BY JIM WELLS
A frequent patron of the races stuck his head outside the front door early Saturday to encounter a heavy rain. “Well,” he responded, “Canterbury Park must have something big planned today.”
There has been no better forecast of the weather this spring/summer than the schedule at the Shakopee racetrack.
If a big race is on the card, put the picnic basket and fishing pole away. If a Triple Crown race is scheduled that day, get out the umbrella and rain gear. Sometimes, it’s the oppressive humidity that ruined the day.
Saturday was no exception. The card offered two $50,000 stake races, the Minnesota Turf Distaff and the Minnesota Turf.
Naturally, they were moved to the dirt. One look at the paddock greens could have told you that would happen. On one side of the pathway to the paddock saddling area the ground and grass resembled the everglades. Valets splashed their way through tack for their designated horses.
It stayed dry and clear at Elmont, N.Y. for the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes and Justify ran a superb race under Mike Smith to become racing’s newest Triple Crown champion.
Smith, of course, was the kid from New Mexico who took Canterbury Downs by storm its first season (1985), winning the track’s first riding title. He was second, three wins behind Sandy Hawley the next year when his ambition took him to larger racetracks. He rode locally only part of the season in 1987 before leaving entirely, and it was obvious then he had the talent to compete at higher levels.
MINNESOTA TURF DISTAFF
Pinup Girl is a big, strong looking filly who covers ground quickly, as she did Saturday in the stretch drive of this fifty grand race.
After stalking the leaders throughout, she went four horses wide on the far turn under Santiago Gonzalez to win her second consecutive stake race following her Lady Slipper win on May 19.
She caught Double Bee Sting in the final strides to finish a neck in front, with TaKala Warning in third, another 1 ¾ lengths back.
Somehow she made it look easy in the process.
“Si, muy facile,” said Gonzalez.
Trainer Sandra Sweere was pleased with the result, which confirmed her belief that this filly can run on dirt or grass.
“It doesn’t matter to her,” she said. “She can run on any surface.”
Probably the Princess Elaine on July 3.
“We’ll see. It’s up to the owners,” Sweere said. That would be Gary and Brenda Bergsrud.
Hot Shot Kid is just that again, as he clearly demonstrated in this race with a commanding victory over a field seven rivals.
Under Dean Butler, Hot Shot took charge coming out of the turn and finished 6 ¼ lengths in front of Plenty of Sun, who had a half length on Teddy Time.
Trained by Mac Robertson, Hot Shot got his first win of the year in four starts, following a three-year-old season when he won five of nine races and was on the board seven times.
Hot Shot Kid is owned by Warren Bush.
YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP
As the riders and horses came out of the turn for home in Saturday’s third race they had company on the racetrack.
Geese. A family of them
“There were four or five babies and three or four big ones,” said rider Ry Eikleberry. “They were headed from the outside rail to the inside.”
Undoubtedly for a swimming lesson in the infield pool.
In any event, the horses in the race saw them and took an interest, enough so that the racing stewards posted an inquiry to examine if the feathered creatures affected the outcome of the race. The decision was that they did not.
The riders are well aware of one particular goose who awaits them mornings at the gap during workouts. He made his way to his “perch” the other morning through a field but was spotted by jockey Dean Butler.
“It looked like he was coming from Cub (Foods),” Butler said.
The jockeys, who’ve named the goose “Chisholm”, said that the DNR has had representatives on hand to move the goose on a couple of occasions but they have been too late to spot him.
“We told them that he’s here in the mornings,” Butler added.
It’s funny the people you run into at the racetrack sometimes.
Star-Tribune handicapper Johnny Love was making his rounds on Saturday when he ran into an acquaintance: His son Julian’s former teacher at St. Mark’s grade school in St. Paul.
Accompanying Love in the paddock before the Turf Distaff was Katie Peterson, who taught Julian in the first, second and third grades, and her husband, Danny, along with a number of friends.
Love was delighted with Justify’s triple crown championship. “He’s better than American Pharoah,” he proclaimed. “He’s going up on my Mount Rushmore of horse racing.”