BY JIM WELLS
Canterbury Park and its popular race caller got unexpected kudos this week, from a horse owner and racing enthusiast who has never been to the Shakopee track but plans to visit soon.
Greg Geiser has never been to Shakopee, Minn., but he has a horse who has.
Geiser is partners with two other men in a horse that made a winning Canterbury debut last Sunday. All three men are from the Seattle area. Geiser watched the race at Turf Paradise in Phoenix. One of his partners, Fred Desimone watched the race at Emerald Downs in Seattle, convincing operators there to pull the Canterbury signal up for this single race.
“He knows some people there and got them to put the signal up for 10 minutes or so, but then they took it right back down,” Geiser said.
Gesier sounds like a man who might be a great good will ambassador for Canterbury, even though he has yet to visit the Minnesota track. He has a certain familiarity with Minnesota’s thoroughbred/quarter horse palace nonetheless, after watching numerous races via simulcast and meeting horsemen familiar with the facility.
“Canterbury is just gorgeous,” Geiser said. “It looks absolutely great on TV. I have a couple of buddies who are racetrack announcers, and I just love that guy you have there (Paul Allen). He throws a lot of funny stuff out during his calls.”
Told that Allen is also the voice of the Minnesota Vikings, Geiser said he already knew that. “I heard his name associated with (the Vikings) one time,” Geiser said. “I thought ‘that sounds familiar.’ ”
Geiser, Desimone and Bob Cappelletti formed a partnership called The Sons of Sacred Heart and own other horses on their own. They race primarily in Southern California and at their home track, Emerald Downs.
Cappelletti is also the racing manager for Dr. George Todaro, who has horses with trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, including Breeders’ Cup starter Hystericalady among a stable of 140.
The Sons of Sacred Heart claimed a horse called Thelifeoftheparty at Turf Paradise in Phoenix on April 15 with the express purpose of sending her with trainer Wade Rarick to Canterbury. Rarick saddled the horse in Sunday’s fifth race and Ry Eikleberry, the leading rider in Phoenix this season and the leading quarter horse rider at Canterbury last spring, took her to the winner’s circle.
Thelifeoftheparty, a 3-year-old filly by Cat Dreams from the Dynaformer mare Martinis Atmidnite, won for the second time in five career starts, this one at six furlongs.
The trainer and the jockey provided Geiser with positive reviews on the Minnesota track before bringing the filly north.
“I talked to Ry before he went up there and he told me that he just loves the place,” said Geiser. “He says that the people are down at the rail, yelling and hollering and everyone has a good time. At Turf, there might be five guys hanging on the rail and that’s about it.”
Rarick is in his second season on his own (his father Red also has a stable) at Canterbury and provided a similiar review.
“I haven’t heard one bad thing about Canterbury, from a trainer or anybody else who’s been there,” Geiser said. “I just wish they had a broader based signal so more tracks could see their races. I’m looking forward to seeing it,” he added.
That could be soon.
Rarick plans to start Thelifeoftheparty sometime within the next three weeks. Geiser, Cappelletti and Desimone hope to be in the grandstand that day.
Perhaps they will have another horse on the grounds by that time. Rarick says the group intends to claim a horse in Shakopee once he finds one they like.
“I can’t wait to get there,” Geiser said.