The day after hundreds of racetrack employees, family members and public officials rallied in an attempt to get Minnesota's horse racing industry reopened, the judge ruling on continuing operations during the state government shutdown rejected their central argument.

Reconsidering her previous denial of the appeal by owners of the Canterbury Park and Running Aces tracks, Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin once again denied it in an order issued Thursday.

Unlike other organizations that have argued to Gearin that they perform a core function for the state, the tracks' attorneys have argued that the operations should be allowed to stay open, because the Minnesota Racing Commission, the government agency that regulates racing, is fully funded by Canterbury Running Aces.

However, Gearin found that the tracks rely on an appropriation from the Legislature that wasn't issued before the government shutdown began July 1. She wrote that the track owners' "creative argument" that racing and card-playing "can take place without there being a [Racing] Commission is, in the court's opinion not correct as this is a highly regulated industry."

Gearin wrote that she was willing to reconsider her original ruling "because of the importance of this issue to Minnesota's two horse racing tracks."

 

In Shakopee, where the Canterbury track and card club are one of the city's biggest employers, the track laid off 1,000 employees. About 600 employees have been laid off at the Running Aces track, which is near Forest Lake.