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15,168 Enjoy July 3rd

TamarenoAlex Canchari was searching for ice in the jockeys room after the second half of the co-feature Wednesday night.

“What’s up?” someone asked.

“I’m trying to cool off,” said Canchari.

“Oh, wait a minute…” he added.

Yes, indeed, wait a minute. Canchari had just won three races in a row, including the Princess Elaine and Blair’s Cove stakes, each worth $50,000.

The hottest rider on the grounds was wiping perspiration from his forehead and looking for ice to stuff in his helmet. He reconsidered.

Three years ago, Canchari was selling tacos in the Cantina at Canterbury Park, having grown up in Shakopee, the son of Luis Canchari, who rode at Canterbury in the late 1980s.

“In all of the places you’ve raced have you ever ridden three winners in a row?” paddock analyst Angela Hermann asked Alex in the winners’ circle. “No, ma’am,” he said.

“Have you ever ridden two $50,000 stakes winners in a row?” she added. “No, ma’am,” Canchari repeated.

“Welcome home,” she said.

Canchari capped off his sterling afternoon (and early evening) on Ghost Dance, a six-year-old gray gelding who won two grass races late in the meet last summer, both allowance events.


“We’ve been thinking about this race since,” said winning trainer/owner Bryan Porter. “This is the race we’ve been pointing for.”

The race included Mack’s Blackhawk, third in last year’s race; Tubby Time, the defending champion, and Coconino Slim, the runner-up last year.

Ghost Dance ran down Mack’s Tiger Paw, Tubby Time and Coco Slim to give the Minnesota Kid (those words are emblazoned on the side of his pants) his third win on the card, with a winning  time of 1:40.86 for the distance. (Correction: an earlier version of this blog referred to the final time as a track record. In fact, Aroney had previously broken the track record for the distance at the meet running 1:40.83 on June 20. Therefore, Ghost Dance’s final time of 1:40.86 was not a new track record for the distance.)

A crowd of 15,168 was on hand for the annual card that concludes with fireworks. Many of them witnessed Canchari’s winning run on It’s Tamareno (pictured above), trained by Percy Scherbenske, in the Princess Elaine Stakes.

Scherbenske was concerned before the race about the distance, a mile and 1/16 on the turf, the same as its Blair’s Cove. Both were run on the grass.


Distance was not the issue afterward for Scherbenske. It was a question of surface. “She runs best on the grass,” he said.

Canchari, the Minnesota kid, heartily agreed after she split horses at the sixteenth pole to finish a head in front of Happy Hour Honey and another neck in front of Talkin Bout, with a time of 1:42.46.

The festive July 3rd crowd wagered $316,993 and an additional $861,768 was wagered throughout the country on Canterbury’s holiday card.


Stormy Smith knew exactly what he was getting into, or make that “on,” in the $22,900 Great Lakes Stakes Wednesday afternoon.

Smith had gotten on the horse, BF Farm Boy, a few days ago and liked what was beneath him during a morning work. “I also saw the horse race at Remington Park on May 12. He got beat a neck by Cold Cash 123 and that horse is something,” Smith recalled.

BF Farm Boy, breaking from the No. 2 hole, slipped badly on the break and the No.1 horse, Wagon Empire, got a decisive jump. Then BF Farm Boy got his feet back beneath him and ran down the leader to win in a (hand-time) 21:83.


Owned by Wade Siegel and Don Boyle and trained by William S Harris, BF Farm Boy recorded the sixth win of his 30-race career.

“We gelded him last fall and that seemed to help,” said Harris. “I had just told my wife how good the footing was and then he slips. But when he gets a chance to run he’s a darn good horse. As you saw.”

A Splash of Hell, ridden by Ry Eikleberry, was third. Cody Smith brought in Painted Lies for fourth.


Turn back to the first Saturday in May, 2009 and a winner named Mine That Bird, who arrived at Churchill Downs under the most unceremonious of conditions, having traveled 1,700 miles from New Mexico in a trailer attached to a pickup truck.

Something will remind trainer Chip Woolley of that unforgettable day on occasion and he’ll pull up a memory or two to mull over. “I can’t watch an entire tape of that day and race without getting a little emotional,” Woolley said. “I guess it’ll always be that way.”

As it should.

There is another memory he’d just as soon put behind him.

Woolley has been running a stable at Prairie Meadows the last three summers and likes to fish in his spare time. He likes to pursue the wily carp with bow and arrow. On a recent outing he had finished for the day and was heading back. “It was getting king of dusky,” he recalled. The heavy rains this year have increased water levels in many places, including the Des Moines River. “There are a lot of logs and branches,” he said. “You don’t want to run into one.”

Woolley encountered one on the return trip up-river, but the log turned out to be the body of a 35-year-old man and he reported the finding on the spot.

Woolley paid a brief visit to Canterbury in the 1980s, but is truly impressed with the facility this time around. “They’ve got something for everyone here,” he said. “How many places to get something to eat here… 30? l really like the place. There’s not another track like this.”

Unless, of course, it’s Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May and you’re leading a horse named Mine That Bird to the paddock.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.