Canterbury Park has announced plans for a 54-day racing season next summer, running the same number of days as this year but spreading them out over a longer time frame.

The Shakopee racetrack submitted the proposal Thursday to the Minnesota Racing Commission (MRC), which must approve it. The season would run from May 18-Sept. 28, beginning one week earlier and ending two weeks later than last summer's schedule. Races would be held Thursdays and Saturdays at 5 p.m. and Sundays at 1 p.m., with four Wednesday cards and a one-week break in July.

Under the proposal, purses for non-stakes races would rise by an average of 10%. The MRC will discuss the plan at a meeting on Dec. 21.

Canterbury officials are seeking the right formula to satisfy horsemen and increase wagering. Daily purses declined 21% last summer, after the expiration of a 10-year deal with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community that had added more than $7 million per year to the purse fund.

With lower purses, fewer horses came to Canterbury. The smaller fields caused a major drop in out-of-state wagering, triggering a 42% downturn in average daily handle.

Canterbury officials hope the small increase for non-stakes purses, renovations to the stable area and other incentives will help attract more quality stables without causing financial strain.

"We've listened to requests of the Minnesota Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, which represents racehorse owners and trainers,'' Canterbury CEO Randy Sampson said. "[The result is] a longer season and higher overnight purses, and the extension of the season will allow for more racing opportunities.''