Canterbury Park racing officials announced Feb. 9 that 27 stakes races with purses totaling $2,060,000 will be run during the 65-day 2021 race meet that begins May 18.
The richest of the stakes is the $150,000 Mystic Lake Derby at one mile on the turf June 23. That’s part of the six-stake Mystic Lake Northern Stars Turf Festival.
Again in 2021, each of the six stakes comprising the Sept. 8 Minnesota Festival of Champions will offer $100,000 purses. All but two of the meet’s stakes will be run on Wednesday evenings when first post starts at 5 p.m.
The Northern Stars Turf Festival includes four $100,000 turf races in addition to the Mystic Lake Derby. Also on that date are the Mystic Lake Mile, the Lady Canterbury Stakes, the Dark Star Turf Sprint, and the Curtis Sampson Oaks named in honor of the late Canterbury Park founder and Chairman who died in 2020.
The race previously was run as the Northbound Pride Oaks. The $60,000 MTA Stallion Auction Stakes rounds out the stakes offerings June 23.
Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman has scheduled preview days to offer racing opportunities leading up to the major stakes dates. The Northern Stars Turf Festival is previewed May 26 with three $50,000 turf stakes, the Honor the Hero Stakes, HBPA Distaff and Brooks Fields Stakes.
“Clustering stakes races to offer high quality racing on selected Wednesdays throughout the meet will continue to strengthen Canterbury’s national presence,” Offerman said.
Offerman used a similar strategy in 2020 when the track switched from traditional weekend racing that attracted large in-person crowds no longer possible during the COVID-19 pandemic to a weeknight schedule. Handle soared to a record $68 million for the 53-day meet, easily eclipsing the previous record of $48 million over 69 days in 2018.
Hall of Fame Day is July 14, offering Minnesota-breds $50,000 purses in four stakes.
The Ralph Strangis Stakes and Minnesota Turf Distaff are turf routes. Three-year-olds will sprint in the Victor S. Myers and Frances Genter, before stretching out in distance Aug.18 in the Minnesota Derby and Minnesota Oaks. Both those offer $100,000 and anchoring Made in Minnesota Day, which includes the $50,000 Wally’s Choice Stakes and Glitter Star Stakes.
Overnight purse levels, which saw slight decreases in 2020 due to impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, will return to or exceed the levels of 2019 depending on race condition.
Condition books and stall applications are available now at canterburypark.com/horseme. The race meet concludes Sept. 16.