SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Horse racing can be one of the most exciting spectacles in sports, but at Canterbury Park that excitement level has never been higher.
"We expect it to be the biggest year but we expect to keep growing," said John Groen, Canterbury's marketing director.
With days to go before the first race of the year, all you have to do is take a trip to the stables and see for yourself.
There are 1600 stalls on the race track property, for the first time since 1991 they are all full with a thousand more on a waiting list.
And more horse owners and racing companies are heading to Canterbury.
Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc, which had the most racing victories in the country last year, decided to keep some of its horses at Canterbury Park this year rather than ship them in for races.
"The one thing that attracted it to us was the money getting better. That's what it boils down to," said Cory Jensen, assistant trainer for Midwest Thoroughbreds Inc.
Jensen is talking about the purse money, which has increased dramatically after a 10 year $75-million marketing deal with Canterbury Park and Mystic Lake Casino, which the two signed last year.
"Stables are full, horses are going to be here, it means more exciting and competitive racing for the fans," said Groen.
But the increase in money and excitement goes far beyond the track in Shakopee.
Dean Benson runs Wood-Mere Farms in Webster where race horses come to retire and breed more horses. About a year ago they were close to closing up shop.
But now more owners are choosing to breed their horses in Minnesota. Registration of mares or female horses in the state has increased about 77-percent in a year, according to state numbers. That means there will be more Minnesota horses racing in the state, which was near extinction says Benson just a year ago.
Benson, his wife and daughter who run their farm are very busy.
"We've picked up new customers, we picked up new customers from Kentucky, Iowa, Nebraska, and Oklahoma and these are people who have never done business with us before," said Benson.
All thanks, he believes to the deal between Minnesota's largest casino and race track.
"On a scale to one to 10, it's about a 12. It gave the whole industry such a boost in the arm," he said.
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