SHAKOPEE, Minn. (WCCO) — It’s just after sunrise and the exercise track is open. It’s where thoroughbreds are put through their normal paces, in what it is still uncertain racing season.
“What we’re able to do now is draw from racetracks running now or training now around the country, kind of the best practices,” Canterbury Park’s media relations manager Jeff Maday said.
Friday, May 15 should be opening night at Canterbury Park. Instead, a shortened season could begin June 10, without spectators. That’s contingent on approval of the Minnesota Racing Commission which needs to grant the park some flexibility in prior approved plans.
“We want to get racing going and take care of the horsemen, but we furloughed 850 employees that want to come back here. And we’re trying to find ways to make that happen,” Maday said.
For starters, anyone entering the stable area must have daily temperature scans and wear face masks. It’s a requirement for the track to safely reopen.
“Yes, there’s grumbling. Not everyone is thrilled and it’s not what you’re accustomed to,” Maday said.
And without spectators on hand, purses will be smaller, at least to begin the season. Races would be run Monday through Thursday.
“Our revenue is going to come from having players in other states betting on Canterbury’s races,” Maday said.
About 100 of the normal 1500 horses are now stabled and training to begin a shortened and far different season.
“We average 6,500 people and some days we’ll have 20,000 people. I love the fans, that’s the energy of racing,” Maday said.
Instead, all the energy will be in the horses. Provided the state allows starting gates to open in less than four weeks.