12/18/2014 1:04PM

Canterbury offers 24 stakes for 70-day 2015 season

Coady Photography
Canterbury Park will host 24 stakes races worth $1.8 million in 2015.

SHAKOPEE, Minn - The 2015 Canterbury Park 70-day race meet will be the longest since the racetrack reopened in 1995 as Canterbury Park, and reflects the impact of a 2012 cooperative marketing and purse enhancement agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, owners and operators of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, that adds $75 million to horsemen purses over 10 years.

A record $13.1 million in purses were paid in 2014 and racetrack management estimates that purses will increase 5 percent in 2015.

“The interest and enthusiasm in racing at Canterbury Park continues to grow,” said Eric Halstrom vice president of racing operations. “Additional days send a positive message to horsemen across the country that horse racing in Minnesota is thriving and that Canterbury Park is the place to be.”

Canterbury will offer 24 stakes worth a collective $1.8 million, the same as in 2014.

Highlights of the 2015 race meet include the 22nd Minnesota Festival of Champions, a day of racing reserved for horses bred in the state, Sunday, Sept. 6 with $400,000 in purse money, and the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, the largest single-race purse on the stakes schedule, Sunday, Aug. 23.

The Minnesota Derby and Minnesota Oaks, both scheduled for Aug. 8, will offer $80,000 purses, the largest for these restricted Minnesota-bred races since the 1980s.

Racing on Thursdays and Fridays will begin at 6:30 p.m. Central and weekend and holiday racing at 12:45 p.m. with the exception of Saturdays in August, with first post of 6:30 p.m.

At its November meeting, the Minnesota Racing Commission approved Canterbury’s plans for a $1 million renovation of the south portion of the grandstand’s clubhouse level. Improvements will allow for additional year-round group sales opportunities for the company.

“Remodeling the outdated clubhouse allows us to better meet the expectations of a competitive group events market,” president Randy Sampson said. “This will be a great improvement, offering a first-class entertainment experience for our guests while generating revenue for the company and creating jobs in the community.”

Canterbury Park recently opened its $2.5 million, 30,000 square foot Expo Center, making it the fourth largest exhibit space in the Twin Cities.