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.

Comments (7)
  1. Tea Pea says:


    It’s a great facility with great employees!

    Let’s remember these people when we finally get Gov Dayton to compromise with the GOP! Make a date to go out and visit the track!!!! SUPPORT THEM!

    Maybe even SUPPORT a RACINO HERE!

    Bottom line is let’s NOT forget the NON-State workers being affected by our Governor’s inability to compromise with the GOP!

    This is a revenue producing business for MN as well…so the longer they are shut down…The more MN loses out on monetarily!


  2. dream on says:

    This is so sickening. Canterbury is a great asset to our state and when it fails it’s going to be hard to find something that will replace it. Even if you don’t gamble it offers people a chance to see some hard working people run some beautiful horses. The fact that Canterbury pays the wages of the state employees and the state still shut them down is really too bad. I hope they can make it through this tough time!

  3. Bradley Johnson says:

    One more example of how Gov. Dayton’s unreasonable quest to punnish those who have made their own fortunes is hurting everyone in the state. If Dayton can pay his Chef to stay on as essential, why not the racing regulators that Canterbury has already paid for the year? Double Standards??? CRIMINAL IF YOU ASK ME!!!

  4. Get a says:

    Why are we not acting like the Wisconsin-ites when they had the big union uproar?? ENOUGH WITH THE MN NICE!!! We need to break down the walls of the capitol doors and sit there until these two sides quit acting like a bunch of cowardly babies and make an agreement!!!

  5. Michael says:

    You people are missing the entire purpose of the state government shutdown. What good is a government shutdown if it is not painful? Visible and necessary state functions must be closed so people will notice. If only, say, a bunch of middle managers were laid off, who would notice and who would care if the state shut down. But close rest areas, state parks, race tracks, and other useful and profitable areas supported by government, then people will notice and contact their legislators to get this situation resolved. Just keep in mind, the shutdown must be painful or who would care.

  6. Outofwork says:

    I don’t understand why the inspectors have to be there. It’s a private business. Too bad the state can’t be there. They should open anyway and tell the state to F itself!

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