Canterbury Park was bigger this summer, now it wants to be better

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 16, 2013 - 1:35 AM

Canterbury Park achieved its goal of bigger fields; next up, attracting better horses.

hide

Heliskier (6) beat Desert Alley(1) at Canterbury Park earlier this month.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii/,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

 

By most measures, Mac Robertson enjoyed another stellar summer at Canterbury Park. As the Shakopee track ended its 69-day racing season Saturday, he already had wrapped up his ninth consecutive training title, and he had set a track record for the most purse money won in a single season.

Robertson, though, did not visit the winner’s circle as frequently as he has in his best seasons — and given what that meant for the track, it didn’t bother him in the least. “It definitely got tougher to win this year,” said Robertson, who won two races Saturday to finish with 51 victories. “That’s not necessarily good for me. But the more competitive it gets, that’s good for the track and for racing.”

Canterbury attracted more horses, more wagering, more spectators and more out-of-state interest in the second year of its $75 million, 10-year purse enhancement agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Each of the 10 races on Saturday’s final card included a hefty field of 10 or more horses, and an announced 12,160 fans turned out for the finale of Canterbury’s longest season since 2006.

The track’s average attendance of 6,656 and average live-racing handle of $546,532 were the highest since its reopening in 1995. It showed increases over last year in all handle categories — including a 32 percent spike in out-of-state betting on Canterbury races — and saw average total handle rise 16 percent to $687,856 per day. A capacity crowd of 1,594 horses pushed average field size to 8.36, the largest since 2003.

Canterbury Park President Randy Sampson said the track will offer at least 69 days of racing next year, when purses are scheduled to increase again. While he was pleased with the quantity of horses this summer, he hopes to see further upgrades in the quality as more horsemen learn about Canterbury’s reputation and rising purses.

“I’d say the meet was a success on pretty much all counts,” Sampson said. “We had a lot more horses and bigger fields, which was our No. 1 priority. And the quality was better, but we didn’t get as many new, good stables as we hoped for.

“We knew it would be hard to recruit a lot of new top stables, but we got a few, and we hope over time that will continue to pick up. We took a major step this year, and I think we’ll take another next year.”

Robertson won a Canterbury-record $1,340,429 in purses and 20 more races than Bernell Rhone and Mike Biehler, who tied for second with 31 victories each. Dean Butler withstood a late charge from Alex Canchari to win his fourth jockey title at Canterbury, with 67 victories to Canchari’s 65.

One of the new, high-quality stables — Midwest Thoroughbreds, which has led the nation in victories in each of the past three years — won the owners’ title with 28 victories. Heliskier was named Horse of the Year for the second consecutive season, joining Hoist Her Flag (1987, 1989) as Canterbury’s only two-time winner of the award.

The purse-enhancement agreement provided $5.3 million to the purse fund this season, pushing purses to nearly double what they were in 2011. Canterbury officials expected the extra money would lure more horses and that the larger fields would stimulate more wagering. Purses are scheduled to increase again next year, with $5.84 million coming from the tribal agreement.

Next week, Sampson will meet with horsemen to discuss how the 2014 season will look. He anticipates it will extend into mid-September again, while maintaining the Thursday through Sunday schedule and usual post times.

Robertson is thinking ahead, too. He said he has had calls from owners who have horses with big-name trainers at prominent tracks, who want to race at Canterbury next summer. That, he said, is another positive sign.

“They’re asking me to look for horses for them, to buy or claim for next year,” he said. “These people aren’t looking for $5,000 horses. They buy good horses. Over the next two or three years, I think the racing here will get better and better.”

  • related content

  • Chart: 2013 Canterbury Park champions

    Saturday September 14, 2013

    2013 championsHorse of the year: HeliskierQuarter horse of the year: Stone CottrellOlder horse: HeliskierOlder filly/mare: Second Street City3-year-old colt/gelding: Dorsett3-year-old...

  • Chart: Season numbers at Canterbury

    Saturday September 14, 2013

    THE SEASON’S NUMBERSCanterbury Park ended a 69-day racing season Saturday with increases in every category, including attendance, field size and...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 14 2nd Qtr 0:03
Arizona 3
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 84 FINAL
Miami 100
Detroit 105 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
LA Lakers 101 FINAL
Sacramento 108
Philadelphia 96 FINAL
Orlando 88
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Washington 92
Indiana 100 FINAL
Minnesota 96
New Orleans 101 FINAL
Oklahoma City 99
Colorado 2 FINAL(SO)
Detroit 1
Dallas 6 FINAL(SO)
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 3 FINAL(OT)
Boston 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Philadelphia 1 2nd Prd 19:39
Winnipeg 2
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
FIU 69 FINAL
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
ULM 50 FINAL
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
USC 75 FINAL
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 59 FINAL
Alabama 60
North Dakota St 52 FINAL
Kent State 53
San Jose St 53 FINAL
Washington St 82
Alcorn State 11 1st Half 2:08
Texas-El Paso 33
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
IUPUI 62
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
NC A&T 43 FINAL
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
NJIT 50 FINAL
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 68 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Arkansas 71
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Arizona State 88
TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Oregon 59
St Francis-PA 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 72
UNLV 71 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 74
UCLA 50 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 86
(10) Louisville 70 FINAL
(24) California 57
Howard 53 FINAL
Virginia 74
Miami-Ohio 42 FINAL
(21) Miss State 68
Illinois-Chicago 21 1st Half 4:49
Old Dominion 23

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

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

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close