The Minnesota man who took a faltering Canterbury Downs and helped turn it into the thriving race track it's known as today has died. Curtis Sampson, a native of Hector, Minnesota, passed away Thursday in his hometown at the age of 87.
"We head into today with very heavy hearts and our minds are clouded given the death of Canterbury Park co-owner and chairman Curt Sampson," said track announcer Paul Allen before the races began Thursday evening.
"The loving, giving, vibrant man died peacefully at his Hector home," Allen added.
Sampson, his son Randy Sampson and Dale Schenian purchased a closed Canterbury Downs in 1994 and reopened the track as Canterbury Park a year later.
In 2000, they added to the entertainment by opening the Canterbury Card Casino, never failing to maintain a "relentless focus" on a "family-friendly atmosphere," a press release from Canterbury reads.
Racing is happening this summer at Canterbury Park, though fans aren't allowed to attend because of COVID-19. Instead, the Shakopee track is offering curbside wagering and free live streaming during the races.