National won the H.B.P.A. Sprint Overnight Stakes on closing day at Canterbury Park.

National won the H.B.P.A. Sprint Overnight Stakes on closing day at Canterbury Park.

Coady Photography

Canterbury Park Wraps Up Successful Season

Minnesota track reports across-the-board increases as season comes to close Sept. 14.

The 6-day racing season at Canterbury Park, the longest since 2006, concluded Sept. 14 with gains in average handle and attendance.

Off-track wagering, dollars bet on Canterbury races at other tracks and through Internet sites, increased by a whopping 46.7%, while average daily on-track wagering was up 4.8%. Average daily attendance was 6,656, a Canterbury Park record.

"We set a couple of goals this season," Canterbury Park CEO Randy Sampson said. "First, we wanted to improve the quality of our racing product by attracting new stables and more horses. We knew if that happened we could accomplish our second goal which was to increase our national exposure and wagering handle."

Canterbury’s races were broadcast by TVG on Thursdays and Fridays, helping fuel ADW figures. Total off-track wagering on those nights increased by 80.3%.

Average field size, 8.36 starters per race, was up this season as well, which aided the wagering increase. The quality and depth of those fields also improved, as witnessed by favorites winning at a 35% rate compared to 45% last year.

For the first time since 1991, Canterbury’s 1,600 stalls were filled by racehorses as several new trainers tried the Shakopee, Minn., racetrack for the first time. Purses this season were more than double what they were in 2011 due to a joint purse enhancement and marketing agreement signed in June 2012 with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The agreement will add $75 million to horsemen purses over the life of the 10-year deal. A record of $12,453,268 in purse money was paid this season.

The increased purses attracted Midwest Thoroughbreds, the leading owners in the nation for the past three years, to Canterbury for the first time. Their stable was handled by trainer Roger Brueggemann, who won 28 races making Midwest Thoroughbreds the meet’s leading owner.

"This year was a great step toward what we hope to accomplish with our live racing," Sampson said. "Prominent horsemen find our purse structure attractive and horseplayers across the country are taking notice as well."

Mac Robertson won his ninth consecutive training title with 51 victories. He set a single-season earnings record of $1,340,429.

Dean Butler won the riding title for the fourth time. He finished the season with 67 wins, two more than Alex Canchari.

Heliskier was voted Horse of the Year for the second season in a row. The 4-year-old Minnesota-bred gelding won three of five starts including the 10,000 Lakes Stakes and the Crocrock Minnesota Sprint Championship. Heliskier is owned by Marlene Colvin of Ethan, S.D., and is trained by Robertson.