The 2014 Canterbury Park live racing season, the 20th since the Minnesota track reopened in 1995, begins Friday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m. CDT, in Shakopee.
Racing continues Saturday and Sunday with a new post time of 12:45 p.m. The 69-day race meet runs through Sept. 13.
"Opening night of the Canterbury Park racing season is on the calendar of race fans all over the state," track president Randy Sampson said. "The seemingly endless winter Minnesotans endured has left them as excited as I can remember for racing to get underway. Horses stepping onto the track for the first race Friday night is a sure sign of spring."
Sampson has been president of Canterbury since 1994 when he, his father Curtis, and South St. Paul businessman Dale Schenian purchased the shuttered racetrack property with the intent of returning live racing to the state the following year.
"Not many people gave us a chance to make it one year, much less 20," Sampson said. "Canterbury is still open today because of the support from the great fans of the sport and the owners and trainers that decide to race in Minnesota each summer. Now, with purse enhancements stemming from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community agreement, the future of Minnesota racing has never looked brighter."
The agreement, signed in 2012, calls for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, owners and operators of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, to add $75 million to purses over the 10-year term of the deal. Projected purses for the coming race meet are a record $13 million.
Friday's eight-race program features the 10,000 Lakes Stakes, a $60,000 six-furlong sprint restricted to horses bred in Minnesota. Two-time Canterbury Horse of the Year Heliskier will be ridden by Shakopee native Alex Canchari. Heliskier, 10th in all-time earnings at Canterbury, is trained by Mac Robertson, leading trainer the past nine seasons.
The 5-year-old Heliskier has won nine of 11 starts at Canterbury, including last year's 10,000 Lakes, and boasts career earnings of $242,668.
Robertson trains three of the seven entrants in the 10,000 Lakes as well as three of the eight entered in Saturday's feature race, the $60,000 Lady Slipper Stakes. Canterbury will also offer a simulcast of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), the second leg of the Triple Crown.
General admission to Canterbury Park is $6, with an additional charge for indoor reserved seating. Children 17 and younger are admitted free. General parking is free.