Now it’s getting serious. That’s not to say that the closure of Canterbury Park at the hands of the state due to the budget impasse that has shut down all state services including the racing commission hasn’t been serious, just that today things went from bad to worse.
On Friday morning Judge Kathleen Gearin heard arguments from a select number of petitioners, Canterbury Park and the Minnesota Zoo among them, outside of the Special Master process about why they should be allowed to remain open during the state closure. When no decision was forthcoming by mid-afternoon yesterday, track President and CEO Randy Sampson had no choice but to call off Saturday’s race card.
“Our horsemen need time to prepare their horses to race and the uncertainty of when the judge might rule has forced us to cancel a second day of racing at Canterbury Park,” Sampson said.
As Friday evening wore on with no decision, eyes and hope turned to Saturday – until the hours of Saturday starting drifting away without a ruling. Finally Gearin issued her ruling: motion for injunctive relief denied. Sampson promises an appeal but with Sunday and then the holiday that is unlikely to occur before the middle of next week. There is a very real fear that trainers and owners will start leaving the backside for the opportunity to race.
“With no chance for the 1,300 horses stabled on the backside to compete for purse money, the danger is that trainers will begin to take their stables from Minnesota and once they do, they will not return,” Sampson said. “This ruling puts the entire season in jeopardy. I appreciate the support and patience of the horsemen and our race fans. The state shutdown did not need to impact the racing industry and its employees."
Four stakes races, the Shot of Gold, Blair’s Cove, Dean Kutz Derby and the MN HBPA Mile all fell by the wayside. No determination has been made yet if they will be made up at a later date with the battle to make a “later date” a reality clearly taking precedence. It is not known how long the track can go on being closed before the entire season is in jeopardy, but what is clear is that date is sooner rather than later.