Here are a couple of updates. The first is a press release issued by Canterbury on Monday, the second is a letter from Dr. Scott Rake, President of the Minnesota HBPA regarding the status of opening the racetrack. Track management acknowledges in the press release that it will not be possible for opening day to be pulled off on May 15 as scheduled. I believe the most likely scenario is an opening some time in June.
Again, because the Club has finite resources, we will be waiting to acquire a horse until the picture is clearer – we do not have $2500/$5000 for a month or more of no racing and straight training bills. All the entities involved in Minnesota racing will be doing all they can to run as full a meet as they can so hopefully we won’t lose too many days of racing. The cancellation of the Twin Cities Summer Jam should help in that respect, but we are still in a “wait and see” mode.
We’re all looking forward to be racing again sooner rather later but also need to be prudent with our resources so we can be racing when our season does start here. Please stay safe & stay healthy.
CANTERBURY PRESS RELEASE
Shakopee, Minn. — Canterbury Park racing officials along with the Minnesota Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, the organization which represents owners, trainers and jockeys working at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack, are continuing to formulate plans for a 2020 live racing season with a modified schedule. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the race meet was to begin May 15 and run 65 dates through Sept. 12.
“We recognize that live racing will not be possible on May 15 but continue to work with the Minnesota HBPA to determine the best possible summer racing schedule, “ Canterbury Park President and CEO Randy Sampson said.
Canterbury Park and the Minnesota HBPA intend to work closely with the Minnesota Racing Commission, the state body charged with regulating Minnesota’s horse racing industry which annually generates an economic impact in excess of $400 million and contributes more than 5,500 jobs to Minnesota’s economy, to ensure that proper protocols will be implemented to protect all workers when the horse stabling area opens. Guidelines provided by the CDC, the Minnesota Department of Health, the American Association of Equine Practitioners and recently updated guidance from the University of Minnesota Extension program designed to assist the Minnesota horse industry are being used in the initial preparations. Canterbury officials announced in March that the stabling area would open no sooner than May 1.
“We have horsemen at racetracks around the country that are currently training and racing and they are important resources during these very challenging times. We are using the best information available from all known resources,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “We consult daily with other racetracks, assembling best practices that have been successful for those currently operating to ensure we are providing the best possible care for all equines as well as those working with them.”
Uncertainty across the country has created a significant shortage of available stabling for America’s racehorses. Canterbury is the summer home for more than 1,500 horses and provides stabling and shelter free of charge to trainers and owners throughout the duration of its season.
“Canterbury Park and the Minnesota HBPA will do as much as we can to assist the horses and their caretakers during this difficult time but we need to do so in a smart and responsible manner for Minnesota and the local community.”
Offerman has extended the date for stall applications to Monday, April 13. He expects to have a revised Condition Book in May. More information is available at http://www.canterburypark.com .
On March 16, Canterbury Park officials announced the temporary suspension of activities including card casino, horse race simulcast, and special events operations at Canterbury Park in response to the pandemic. The company also announced its intention to pay all regularly scheduled employees for two weeks. On Wednesday, April 1 company officials announced the implementation of temporary unpaid furloughs impacting approximately 850 employees. The limited number of key personnel that remain are subject to salary reductions that will remain in effect until the company returns to normal operations. Sampson called the recent decisions made by the board of directors “the most difficult we have ever faced as a company.”
Subsequent to the company’s March 16 voluntary suspension of activities, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued Emergency Executive Order 20-04 and subsequently Emergency Executive Order 20-18 causing the closure of bars, restaurants and other public accommodations including Canterbury Park until May 1, 2020 at 5:00 p.m.
HBPA PRESIDENT LETTER TO HORSEMEN
Dear Friends of Minnesota Racing,
I don’t think there is any need to further detail this extraordinary time in the history of, literally, the world. It is unprecedented in the modern era and next to impossible to predict in the near-term future. But what we do know is that there is a light at the end of tunnel, even if we can’t know when that light will shine down upon us. To that end, you should know that I and the entire board of the Minnesota HBPA are completely focused to ensure the best possible outcome for the women and men who train our horses, who own our horses, who care for our horses, for all of us who cheer on and love our horses.
We can’t leapfrog science and act myopically in the short term by ignoring the reality of Covid-19. But what we can do is prepare for that inevitable day when racing comes roaring back in Shakopee. That will be one special day. To make this day a reality, I have been in constant contact with Canterbury Park CEO Randy Sampson and Vice President Andrew Offerman, State Veterinarian Dr. Lynn Hovda and various members of the Minnesota Racing Commission. Rest assured, this is an exceptional group of individuals with whom we’ve been able to determine numerous key issues and contingencies going forward. As we don’t know what will materialize in the future, we do have plans in place for whatever does.
Lastly, I ask for your patience and for your understanding. Please know that I and the Minnesota HBPA will be totally transparent. After all, we’re all in this together. So I ask you to resist the temptation to believe whatever rumors you may be hearing. Simply put, we at the Minnesota HBPA, Canterbury Park and the Minnesota Racing Commission are working together and can’t wait until we have a set date for when our great sport resumes at Canterbury Park. Trust me, we will be the first to let you know. Until then, stay safe, remember all those great moments of the past at Canterbury Park and know there are so many more yet to come.
Dr. Scott Rake
President of the Minnesota HBPA