07/05/2011 2:47PM

Canterbury hopeful court appeal leads to track's reopening


Attorneys for Canterbury Park spent Tuesday preparing paperwork for an appeal of a ruling handed down in Ramsey County District Court that denied the track’s request to remain open during a state shutdown.

The fate of Thursday’s card, the next scheduled day of live racing, remains up in the air and a decision may not be made until Thursday morning.

Attorneys for the track and horsemen have argued that their appropriation to the Minnesota Racing Commission, which oversees racing, is automatic and does not need to be passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. But in St. Paul, Judge Kathleen Gearin denied a request that Canterbury be included among the state’s “essential” state functions. Gearin’s findings were that the law requires an annual appropriations bill passed by the legislature for the Racing Commission to operate. The Racing Commission is a self-funded entity that receives its budget from license fees and up-front reimbursement of estimated expenses – which has already been paid for July.

There is concern that if the track remains closed and another weekend of racing is lost that trainers and owners will begin to look for other racing opportunities and leave Canterbury.

“With no chance for the 1,300 horses stabled on the backside to compete for purse money, the danger is that trainers will begin to take their stables from Minnesota and once they do, they will not return,” said Randy Sampson, Canterbury’s president and CEO.