancement agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, I see a bright future for Festival of Champions and the entire Minnesota racing industry."

The festival was first held in 1992, the same year the owners at that time closed the racetrack at the end of the season. Racing returned to Canterbury under new ownership in 1995, as did the Festival of Champions, and it has been a centerpiece of the racing season at the Shakopee, Minn. oval ever since.

"The 1992 Festival, held at the end of that season, was a success despite a disinterested ownership and a failing business," Sampson said. "It showed that racing, with proper promotion and leadership, could thrive in Minnesota and it led to Minnesotans purchasing the business a couple of years later."

Sampson, one of the organizers of the 1992 event, has been Canterbury Park's president since he, his father Curtis, and South St. Paul businessman Dale Schenian purchased the track in 1994.