Higher purses revitalize Canterbury Park as expected

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 13, 2013 - 1:06 AM

Wagering, attendance and the number of horses all have increased at Canterbury Park this season.


He can’t say he was surprised. Randy Sampson has seen the formula produce results at other racetracks around the country, and he believed it would do the same at Canterbury Park.

The president of the Shakopee track predicted that higher purses would attract larger fields of better-quality horses, which would then stimulate more wagering. Through the first 30 days of a 69-day racing season, things are playing out just as he hoped. Average daily wagering on Canterbury’s races has increased 22.5 percent, and attendance and simulcast handles also have risen.

The track handled more than $1 million on consecutive days on July 3 and 4, which Sampson said was unprecedented in the 19 seasons he has managed Canterbury Park. He is anticipating another big day Saturday for the $125,000 Mystic Lake Mile and $100,000 Lady Canterbury. The richest thoroughbred races of the season thus far, each attracted full fields of 12 horses, with several shipping in from tracks such as Churchill Downs and Arlington Park.

The purse-enhancement agreement signed last summer with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has pushed purses 18 percent higher than last season — and more than twice what was paid out in 2011. That has filled Canterbury’s stables to capacity during a season that also has seen an uptick in average daily attendance (6,306, up 2.1 percent) and average daily total handle ($673,922, up 17.3 percent).

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,’’ Sampson said. “It is a breakthrough for horse racing in Minnesota. And it’s only the first step. We think things will continue to improve.’’

Stall superintendent Mark Stancato was scrambling Thursday to find stable space for the horses shipping in to run Saturday. He said the number of horses on the grounds peaked at 1,591 — 260 more than last season — and all 240 dorm rooms are full. The biggest complaint has been that some horsemen cannot bring in as many horses and workers as they want because there are no more accommodations.

By mid-July, Stancato explained, the number of horses usually declines as trainers move on to other tracks. This year, space remains tight in the 1,600 stalls. “For every two that leave, three want to come in,’’ he said. “It’s a lovely problem to have.’’

It’s also a rare one. National statistics show a downturn in wagering, purses and racing days at American thoroughbred tracks in 2013, with many struggling to fill races. Canterbury’s average field size has increased from 7.33 horses last year to 8.08 this season, making its races more attractive to horseplayers around the country.

Sampson said the track has marketed itself more aggressively through national channels such as the Daily Racing Form and TVG, a cable network that televises races and allows viewers to bet on them. That has helped fuel a 34.1 percent rise in daily out-of-state wagering on Canterbury’s races. And with more money in the betting pools, Sampson said, local players who bet heavily on simulcast racing have begun wagering more on Canterbury’s races.

The increase in the size and quality of the horse population has made it tougher to claim a piece of those fatter purses. Trainer Valorie Lund, in her third season at Canterbury, said some horses that could have won easily in past seasons are not having as much success this year.

Still, Lund noted, the higher purses mean that horses now can earn good money by finishing second or third — something that would have been impossible before. Even though her winning percentage has decreased, she is glad to be in Shakopee this summer.

“It’s a very strong meet,’’ Lund said. “Any time you have bigger fields, it’s good for racing, because it helps that handle go up. And that’s good for everybody. It’s exciting to see what’s happening here.’’

  • related content

  • Chart: Big year so far, big weekend ahead for Canterbury Park

    Friday July 12, 2013

    BIG YEAR, BIG WEEKENDA year after it signed a purse-enhancement agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Canterbury Park has...

  • Canterbury Park opens its season Friday with great optimism after seve...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL


question of the day

Poll: What chance does the Wild have of making the playoffs?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters