Minnesotans prep to watch Kentucky Derby horses with connections to the state

It’s going to be a busy weekend at Canterbury Park as people stop by to watch the Kentucky Derby.

Minnesota will be well represented at Churchill Downs as three horses have Minnesota owners.            

Staff at Canterbury Park say the Derby is a great way to invite in new customers. But lately, it’s been quiet on Derby Day.

“Last year we had capacity restrictions, the year before that we were shut down,” said Jeff Maday, spokesperson for Canterbury Park.

But this year, with an expected crowd of more than 10,000 at Canterbury Park, the excitement is back.

“It’s that one day in horse racing where the most casual fan comes out, it’s like going to church on Easter,” Maday said.

While live racing starts later this month, on Saturday you’ll find live music, a fashion show, plenty of screens to watch the races and of course, those mint julips.

“We call this Minnesota’s largest Derby party,” Maday said.

Adding to the excitement at Canterbury is the fact that folks can cheer on three horses with a Minnesota connection.

“You can’t even express what it’s all about,” said Barry Butzow, owner of Zozos.

Barry Butzow and his wife Joni are from Eden Prairie and own Zozos, one of the horses racing in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

“It’s a thrilling thing that brings tears to your eyes when you’re out there. When they start playing ‘My Old Kentucky Home,’ if you don’t cry you don’t have a heart, it’s amazing,” Butzow said.

He says Canterbury is where his love for horse racing started.

“Myself and a bunch of friends of mine, we all decided one day that Canterbury is opening a brand new race track, it looks like the new thing to do,” Butzow said.

Joining Zozos is Derby favorite Zandon, owned by Jeff Drown of Clearwater, Minnesota. Plus Prior Lake’s Pete Mattson has a small ownership in the horse Mo Donegal.

“Being Minnesotans, anything that has to do with Minnesota we can gravitate to,” Maday said.

Whether you’re watching from Canterbury Park or with 60 friends and family members at Churchill Downs like Barry, anything can happen in the most exciting two minutes in sports.

“Just the fact that you’re in there you have a shot,” Butzow said.