12/15/2016 7:11PM

Canterbury Park gets approval for 67-day meet in 2017


The Minnesota Racing Commission on Thursday approved Canterbury Park’s request for a 67-day race meeting during 2017.

The Twin Cities-area track’s meet will start May 5 and end Sept. 12. This year’s 69-day meet was conducted between May 20 and Sept. 17.

Canterbury lowered its takeout rate during 2016 in an effort to boost simulcast market share, dropping blended takeout from 20.4 percent to 16.5 percent, the lowest rate in the United States. Gross and net handle for the season did rise but at a rate three or four times lower than what track officials had hoped.

Canterbury is “still evaluating the takeout situation” for 2017, spokesman Jeff Maday said in an e-mail Thursday.

Canterbury, a publicly held company, also has restructured its corporate management team since the 2016 meet, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Eric Halstrom, vice president of racing, no longer is employed by Canterbury, nor is chief financial officer David Hansen. Randy Sampson, Canterbury’s chief executive, has assumed the positions of principal financial officer and principal accounting officer. The release said Sampson has taken on those positions with no additional compensation.

Canterbury races night cards starting at 6:30 Central on Thursday and Friday, and weekend and holiday racing with a first post of 12:45. The track has bumped back the beginning of its meet to sweep up the Kentucky Derby card, a release said, and to try to better accommodate horsemen shipping in from other regional venues.

Because July 4 falls on a Tuesday next year, Canterbury plans to run six straight cards, from June 29 through July 4, before going dark for one week.

Canterbury runs a mixed Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse meeting until late in the summer, after which cards are Thoroughbred only.