(Edited track report)
Increases in every statistical category were reported by Canterbury Park officials in a summary of the final results of the 2003 live racing meet, which ended Sept. 1.
The 2003 meet, with 63 days of live racing, saw 302,771 racing fans pass through the Canterbury Park gates. The season total represents an increase of 14.1% over the 61-day 2002 meet. The average daily attendance was 4,806 compared to 4,350 last year, representing a 10.5% increase. Both the total attendance and average daily attendance are the highest since the track re-opened in 1995 and extended to seven the consecutive years of attendance gains.
Canterbury Park's attendance increases were reflected in the handle figures. Total live on-track handle of $17.6 million represented an increase of 15.5% compared to 2002. The average daily live on-track handle increased by 11.8%, with the most noticeable jump occurring on Thursday nights - up by 26.4%. While average daily simulcast figures increased by less than 1%, the average daily total on-track handle (live and simulcast) still was up by 8.9%.
The most significant factor in the marked handle increases is the return of the Claiming Crown races to Canterbury Park. On that day (July 19) Canterbury Park reported a record total handle of $3,560,228. The import wagering on Claiming Crown day was $2,463,864, ultimately resulting in an increase in out-of-state wagering of 12.6% for the 2003 season.
Total average daily purse payments of $127,302 represented an 11% increase from $114,730 in 2002 thanks to the presence of Claiming Crown in 2003 and to the continued success of the Canterbury Card Club.
"These are results we could have only dreamed about heading into 2003." said Canterbury Park president Randy Sampson. "Thursday and Friday nights were the most encouraging benchmarks of our success this season. The attendance and handle increases were extraordinary, leading us to believe that our marketing and public relations efforts to attract new, younger fans are working.
"Fans responded to the combination of our Thursday 'Buck Night' and boxing promotions and Friday night live music, which are indicative of the great horse-racing entertainment we present. Also, the presence of Claiming Crown and its impact on our product is undeniable, which is why we are in talks to bring it back to Canterbury in 2004. Finally, we have to thank Mother Nature for a beautiful summer."