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30th Minnesota Festival of Champions Saturday at Canterbury Park

$500,000 in stakes purses paid to horses foaled in state

Canterbury Park will celebrate the Minnesota breeding and horse racing industry on Saturday with the 30th rendition of the Minnesota Festival of Champions, a 10-race program restricted to horses bred in Minnesota. Six of the races are stakes with purses totaling $500,000. In all, 76 horses were entered. The first race is scheduled to be run at 4:05 p.m. CT.

The two stakes races restricted to 2-year-olds, the Northern Lights Debutante for fillies and the Northern Lights Futurity for colts and geldings, offer the richest purses, $100,000 each. A Primera Vista, trained and owned by Kerri Raven, is the second choice on the Debutante morning line at 2 to 1. She broke her maiden at first asking on Aug. 17 in a Delaware Park maiden turf sprint with Carol Cedeno aboard. Raven shipped the filly from her Delaware base to Canterbury this week. Cedeno will make the trip to Shakopee for the mount as well.

Kerri Raven

The filly immediately caught Raven’s eye when previewing yearlings in the 2022 Minnesota Thoroughbred Association Yearling Sale last summer. “She just struck me as the prefect stamp of a horse,” Raven said. “I was so confident that she was the one.” So much so that the $70,000 purchase price was the sale topper. The name A Primera Vista is fitting. “It means ‘at first glance’ or ‘at first sight,’” Raven said.

To win the Debutante, the five other fillies in the six-horse field may need to beat likely favorite Xtreme Diva who romped to victory by 12 1/2 lengths in her main track debut Aug. 9. Owned by Xtreme Racing Stables LLC, Xtreme Diva is trained by Mac Robertson, the all-time leader in Minnesota Festival wins with 39.

Robertson will saddle Superstar Swank in the Northern Lights Futurity, the largest stakes field of the evening with 10 entrants. He faces two favorites from the Joel Berndt barn, Jonny B Goney and Frosty View. Berndt has won the Futurity the past three seasons, each time for Lothenbach Stables Inc. who owns Frosty View. The Berndt 2-year-olds ran one-two on Aug. 26 with Jonny B Goney, owned and bred by Jack Guggisberg, beating his frontrunning stablemate by 3/4 of a length.

Berndt also entered two defending champions, Midnight Current in the $75,000 Princess Elaine Distaff Turf and Charlie’s Penny in the $75,000 Bella Notte Distaff Sprint. Both are owned by Lothenbach Stables who also has Stagecoach Boys and That’s Not Funny in the $75,000 Blair’s Cove Turf.

Five of the six entered in the $75,000 Crocrock Sprint have at least one stakes win on their resume. Thealligatorhunter and Doctor Oscar, both trained by Tim Padilla, met earlier in the season in the 10,000 Lakes Stakes where Doctor Oscar prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths. Doctor Oscar, owned by Pete Mattson, is the 7 to 5 favorite in the Crocrock.

The wagering menu will include two 10 percent takeout wagers: the Post Time Pick 4 beginning in the first race and a pick 5 beginning in the sixth race. The takeout rate on those wagers is the lowest in North America.

Following the Sept. 9 program, just two race dates remain: Wednesday, Sept. 13 and Saturday, Sept. 16, both beginning at 4:00 p.m.  More information is available at .

Championship Stakes Line-Up

Race 2 – $75,000 Blair’s Cove Turf – Post Time 4:35 p.m. –  1 1/16 miles on turf

Race 3 – $75,000 Crocrock Minnesota Sprint – Post Time 5:05 p.m.  – 6 furlongs on dirt

Race 4 – $100,000 Northern Lights Debutante – Post Time 5:35 p.m. – 6 furlongs on dirt

Race 6 – $75,000 Princess Elaine Distaff Turf – Post Time 6:45 p.m. – 1 1/16 miles on turf

Race 8 – $100,000 Northern Lights Futurity – Post Time 7:45 p.m. – 6 furlongs on dirt

Race 9 – $75,000 Bella Notte Minnesota Distaff Sprint – Post Time 8:15 p.m. – 6 furlongs on dirt