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Canterbury Park’s 25th anniversary season concludes with Minnesota Festival of Champions on Sunday

August 27, 2010     E-mail this page to a friend!

Canterbury Park’s 62-day summer race season comes to a close on Sunday with the 17th renewal of the Minnesota Festival of Champions, a day of racing dedicated to horses bred in Minnesota. The final three days of live racing in 2010 begin tonight at 7:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday racing begins at 1:30 p.m. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Canterbury has offered free admission all summer.

Sunday’s Festival of Champions program includes 11 races, nine for Thoroughbreds and two for Quarter Horses, with purses exceeding $400,000. Entries were taken on Thursday with 83 Minnesota-bred horses expected to race.

With daily attendance averaging more than 5,700, Canterbury will break the average attendance record set in 2009. “Canterbury definitely faced challenges this season, but I am pleased with the continued fan support,” Canterbury President Randy Sampson said. “We again offered an exciting product at a reasonable price. Celebrating the racetrack’s history with free admission all season was the right thing to do. It allowed us to introduce this sport to many new people.”

Handle, the amount of money wagered on the races, will show a decline compared to last year. “The stagnant economy is a cause for concern for all businesses. We knew it would impact us.”

“We compete on many levels for the same demographic and the same entertainment dollar,” Sampson said. “All that being said, people came to the racetrack in record numbers. Maybe with fewer bucks in their pockets, but they still came. That is encouraging for horse racing.”