Bid to Save Canterbury Park

Many of the workers at Canterbury Park have been working at the track for most of their lives and horse owners have been supporting the track faithfully for many years. As with most horse racing facilities, Canterbury Park had to pay for the costs to regulate the track, which it did; but even in spite of this a court ruling was handed down forcing the state agency, the Minnesota Racing Commission, to shut down both Canterbury Park and Running Aces. Thousands now sit without jobs, but they are fighting back with all they have.

On Wednesday, 13 July 2011, the Canterbury Park racecourse was alive with action, not horse racing action, but protest action, after the shut down that took place two weeks ago. Course worker Joe Palma has been with the Canterbury Park racecourse for thirty years, and now finds his life hanging in the balance. And it was not only racecourse workers such as Palma who were protesting the closing of the racecourse, but horse owners, trainers and jockeys joined forces to highlight the seriousness of the closing of the racecourse. Even a few well groomed horses were amongst the protesters with banners such as "Let Me Run" draped over them. Posters such as "My Horse Needs a Job" put owners in the spotlight, as when horses run, they are inevitably paying their own way. Owners such as Rosemary Higgins commented that she could move to another state, but she would prefer to keep her horses where they are, and race in the state that is home to her.

Head of the Minnesota Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association branch, Tom Metzen, raised his concerns, saying that trainers with up to twenty horses were persuaded to come to Minnesota to race instead of Churchill Downs, as the fees they pay to keep their horses at the track assists the racing industry’s economy, they might move their horses and not come back. He commented that the decision was devastating.

Jockey Paul Nolan was also amongst the protesters, saying that his entire life is in Minnesota and he prefers to race here, instead of moving away to other states to find a mount to race. Some legislators have also climbed on board to try and save Canterbury Park, with Mike Beard and Senator Claire Robling addressing the protesting crowds and acknowledging the impact the closure has had on thousands of lives, and that the racing industry is vital to the Minnesota economy. It is hoped that their voices will be heard and that the Canterbury Park racecourse can be saved from permanent closure, giving people their jobs back and continuing the legacy of Canterbury Park.

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