SHAKOPEE, Minn. (WCCO) – So far eight of the 62 scheduled days of racing at Canterbury Park have been canceled due to the state shutdown.
More than 1,000 employees have been placed on unpaid leave and more than 1,600 other individuals who are licensed to participate in racing at the park have been denied the opportunity to do so.
Today local officials, horse breeders, jockeys, workers and race fans gathered at Canterbury Park to voice their frustrations.
“Every time I ride a horse in the races, I look at the owner and the trainer and I say, ‘I’ll see ya in the winners’ circle.’ That is something I haven’t been able to say for quite a while,” said jockey Paul Nolan, a Bloomington resident who moved here because he loves the park and community at Canterbury. “I really hope the people in St. Paul will get their heads together, get this sorted out, so I say those words out loud again.”
Hundreds met at the racetrack today wearing T-shirts in support of a racino and holding up signs with sayings like “I’m not ready 2 retire,” “Quit horsin’ around,” “Help us feed our horses” and “I love my job.”
“This is not a sport of kings in Minnesota” said thoroughbred breeder Jeff Hilger of Stillwater. “This is a sport of people that want to have fun. If they break even they’re happy, if they make a few bucks, that’s great.”
The horse industry has an estimated $1 billion economic value in Minnesota. Not being able to race is quickly becoming a crisis for the industry and once owners and trainers leave, there’s no guarantee that they will return.
State Senator Claire A. Robling of Jordan says they’re going to do whatever they can to try and save this racing season.