‘It’s Like Getting The Family Back Together’: Canterbury Park Marks 1st Horse Races Of The Season

SHAKOPEE, Minn. (WCCO) — A sure sign of spring has arrived.

The first horse races of the season are Wednesday evening at Canterbury Park in Shakopee.

“We can’t wait for May to arrive because it’s like a family getting back together,” said Jeff Maday with Canterbury Park.

The horses ran at 5 p.m., but the day at the track begins at 4:30 a.m. when the stables open and they first get fed.

Then there’s training at 6 a.m. Each horse trains differently, similar to athletes. Some gallop and some are hand-walked.

A lot of work goes in at Canterbury too to prepare for the races, including getting the track ready.

With the early hours and few days off, Maday says people who work in horse racing do it as a labor of love.

“When a horse you work with every day gets to the racetrack and then gets to the winner’s circle, there’s nothing like that feeling,” he said.

Maday says there are individual horses worth coming out to see.

“A lot of horses this summer [are] making their first ever career start,” he said. “You might see that spark where they’re just faster than the rest of their age group. Those are the ones that go on to be stars.”

The amount of money wagered on the races is called the betting handle. Maday expects the handle Wednesday to be about $1 million.