Minnesota’s only thoroughbred racetrack begins its 29th season as Canterbury Park on Saturday with a 5 p.m. central first post. The 54-day season starts with three days of racing, Saturday through Memorial Day Monday. Racing on Sunday and Monday begins at 1:00 p.m. The Shakopee, Minn. racetrack originally opened in 1985 but closed after the 1992 season. The track reopened for live racing in 1995 under new leadership and has conducted a race meet of at least 51 days each summer since.

Twenty-six races, 10 on the turf course, will be run during the first three programs. A total of 212 horses were entered for an average field size of 8.15 per race.

“Racing Secretary Robert Junk, Amber Carlisle and the rest of the racing office team did a phenomenal job putting together our Memorial Weekend cards,” Senior Director of Racing Chris Merz said. “With average field size over eight and an emphasis on our turf course with 10 turf races, we have assembled great cards for our bettors and fans to enjoy. We look to build on this early momentum throughout the season.” Merz will be experiencing his first meet at Canterbury Park after serving as racing secretary at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.

Saturday’s nine-race card includes two $50,000 stakes races restricted to horses bred in Minnesota, both at six furlongs. The 10,000 Lakes Stakes has the smallest field of the weekend with just five horses entered but is not wanting for quality. Doctor Oscar, at even money on the morning line, is a deserving favorite based on strong performances this winter at Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn Park. Thealligatorhunter also raced at Tampa Bay Downs. He has won eight of 12 Canterbury starts including a dead-heat in this stake in 2022. Both are trained by Tim Padilla. Multiple stakes winner Hot Shot Kid, now nine years old, is 10 to 1 on the morning line. He won the 10,000 Lakes in 2019 and 2020. A win Saturday would make him the richest Minnesota bred racehorse in history. He is trained by Mac Robertson.

The female counterpart to the 10,000 Lakes is the Lady Slipper Stakes which attracted 10 entrants, eight of which are former stakes winners. Charlie’s Penny is the 7 to 5 morning line favorite and drew post position 10 with Lindey Wade to ride. “Give me that outside post every time,” trainer Joel Berndt said.

Ready to Runaway, trained by Robertson, won this race in 2020. Her $533,400 in purse earnings at Canterbury Park is the second most in track history. Robertson also entered Clickbait, the ‘21 and ’22 Lady Slipper winner and It’s Her Time, winner of last year’s Minnesota Oaks.

Robertson and Berndt tied for leading trainer in 2022. Each has entered 21 horses over the first three days of racing. Robertson is a Canterbury Hall of Fame member who has 15 training titles. Berndt won his second last season. Leading jockey in 2022 Harry Hernandez is listed on mounts in 24 of the opening weekend’s 26 races including six mounts for Robertson and four for Berndt.

The racing season runs through Sept. 16. Additional information can be found at canterburypark.com.

(info and photos courtesy of Canterbury Park)

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