With horses arriving at Canterbury Park, people are asking questions about when there could be live racing in Shakopee. Here are the answers to some of your questions.
Q: Why isn’t it considered a “no-brainer’’ to start racing without spectators? --@MeganDailey6
A: With the state under a stay-at-home order, Canterbury had to convince government officials that it could operate safely. Even if no spectators are allowed, people and horses from other states will be moving into the barns and dormitories. In areas such as the jockeys’ room and the starting gate, folks work in close proximity to one another. Canterbury had to submit a detailed plan to limit the spread of the virus before it was allowed to open. Bear in mind, too, that some tracks might not find it financially viable to race without spectators. No fans on the grounds will mean a huge drop in important revenue sources such as admission fees, concession sales and on-track live wagering.
Q: Why can’t I bet on the horses if I can’t attend? @GovTimWalz this has to be fixed! –@MKE2MNHKY
A: The prospect of allowing Minnesotans to bet on Canterbury races online or by phone via advance deposit wagering (ADW) appears to be dead. Legally, state residents can only wager via ADW on out-of-state races. Since it’s likely that few or no spectators will be allowed at the track this summer, a bill to change that temporarily was introduced in the state legislature, so Minnesotans with no other way to bet Canterbury could do so online or by phone. But co-author Rep. Brad Tabke said that part of the bill was removed because “we could not get to an agreement with everyone.’’ John McCarthy of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association said his group considers the proposal an expansion of gambling, which it opposes. MIGA’s objection likely was the big hurdle.
Q: What’s the status of the purse money for the upcoming meet? --@Austinwaynemor1
A: Before the pandemic hit, Canterbury estimated it would pay purses of about $14 million over a 65-day season, with $7.28 million coming from the purse-enhancement agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Track officials currently are figuring out how many days to run and what kind of purses they can afford.
The new schedule could be around 50 days, with a slimmed-down stakes schedule. Andrew Offerman, Canterbury’s VP of racing operations, said Monday that track and tribal officials currently are discussing what the tribe’s contribution will look like. The amount of purse funds generated by the card club and simulcasting will definitely take a hit, since the card room and on-track simulcasting have been shut down since March 16. An announcement could come later this week about the schedule and purses.
Q: Will there be a stakes race named in memory of Jim Wells? --@PLTJET1964
A: Canterbury media relations manager Jeff Maday doesn’t expect that will happen this year, since the reduction in available purse money means some existing stakes races probably will be canceled. I can promise you that Jim will be fondly remembered and deeply missed in the press box every day. It won’t be the same without him. (For those of you unfamiliar with Jim, he was a longtime sports reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press who wrote a blog for Canterbury after retirement. He died unexpectedly last October.)
Q: I have seen where they suspect dogs, cats, mink and even tigers caught COVID-19 from people. Do they have concern about horses? --@Jnkristin1
A: State veterinarian Dr. Lynn Hovda, who oversees the horse population at Canterbury, said horses are not infected by the same kind of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in humans. According to Florida’s Palm Beach Equine Clinic, equine enteric coronavirus—which causes gastrointestinal illness—is a distinctly different virus, and there is no evidence horses can contract COVID-19 or spread it to humans or other animals.