Canterbury Park hopes to resume live horse-racing next Thursday. After this weekend, the track will have lost 12 days of racing — roughly twenty percent of the entire season — and more than $3 million in revenues.
But Canterbury Park officials are relieved that a tentative budget agreement was reached prior to the weekend. That’s because many of the trainers and jockeys that make their living racing horses would have started to head off to other tracks if there was no sign of an end to the government shutdown.
“The governor’s announcement was very helpful because we were really, really right at the point where quite a few people said if nothing happens this weekend we’re going to have to pack up,” says Randy Sampson, president of Canterbury Park. “If this deal comes together we’re going to be okay for completing the meet.”
Canterbury Park receives not government funding, but relies on the Minnesota Racing Commission to oversee its races. That regulatory body was not deemed an essential government service by the courts.
The long-term financial picture for Canterbury Park remains bleak. To that end Sampson is still hoping that the track’s Racino proposal to allow slot machines could be part of the agenda during a special session. “We’re certainly going to continue to work to get a Racino vote as part of a special session,” Sampson says. “I can’t at all say what our chances of that are.”