09/14/2014 9:02AM

Canterbury closes out strong meet

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SHAKOPEE, Minn. – Canterbury Park concluded its 2014 racing season Saturday, and though handle was down slightly year over year, there were many indicators of a healthy race meet.

“The increase in the number of barns we had shipping in this season, the tremendous amount of claiming activity, and the record Minnesota Thoroughbred Association sale this year all point to a thriving and rebounding Thoroughbred industry,” said Eric Halstrom, vice president of racing operations. “We’ll look to build on this strong foundation heading into 2015.”

Total purses for the meet were up 5.4 percent over 2013 with the track paying out $13,120,706 over the 68-day season.

Field size, which was a decade-best 8.36 horses per race in 2013, remained steady with 2014 fields averaging 8.22 starters per race.

Claiming activity at the Shakopee oval was up sharply year over year, with the number of horses claimed nearly doubled from 2013, 165 compared to 65, with a total value of more than $1,000,000, an increase of 79.3 percent year over year.

While the track still enjoyed robust average attendance, averaging 6,419 fans per race day, on-track handle slipped 7.5 percent year over year. Out-of-state handle, however, remained strong, essentially flat after the giant 31.8 percent increase from 2012 to 2013. All-sources handle saw a dip of 2.5 percent from 2013 numbers.

Trainer and jockey championships were decided on the final day of the meet with trainer Robertino Diodoro winning six races on the final card to wrest the title from nine-time champion Mac Robertson.  Diodoro’s six wins ties Bernell Rhone for most on a Canterbury card, though Rhone’s was over six races, while Diodoro had two wins via a dead heat.

Ry Eikleberry took the riding title, edging Alex Canchari by a single race, 64-63. Defending champion Dean Butler was another win behind at 62.

DIVISIONAL TITLES

Horse of the year, 3 year old filly, top sprinter – Sky and Sea

Older horse – Bourbon County

3 year old colt/gelding – Speed is Life

Grass horse – Dear Fay

Older Filly/Mare – Talkin Bout

2-year old – Hold for More

Claimer of the meet – Terice

Quarter Horse – Dirt Road Queen