The annual Minnesota Festival of Champions, a day restricted to the best horses bred in the state, will be held for the 24th time Aug. 20 at Canterbury Park.
The first of 11 races is scheduled to begin at 12:45 p.m. Sunday at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack. A total of 94 horses have been entered to compete for $585,800 in purse money.
"The State Tournament of Horse Racing" was first held in 1992 and was the final day of pari-mutuel horse racing in Minnesota until Randy and Curtis Sampson, along with South St. Paul businessman Dale Schenian, purchased Canterbury in 1994 and revived live racing in 1995. The Festival of Champions has been a centerpiece of the racing season ever since.
The $60,000 Crocrock Minnesota Sprint Championship is a battle of veterans versus a young dynamo. Hold for More, a 5-year-old owned by Schenian, is the all-time leading money earner in the history of Canterbury Park with $371,250. The 9 to 5 morning line favorite will be ridden by Orlando Mojica and is trained by Francisco Bravo. Last year Hold for More won the Crocrock Sprint, beating Bourbon County, who had won the race in 2014 and 2015, by a neck. The 7-year-old Bourbon County, whose earnings total $294,447, is also entered Sunday. They face three-year-old Hot Shot Kid, undefeated this season at Canterbury with four wins including the Victor S. Myers Stakes and the Minnesota Derby, in the Sprint field of seven. Hot Shot Kid, with a lifetime record of five wins from eight starts, has earned $212,160 in purses; $127,860 of that total was earned at Canterbury. The gelding is owned by Warren Bush of Wall Lake, Iowa and is trained by leading trainer Mac Robertson, who has a record 28 Festival Day victories. Alex Canchari will ride Hot Shot Kid. Robertson also trains Bourbon County. The field is rounded out by stakes winners Smooth Chiraz and Fridaynitestar as well as Johnny the Jet and Best of the Bleu's.
General admission is $9. Children 17 and younger are admitted free. Parking is free. A Canterbury Park-themed t-shirt will be given to the first 4,000 adults through the admission gates which open at 11:30 a.m. Food Trucks will be featured on the track apron with 16 vendors from around the Twin Cities represented. Free pony rides, a petting zoo, and face painting will also be available from 12:30 to 4 p.m.