What’s the latest? What’s the latest? This is now the most asked question of me by both partners and friends. Everyone wants to know when racing is going to start again at Canterbury Park. The short – and sadly most correct – answer is “I don’t know.”
Today the track stated their case to stay open in front of Ramsey County District Court judge Kathleen Gearin. It was hoped that a decision would have been reached in time to save Saturday’s racing card. It wasn’t. At this point even if live racing continues to be an issue, you have to think that Canterbury would accept the reopening of the card club and/or simulcasting as some kind of step forward from a business perspective. To have to cease all revenue generating functions over the busiest weekend of the year is brutal for the business – not to mention shareholders. I don’t think that the decision needs to be all or nothing, however live racing is the jewel and without it summer is not the same.
Governor Dayton was quoted as saying that there will not be any meetings between his team and the Republican legislative leadership until after the holiday weekend. It would give both sides a cooling off period before discussions resume. This puts virtually the entire burden of Canterbury’s 2011 season in the hands – or the pen – of Judge Gearin. If she does not find for Canterbury (and Running Aces, the harness track in Columbus, MN) that the MN Racing Commission should stay open then the holiday weekend has passed us by and horsemen will be looking at the possibility of a second straight weekend without racing. Other owners have told me that their trainers are looking to ship out if there is no resolution by Tuesday. If there is enough of an exodus, there will be no 2011 season.
What’s our plan? We sit tight for now. I haven’t spoken to our trainer, Bernell Rhone, since the shutdown went into effect. I’m sure that he has some contingency plans but I know that his heart is in running at Canterbury. He has several very nice Minn breds in the barn that could do some damage in the state bred stakes races in the second half of the meet, if there is one.
The track will remain open for training – for now anyway – and that still leaves us the option of training here and shipping to Iowa or Chicago to race. Since Tabby just ran last Sunday, we’re in no hurry to get her back to the races, but there are plenty of folks that were coming into their race time right now that have a horse tuned up and no race to run in. You can’t keep an athlete tuned up like that forever with no outlet. And as I’ve mentioned in the past, how do you get some of the trainers back next year after a debacle like this?
I better send off to renew my Iowa license this weekend…