Canterbury Park’s horse racing season ending Thursday, betting handle soars to record level

After a delayed start and a shortened year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Canterbury Park’s horse racing season will end Thursday night.

The pandemic shortened the season from 65 days to 53 days and delayed the start of the season until June 10.

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Canterbury Park said it decided to abandon weekend racing and focus on a Monday through Thursday schedule for the season where there would be less competition nationally for the wagering dollar. While attendance was limited to 750 spectators each night, which is far below 2019’s average attendance of 6,592, the wagering handle soared.

Off-track betting restrictions limit Minnesota horse racing wagers during pandemic

Canterbury said 2020’s handle already surpassed 2019’s record $48 million, despite the shorter season and limited attendance, with $63.8 million bet during the first 51 days of the season and another $4 million to $5 million expected over the final two days. That’s thanks to bettors across the country wagering on Canterbury’s races, and comes despite a Minnesota law that restricts Minnesotans from making off-track bets on local races.

"It was crucial to the Minnesota horse racing and breeding industry that Canterbury Park conduct a meet in 2020," Vice President of Racing Andrew Offerman said. "The support and guidance of the Minnesota Racing Commission and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture was very helpful as we found a way to make racing a reality in the current environment. The horsemen have been very supportive throughout the summer and operated in a manner that kept all participants safe. The efforts of the Canterbury staff must also be acknowledged as they have put in long hours implementing our safety plans."