07/01/2011 7:19AM

Canterbury Park cancels racing because of state budget shutdown

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SHAKOPEE, Minn. - As of midnight Thursday, Canterbury Park has ceased all racing, simulcasting, and card club activities due to the shutdown of the Minnesota state government. Gov. Mark Dayton and the state legislature were unable to come to agreement on a budget in time to keep the government functioning. As a result, the Minnesota Racing Commission shut down operations, so there would be no stewards, state veterinarians, or test lab available to run the track. Canterbury also was forced to discontinue simulcasting and card room operations.

A hearing is scheduled in Ramsey County Court at 9 a.m. Friday to hear arguments that the track should remain open despite the shutdown. The racing commission, the track argues, is an agency fully funded by its licensees and requires no money from the state to operate. Further, the track has paid MRC expenses for July in advance so there should be no impediment to operation.

“It’s going to be a wait and see situation all weekend,” said Canterbury president and CEO Randy Sampson. He added that if the petition is denied, the track will appeal.

A timely decision in favor of the track would salvage the racing card on Saturday, while an extended closure would endanger four stakes races, the popular Fourth of July weekend cards, and a fireworks display.