Thanks to the Minnesota shutdown, there were no races at Canterbury Park over the Fourth of July. Lucky for us, training hours and the backside is still open.Â
No races meant no spectacular fireworks show with pizza delivered to all the barns and no picnics after long days of racing.
I spent the holiday weekend on the backside, and although the afternoons were a little depressing, the shutdown hasnâ€™t harmed us much, since we have younger horses that wonâ€™t be ready to run in a race until later this month. Still, itâ€™s hurting a lot of others there and across the state, as most already know.
The park closing is all over the Twin Cities-area news. However, most people donâ€™t understand why it is closed, including the politicians.
A friend and horse dentist at the track approached her representative over the weekend and broached the subject of Canterbury. She lives a half-hour away from the track, and her district is next to Shakopee.
However, when told of the hardship the shutdown has caused horsemen, she said, â€œWell, why canâ€™t they just run and Canterbury can pay the purse money later?â€
The representativeâ€™s negligence is appalling.
Horse racing is regulated by the state racing commission, which appoints veterinarians, stewards (the judges of races) and other officials who oversee the many components of racing. Horses must be checked out in the morning, during saddling and even at the gate before they run. After a race, all first- and second-place finishers are taken to the test barn to be tested for any performance-altering substances (which are illegal). The stewards act as judges, making sure there is no misconduct on the part of the jockeys and horses during the races. Stewards also handle any complaints that may come from the backside as well. Â
Purse money is generated by betting and by the horsemen themselves by breedersâ€™ funds. Minnesota will offer extra money when a horse born in Minnesota wins a race. The only state involvement in purse money is when Canterbury pays (very high) taxes and fees.
Sadly, Canterbury actually already paid its dues to have racing services of state officials through the end of July and has argued in court it should not be subject to the shutdown for that reason.
So, until a judge rules it can remain open like it did during the 2005 state shutdown, 1,100 employees of the park, such as custodians, vendors, college kids, betting attendants, etc., are out of work.
Canterburyâ€™s card club is also closed since it is regulated under the state gaming commission. Racing and the card club are not connected.
Like I said before, weâ€™re lucky since we donâ€™t need to race yet. Still, I canâ€™t help but feel for all the good people across the state of Minnesota who would have never expected how this shutdown would affect them.