Canterbury Park, Shakopee, MN, May 18, 2007

There are so many good reasons to visit Canterbury Park, which you might have gathered from the fact that I've been there so many times. First and foremost, in my opinion it is the best run and customer-friendliest racetrack in America. No kidding. A big part of that from my standpoint is Player Relations Director (or whatever his title is these days) Jeff Maday, but it's clear the good attitude toward customers comes all the way down from Mr. Sampson. Del Mar and Emerald are close, but this place is the best.

Then there's the concessions - man! Best selection of beers and foods of any track other than maybe Saratoga or Del Mar, and way more reasonably priced then either of those. (Though, admission this time was up to $5 - what's with that? That's ridiculous Arlington air you're breathing up there. Though, that included program, which AP doesn't, and we got a little DRF Lite thing I've never seen before, so maybe it was worth it.) Racing's competitive and the wagering is good, even if it isn't the highest class.

But finally, there's this, and it's no small consideration: It's one of two possible (semi-major) tracks to visit at your first overnight stop in a road trip from Chicago to Montana. Beautiful, friendly, racing-focused Canterbury Park, or the garish, noisy slots parlor mess of Prairie Meadows, with its track out back as an excuse. Canterbury or Prairie, Canterbury or Prairie ... hmmm.

Canterbury's paddock: Just the place to spend a warm, lazy, early summer evening.

Thanks much, Canterbury. I'll definitely be back!