Canterbury Park Forced to Suspend Operations

Canterbury Park was forced to suspend operations July 1.

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.

Canterbury president Randy Sampson earlier warned that should the impasse drag out, horsemen may opt to leave Minnesota. The meet extends through early September. In a June 30 statement he reiterated that possibility.

“We are hopeful that this government shutdown is short-lived and that a budget solution will soon be found,” Sampson said. “However, should the stalemate continue for another week or two, there is the real possibility that owners and trainers will start moving their horses from Canterbury to other racetracks. Once they leave, it is unlikely they will return.

“If the budget impasse continues beyond early July, the impact could be devastating for Canterbury and the horse industry. It is possible that Canterbury and its horsemen could lose the remainder of their racing season.”

The Minnesota Racing Commission, which regulates racing and gaming at Canterbury, is part of the government shutdown. Canterbury offers live racing, full-card simulcasts, and a card casino.

Sampson said he’s frustrated given the fact the MRC is funded by the racing industry.

“The MRC is entirely funded by the racing industry, receives no money from the general fund, and has already received reimbursement for expected July expenses,” he said. “However it is still subject to a shutdown.”

Running Aces Harness Park, which also has a card club, suspended operations as well because of the budget impasse.

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.