07/04/2011 3:16PM

Canterbury, Minnesota HBPA announce plan to give financial aid to horsemen


SHAKOPEE, Minn. – In an attempt to ease the financial hardship for horsemen affected by races canceled because of a state shutdown in Minnesota, Canterbury Park and the Minnesota Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association have agreed to a plan that will allow some purse money to flow to horsemen.

Speaking at a general membership meeting of the Minnesota HBPA on Monday, Randy Sampson, president and CEO of Canterbury Park, and Tom Metzen Sr., the HBPA president, announced details of the program.

“Horses affected by the cancelled dates will be eligible for payouts based upon the purse of the race,” Metzen explained. “Horses entered for cancelled non-stakes races that carried purses over $18,000 will be eligible for a $2,000 payment; races for purses between $10,000 and $18,000, a $1,000 payment; and races with purses under $10,000 would receive $500 payments. To be eligible the horse must make its next start at Canterbury Park after the track reopens.”

Rescheduled stakes races include the Minnesota HBPA Mile on July 10, and the Dean Kutz Derby and the Blair’s Cove Stakes on July 17.
Track personnel will also be passing out coupons for free meals in the track kitchen to backside employees.

Sampson added that the track will try and make up the lost races by adding racing days or one or two races to the remaining race cards.

Future cancellations will be made on a day-by-day basis with the fate of Thursday’s card to be decided late Wednesday afternoon or early Thursday morning.

Canterbury has lost four cards to the shutdown – Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday – which was caused by the inability of the Minnesota legislature to work out a budget agreement. The Minnesota Horse Racing Commission, which regulates the racing at Canterbury Park, is a government agency. Only essential government services are being allowed to operate.

Canterbury officials have argued that since the state racing commission is entirely funded by the racing industry, receives no money from the general fund, and has already received reimbursement for expected July expenses, the track should be allowed to continue to operate during the shutdown. On Saturday a judge, Kathleen Gearin, disagreed with this assessment and the track was forced to close. Sampson said the track intended to file an appeal on Tuesday.