07/20/2011 11:53AM

Canterbury Park to reopen Thursday after governor signs budget bill

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SHAKOPEE, Minn. – Racing will finally return to Minnesota on Thursday after Canterbury Park lost 12 race cards of its 62-date season to a state government shutdown over a budget dispute.

“We are relieved that this shutdown has come to an end. It has caused undue hardship for far too many,” Canterbury president Randy Sampson said. “I look forward to welcoming back our employees, loyal customers, and horsemen, who will once again be able to compete for purses.”

At 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed 12 budget bills into law, ending a 20-day state shutdown and paving the way for Canterbury Park and Running Aces Harness Park to reopen. Minnesota state law requires a 24-hour period before any monies can be appropriated and the Minnesota Racing Commission can get back to work. Canterbury officials have announced that the card casino will open at 10 a.m. Thursday, simulcasting will begin at 11 a.m., and the first live card in three weeks will begin at 7 p.m.

Though it appeared earlier this week that a deal would not be reached in time to keep many Minnesota horsemen from shipping elsewhere, the depth of Thursday’s card shows that virtually all stables have remained. Of Thursday’s eight Thoroughbred races, half have full fields of 12 and the card boasts an average field size of 10.

Canterbury Park is thanking patrons for their patience by offering free admission Thursday in addition to the weekly Thursday “Buck Night” specials of dollar programs, hot dogs, and soda.