Turf vs. Dirt at Canterbury Park Extreme Day

Events / Travel

Battle of the Surfaces at Canterbury Park. (Photo courtesy of Canterbury Park)

Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn. has been running a small summer race meet since 1985. They’ve been known to be inventive in their quest to bring in new customers - from adding a poker room to running the annual Claiming Crown series for claimer-level horses.

This year Canterbury Park brought back a recent addition to their summer lineup: Extreme Race Day.

This past Saturday Canterbury held one of the most unusual cards of racing in history. Between regular thoroughbred horse racing, fans were able to witness a zebra race, a camel race, and an ostrich race - all with jockeys on board!

They also held a race they dubbed the “Battle of the Surfaces.” A field of 20 horses competed at the same time on two different surfaces - eight on the dirt at one mile and 12 on the turf at 1 1/16 miles. The different distance was due to track factors and the class of the horses competing on the different surfaces.

The winner, 7-1 Joshua’s Journey, was a dirt horse, of course. The next five finishers were also on the dirt. The first turf horse to finish ran seventh. Track officials were unhappy with the lopsided dirt victory so they plan to tinker with the race details for next year.


Video courtesy of Canterbury Park

One thing Canterbury can boast, however, is that they held the only 20 horse field this year, since Hoppertunity scratched from the Kentucky Derby to make that field 19!

Ostrich racing is unusal in the United States today, but it was once a much more common occurence at race tracks as a novelty event between races. It is still popular in South Africa these days. An ostrich will allow humans to saddle them and ride them with a bit, however they are much more difficult to control than horses as I’m sure you can imagine. Watch how in this year’s running, two birds lose their riders right out of the gate and a third mid-race: 

Video courtesy of Canterbury Park

The announcer points out that one bird crossed over and there should have been an inquiry. There wasn’t. Guess there’s no justice for ostrichplayers, either.

Head over to the Canterbury Park YouTube channel to see replays of all the extreme races of the day.

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