Canterbury Park announced Friday it will reduce purses by about 10% for this summer’s racing season, set to begin June 10. But if the Shakopee track can reopen its card club and on-track simulcasting, horses could be running for more money before the 52-day season ends.
With its season delayed and shortened by the pandemic, Canterbury unveiled a revised purse structure and stakes schedule. Purses will average about $200,000 per day, and the purse for the Mystic Lake Derby — Canterbury’s marquee race — has been slashed from $200,000 to $100,000. Some other stakes races have been eliminated.
Andrew Offerman, Canterbury’s vice president of racing operations, said purses were set at a level he is confident the track can afford. Canterbury will start the season with a smaller purse fund than usual, because two key funding sources — its card club and simulcasting — were shut down by the pandemic in mid-March. If card games, simulcast wagering or some form of on-track betting is allowed, that would reopen the flow of money into the purse fund.
Canterbury plans to run Mondays through Thursdays, with post times yet to be announced. Track officials expect spectators will be prohibited or limited, at least initially.
“This number is the bottom,” Offerman said of the revised daily purses. “If we’re able to resume other activities, there’s a possibility that purse money could improve. It’s just hard to know where some of those things stand.”
Canterbury planned to conduct a 65-day season starting May 15 before the pandemic shut down much of the state. Its new schedule, which runs through Sept. 16, must be approved by the Minnesota Racing Commission.
The purse proposal is contingent on finalizing an agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC), which contributes to the purse fund, and the approval of the track’s horsemen.
The SMSC’s original deal called for it to contribute $7.28 million to Canterbury’s purses, which were initially set for $225,000 per day. Offerman said that amount will be prorated to reflect the shorter season.
The stakes schedule caters to Minnesota-bred horses while preserving Canterbury’s highest-profile races. The Mystic Lake Derby will share a July 15 card with the Lady Canterbury and the Mystic Lake Mile, both of which saw purses cut from $100,000 to $75,000. All 16 stakes races for Minnesota-breds remain on the schedule.
The Minnesota Festival of Champions, an annual event for Minnesota-bred horses, will be run Sept. 7 with purses staying at $800,000. Two other major races for state-breds, the $100,000 Minnesota Derby and $100,000 Minnesota Oaks, also remain unchanged.
The quarter horse stakes schedule was not altered significantly and is highlighted by the $150,000 Northlands Futurity — now the track’s richest race — on Aug. 10.