The Night Is Young

By Noah Joseph

In the world of racing, one of the most rapidly rising promotions and events is night racing. The thought of great racing action, and a great time at the track, under the stars is enough to convince the mind to go.

Back in the days of Canterbury Downs, night racing wasn’t a concept other than the 1986 harness meet. Originally, the inaugural season, and seasons afterwards conducted cards that began in the afternoon and finished up in the dark, so it wasn’t officially night racing. In 1989, Canterbury held its first ever nighttime thoroughbred card with a first post of 8:00 PM. It was literally an overnight success. The attendance was greater than some of the daytime cards. It became so popular, that its two featured races for Minnesota bred three-year-olds; the Minnesota Breeders’ Oaks and Minnesota Breeders’ Derby were moved to nighttime. The Oaks was won by Canterbury Hall of Famer Northbound Pride and the Derby by A Nice Lark. Even the final day of the 1989 season was moved to the night, with the last race going off after midnight.

When Canterbury Park reopened in 1995, night racing was was back and it returned to its former glory. Today, night racing crowds average between 4,000 to 9,000 fans whether it be a Thursday Night Buck Night, a Friday Edition of Minnesota’s Best Happy Hour, or the Mystic Lake Derby special Saturday, night racing has been a success, and it should continue to grow in popularity and attendance for years to come.

Just four racing programs remain for the 2017 season. This Friday action begins at 6:30pm and Saturday at 12:45pm. On Sept. 15 racing begins at 5pm and the final day of live racing is Sept. 16 with a 12:45 first post.



  1. Marian Miller says:

    Always sad to be at the end of the season.

  2. Steven Ulen says:

    Bring night racing full time next season. Thurs, Fri and Sat night racing. And keep Sunday for family days in the afternoon. Night racing the handle and pools are so much larger to bet into that it’s better for the horse players. Way less competition across the country at night.

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