Racing at Canterbury Park

Racing at Canterbury Park

Courtesy of Canterbury Park

Program to Help Struggling Minn. Horsemen

Canterbury Park and the Minnesota HBPA have a program to help get cash to horsemen.

Canterbury Park and the Minnesota Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association announced a plan July 4 to provide some financial assistance to horsemen as they deal with a state budget impasse that has cost the racetrack four cards so far, according to Daily Racing Form.

The plan offers cash payouts to be distributed based on the purse of cancelled races, Tom Metzen Sr., the Minnesota HBPA president, told the Form. The connections of horses entered in a non-stakes race with a purse of over $18,000 would be eligible to receive $2,000 if the race is cancelled. Races worth $10,000 to $18,000 would provide a cancellation payout of $1,000, while a race worth under $10,000 would provide a cancellation payment of $500.

To be eligible for the cancellation subsidy, the horse must make its next start at Canterbury Park after the track reopens.

Canterbury employees are also expected to pass out coupons this week for free meals at the track kitchen for backside employees.

A state budget impasse in Minnesota forced Canterbury Park to suspend operations at midnight July 1, leaving the remainder of its 2011 Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meet in question.

The Minnesota Racing Commission, also affected by the government shutdown, made a court appeal July 2 to keep its offices open but the request was denied by Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin even though the racing commission is fully funded by the racing industry and the commission’s expenses for July have already been paid, according to a report from the racetrack.

The commission intends to appeal.

In the meantime, 1,000 employees are out of work and horsemen are losing money. About 600 employees at Running Aces Harness Park in the north metro are also out of work during the shutdown, according to an online report by KSTP-TV, the ABC affiliate in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area.

Horsemen met July 4 with Metzen and Randy Sampson, Canterbury Park’s president and chief executive officer, to discuss the impact the government shutdown was having on them.

Canterbury Park spokesman Jeff Maday said the trainers are still training their horses in case the shutdown ends, but many have said they can’t stay at the track if the shutdown runs longer than a week. There are 1,300 horses stabled at Canterbury.

Minnesota’s budget woes have revived discussion about using racetrack video lottery terminals as a means to generate revenue. The concept, however, has been floated in numerous legislative sessions only to repeatedly fail.