Canterbury Park racing officials announced a stake and overnight handicap schedule spread across the 54-day season, offering opportunities for open-company and Minnesota-bred thoroughbreds to race on both turf and dirt at various distances. Twenty-five stakes and handicaps will be conducted with purses totaling $1.24 million during the meet that runs May 18 through Sept. 28.
“We are offering a wide variety of stakes and overnight handicaps, spaced throughout the season in a way that a horse can, if a trainer chooses, run on different surfaces at different distances every few weeks and compete for our biggest purses,” stakes coordinator Amber Carlisle said.
Many of the meet’s richest races are grouped together on featured Saturday nights. The Northern Stars Turf Festival, Saturday, June 22, includes five open-company turf stakes and handicaps: the $50,000 Lady Canterbury, the $50,000 Brooks Fields Mile, the $50,000 Canterbury Derby, the $40,000 Dark Star Turf Sprint and the $40,000 Curtis Sampson Oaks. The Northern Stars Turf Festival has produced the largest single-day wagering handle total the past two years. A track record $4,737,428 wagered in 2022.
“Clustering our best races on select nights has been a successful strategy both off and on track,” Carlisle said. “The most casual of racing fans focus on those nights and our out-of-state handle always benefits with the attractive wagering opportunities that are a result of large and competitive fields.”
The Minnesota Derby and Minnesota Oaks, both restricted to 3-year-olds bred in the state, will offer purses of $75,000 and will be contested Saturday, Aug. 10, Made in MN Night, along with the Wally’s Choice and Glitter Star, both $40,000 handicaps. The 31st Minnesota Festival of Champions, a program of six stakes races restricted to horses bred in the state, will be held Saturday, Aug. 31.
New to the schedule is the $40,000 Mr. Dale Filly and Mare Turf Sprint Handicap named in honor of Dale Schenian, a founder of Canterbury Park, who died in 2023. The five-furlong race will be run Saturday, July 13 along with four additional handicaps as part of Hall of Fame Night.
This will be the 30th consecutive season of horse racing at Canterbury Park. Originally named Canterbury Downs, the track opened in 1985 but closed following the 1992 season. The property was purchased in 1994 by current CEO Randy Sampson along with his father, the late Curtis Sampson, and Schenian. They took the company public shortly after. Live racing returned to Minnesota in 1995.
The complete stake and handicap schedule is available via this link: https://canterburypark.egnyte.com/dl/ietnQ7objY .
(info and photo courtesy of Canterbury Park)