Skip to main content

Curtis Sampson, who brought horse racing back to Minnesota, dies at 87

He died peacefully at his home in Hector, Minnesota.
Curt Sampson

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.

Next Up

dave lee wcco radio

Former WCCO Radio host Dave Lee moves into podcasts

His new podcast, called 'My First Concert,' launched last week.

Tow Boat

Tow boat collies with Mississippi River lock and dam in Alma, WI

The crash remains under investigation by the United States Coast Guard.

unsplash school bus

Police: Man in minivan approached kids, claimed he was former principal

Investigators say children were approached by a man in a white minivan who falsely claimed he'd been a local school principal.

covid

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, May 23

The latest from the state health department.

police tape, crime scene

Police: 2 people shot, 1 fatally over the weekend in La Crosse

Officers arrived to the scene and found one person suffering multiple gunshot wounds.

Bear killed after it attacked couple in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin couple fight, kill bear that broke into their home

The incident happened last week in north-central Wisconsin.

Image from iOS (2)

Urban Outfitters store in Uptown to close

A number of national chains have departed Uptown in recent years.

Screen Shot 2022-05-23 at 6.41.22 AM

USS Minneapolis-St. Paul officially launched in Duluth ceremony

It's the first U.S. Navy ship to be commissioned in Minnesota.

Screen Shot 2022-05-21 at 9.56.21 AM

North High principal Mauri Friestleben returning to finish year

The principal said Friday she had been fired from her role over her support of a student protest.

ambulance

One dead, two injured in wrong-way crash on Hwy. 169

The crash occurred on Highway 169 early Sunday morning.

minneapolis police

Man fatally shot overnight in north Minneapolis

The shooting was reported around 2:20 a.m.

Screen Shot 2022-05-22 at 8.30.08 AM

Campsites closed at Voyageurs National Park due to 'historic' water levels

All backcountry trails and campsites are closed, as well as many frontcountry sites.

Related

Screen Shot 2020-05-13 at 10.53.38 AM

Canterbury Park jockey banned for illegal device, loaded weapon

The Shakopee track has been running live races during the pandemic.

Horse track sets 2012 average attendance record

The average attendance for the 62-day live racing season at the Shakopee racetrack was 6,595 -- a new record at Canterbury Park, the Shakopee Patch writes. That's up 7.3 percent compared to last summer -- which was 6 days shorter because of the state government shutdown. The amount of money wagered was also up 25 percent this year.

Empire-Racing-jason bullard

Charges: $18M Ponzi scheme funded horse racing stable, other businesses

The couple owns Empire Racing Stables, which is one of the leading horse owners at Canterbury Park.

Screen Shot 2020-08-17 at 8.29.56 AM

Jake Mauer, 'patriarch of the Mauer baseball family,' dies at 89

Jake Mauer is perhaps best known for his role at Canterbury Park in Shakopee.

Screen Shot 2020-05-13 at 10.53.38 AM

Canterbury Park requests 52-day racing season starting in June

The racetrack and card casino has been shut down since mid-March.

Commission approves deal between race track and casino

The bargain calls for the tribe that operates neighboring Mystic Lake casino to pay Canterbury Park $75 million over 10 years. In return for that cash infusion to boost its purses, the Shakopee track will give up its long-running push for slot machines. The Running Aces harness racing track is not part of the deal and argued against it.

Racing back in action at North Dakota Horse Park?

It looks like horse racing might return to Fargo as soon as this summer after being shut-down for two years because of major debt. Forum Communications reports the horse park has paid off several thousand dollars and found new revenue streams. The commission is set to discuss racing dates later this month.