An unusually large number of stall applications has led Canterbury Park to open its barn area seven days earlier than planned.
Officials at the Minnesota racetrack said March 20 they have received stall requests for 2,400 horses in the 1,600-stall stable area. Based on a request from horsemen, Canterbury will open the backstretch April 15, with the training track available the following day and the main track available April 22.
The 2013 meet begins May 17.
"We have received a record number of stall applications," Canterbury president Randy Sampson said. "Trainers that have raced here for years are increasing numbers and improving the quality of their stock, while several new trainers and owners, including some of the best in the Midwest, are intending to be here.
"If the weather cooperates we will open for training earlier than expected to make sure they are all ready to race."
Sampson and Minnesota Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association president Thomas Metzen reached an agreement to share the costs associated with an earlier start date for training, according to a release.
Renewed interest in Canterbury stems in large part from a joint marketing agreement management struck with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, which operates the nearby Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. Under the deal, Canterbury will receive $75 million over 10 years for purses in exchange for not lobbying the state legislature for gaming machines.
Purses increased midway through the 2012 meet, and this year will average about $170,000 a day, another record for the track.
Earlier this year, Javier Barajas was hired as track superintendent. Barajas holds a similar position at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai and will arrive at Canterbury in early April, officials said.