Canterbury Park had to adapt to new circumstances last winter, when the Shakopee racetrack and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community failed to renew their purse-enhancement agreement. The end of that 12-year deal left Canterbury with less purse money for this season, leading to a later start date, fewer racing days and the elimination of some stakes races. Despite the changes, Saturday's season opener will have a familiar feel, with many of Canterbury's favorite horses, jockeys and trainers back on track.
The season: 54 days, through Sept. 16. Racing on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, with Thursdays added to the schedule from July 13-Aug. 17. Special Monday cards will be held Memorial Day, July 3 and Labor Day.
Post times: 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday; 1 p.m. on Sunday, Memorial Day and Labor Day. Special 4 p.m. post time on July 3 and Sept. 9, 13 and 16.
Admission: Saturdays and Sundays, $10 adults/$7 youth ages 6-17; Wednesdays, $5. Children 5 and under are admitted free. There is a $2 discount for tickets purchased online. Reserved tables in the clubhouse and seating in trackside cabanas are available for an additional charge; reserve at canterburypark.com or by calling 952-445-7224.
Opening weekend: The season kicks off with Saturday's nine-race thoroughbred card, featuring the 10,000 Lakes Stakes and the Lady Slipper Stakes for Minnesota-breds. Each of those six-furlong races offers a purse of $50,000 and has attracted some of Canterbury's best and most popular horses.
The Lady Slipper includes Canterbury champions Ready to Runaway, Clickbait and It's Her Time, but the 7-5 morning-line favorite is Charlie's Penny, winner of the $100,000 Minnesota Distaff Sprint last September. Ready to Runaway, whose $533,400 in Canterbury Park earnings is second-most in track history, is the 4-1 second choice.
The 10,000 Lakes is headlined by even-money favorite Doctor Oscar, Canterbury's champion sprinter in 2022; Hot Shot Kid, the track's 2019 horse of the year; and Thealligatorhunter, last season's older horse of the year. A victory by Hot Shot Kid would give him more than $700,000 in career earnings, making him the richest Minnesota-bred in history.
Eight races will be run on Sunday and nine on Monday.
Season highlights: Canterbury has condensed its stakes schedule, packing 24 thoroughbred stakes worth $1.65 million into six racing days. The Northern Stars Racing Festival (June 21) has six of those, including the $100,000 Canterbury Derby and the $75,000 Lady Canterbury. The $100,000 Minnesota Derby and $100,000 Minnesota Oaks (Aug. 12) take center stage on a card with four stakes for state-bred horses. The annual Festival of Champions (Sept. 9) is the big day for Minnesota-breds, with six stakes worth a total of $500,000.
Dog days: Canterbury is bringing back its popular races for multiple dog breeds. This season features English bulldogs (June 11), basset hounds (June 25), corgis (July 30) and dachshunds (Aug. 13). Top dogs from each breed will face off for the "Best in Show" championship Sept. 3.