Canterbury Racing

Canterbury Racing

Courtesy of Canterbury Park

Shutdown Hurts Canterbury, But Business Good

The Minnesota racetrack closed for three weeks during a government shutdown.

Canterbury Park officials said overall business numbers for the Minnesota track’s 2011 meet were “encouraging” in the face of 20 lost days caused by a state government shutdown.

Earlier this year track officials said the three-week shutdown of the racing operation and card club would impact the bottom line by millions of dollars. The track is publicly traded under the Canterbury Park Holding Corp.

The scheduled 62-day meet was reduced to 56 days. Average daily attendance increased for a third consecutive year to 6,143, ontrack handle was on par with last year, and wagering on Canterbury races elsewhere increased 6.3%, officials said.

“Overall the numbers are encouraging,” Canterbury president Randy Sampson said. “Fans continue to enjoy horse racing, and that shows in the attendance increase. We also offered a number of special events in conjunction with the races this year that drew large crowds.”

The 20-day shutdown cost Canterbury revenue that will impact either racing dates or purses in 2012.

“It is likely we will have to run fewer race days or offer lower purses,” Sampson said. “Neither option is good for the racing industry and the state of Minnesota.”

Purses this year averaged $103,121 a day, down slightly from $105,852 last year, according to The Jockey Club Information Systems, while average field size increased to 7.91 from 7.48 in 2010.

Purses for Minnesota-bred races held steady; the figure was $2.37 million this year versus $2.35 million last year, according to TJCIS.

On the racetrack, Mac Robertson was leading trainer with 43 victories; Dean Butler rode 83 winners to take the riding title; and the top owner with 15 wins was the partnership of Al and Bill Ulwelling of Minnesota.