Reporting Holly Wagner
SHAKOPEE, Minn. (WCCO) – The race is off at Canterbury Park for the time being, and horse owners and jockeys are not sure how long they can hold out if the state government continues its shutdown.
Though the park generates its own revenue — to the tune of about $1 million a week — the State Racing Commission, who oversees racing there, were put out of commission by the shutdown.
The park’s managers are going to file paperwork to appeal the judge’s ruling that effectively put Canterbury in the dark.
Of the 1,133 employees at the horse racing facilities, about 1,000 were effectively laid off when Minnesota shut down on July 1.
Now owners and employees are afraid that, depending on how long the state remains shut down, the hiatus could wipe out horse racing industry in Minnesota.
“The long term impact is if these horsemen don’t have confidence that they can race here that there’s a future here, if they pack up and leave it could be the end of the meet, and it could make it very difficult in future years to get people back here to race,” said Canterbury CEO Randy Samson.
Some horse owners and jockeys say they’ve already started looking around for racing opportunities in other states. The owners of Canterbury are currently offering a small compensation to some as an incentive not to leave.
But some WCCO-TV spoke with said they estimate a month is about the maximum they would be able to cope with before being forced to find work elsewhere.
Canterbury Park is a seasonal business, and the Minnesota government shutdown couldn’t have happened at a worse time for them.
Last year, the park generated $1.3 in revenue on the July 4th weekend.
“I just can’t believe this is happening,” said jockey Scott Stevens, who has been racing horses at Canterbury since 1989. “They’re self financed. All they do is generate money for the state and for them to do this and cost everybody their job, I don’t understand.”