Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Canterbury Park's Meet Starts With a Bang

Canterbury Park - the Shakopee, MN racetrack that lowered takeout's this season - had a very nice weekend opener. Friday through Sunday, handle was up over 30%, year over year.

Although the weather cooperated, and on-track wagering was up, it's still (by any measure) a super result for the track who had hoped to generate some buzz with simulcast players. Wagering outside the state via ADW and other racetracks was up 34%.

Canterbury debuted an HD signal (to a couple complaints on social media, mainly regarding the lack of visibility of the odds in full fields), and odds that update every ten seconds, giving players a pretty good experience for a smaller racetrack. They also flew in Katie Gensler to help with the two new candidates for paddock analyst, and the pre-game show had a professional feel.

The track catered to both its on-track and off-track customers by doing the right thing with the takeout decrease -- they promoted it. It's messaging is on the starting gate, the track announcer mentions it, and during the pre-game show the analysts talked about and explained that lower takeout means their customers' tickets pay more. "When you win, you win more" is a strong message to patrons. 

They seemed to push all the right buttons to set the table for a decent meet. 

Canterbury, as many of us have learned, is in a unique position as a racetrack. While most tracks earn the vast majority of their wagering dollars from off-track sources, Canterbury has an amazingly strong on-track business; upwards of half of some evenings total wagering comes from people on track. Although many of these bettors are younger and per capita wagering is low -- they have mainly come for other activities and promotions -- it does again set the table for growth. If even a handful of these newbies get that if this new 18% trifecta takeout (with some work) can be beatable, it's again very strong messaging.

While we as bettors can enjoy the perks of better takeout, it's also those of us who are fans and horse owners to be quite excited for the meet itself. Also not left out are the trainers.

Trainer Robert Diordino said things at Canterbury are different, “At a lot of tracks, you feel like you’re walking into an empty bingo hall,” said Robertino Diodoro, Canterbury’s leading trainer last year. “It doesn’t feel like you’re even at a racetrack any more.”

Donna Keen who sent a string to Canterbury last season loved the family vibe and people in the stands, “It's unbelievable. I love seeing the families here and the young people..."

For most of us not at the track, Canterbury's Friday evening races are at 6:30CT (there will be Thursday night racing at some point), and racing continues this weekend with a special Monday matinee for holiday weekend at 12:45CT.

For Canterbury Park on social media during the races, Candice Hare will be handicapping @chare889 as the national handicapping correspondent,  Brian Arrigoni is the on-track paddock analyst @MrB_CBanalyst, and there are others playing on social media with the hashtag #playcanterbury

This article was reprinted with permission.

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