By Jim Wells
Call it a flicker of hope, a spark in the ash of the campfire, a glimmer of light in a sea of darkness. Minnesotans were given a reason to raise their heads and applaud again on Sunday.
At a sporting event.
Just like that, the doubting Thomases of sportsdom stood and feted one of their own, a horse bred and born within the confines of the state, a horse that defied the odds _ 18-1, in fact _ by winning the richest quarter horse race of the season with a jockey who doubled his win total for the meet on a single afternoon.
Maybe we can change our license plates now. “land of 10,000 Lakes and not quite as many losers.”
In a field that included foes bred in the quarter-horse meccas of the sport _ Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas _ Minnesota came out on top.
Stand and greet, if you would, please, a 2-year-old Minnesota-bred filly called Jess Doin Time, a native Minnesotan and winner of the $146,400 350-yard Mystic Lake Futurity, a 350-yard dash for 2-year-olds. Only two other state-breds have won this race in its 32 runnings.
Bred and owned by Tom Pouliot of Corcoran, she paid $39.40 on a two-dollar win ticket after outdueling favorite Miss Energy P by ¾ length, with another ¾ length back to Maghelene. The winning time was 17.940.
Someone mentioned to Pouliot the jockey’s contribution. “Hey, the kid did a great job, using both hands to keep that horse straight,” he said.
The winning rider, Julian Serrano, had just two wins for the meet……until Sunday. Earlier on the card, he guided Zoes Sassy Miracle to a win in the $20,000 Mystic Lake Northlands Juvenile. Sunday’s two wins pretty much made the meet for him.
“I couldn’t get a win,” he said. “And now, this. Things started turning around for me last week when I rode a winner. This really turned them,” he said. “I feel really good about it.”
Earlier, in the winner’s circle, Pouliot talked about the filly at just three weeks old, running in the pasture at the farm as her mother looked on. “She ran out in the pasture and then came back (to her mother) running with her head down,” he said. He was impressed at the time with the way she ran and envisioned good things ahead.”
Her mother, Lenas Rare Lady, was in foal by Apollitical Jess, another promising feature as Pouliot saw it. “He’s one of the best sires, maybe No. 1, in the business,” he added.
Pouliot then maneuvered his right arm in the socket, as if it were out of joint. “I must be getting old,” he said. He apparently had done something to the arm pumping it in the air as he watched Jess Doin Time take the lead.
So why, he was asked, did his fellow Minnesotans not demonstrate same faith he had in his two-year-old. It was a puzzle to him since he had all sorts of confidence.
“I felt really good about her,” he said, “admitting to betting $10 across the board on her, as he has done previously.”
$40,100 BOB MOREHOUSE STAKES
Trainer Jason Olmstead asks his riders to pick their horses before the draw, so Cristian Esqueda, who has first call in the barn, went with Pyc Jess Bite Mydust, the morning line and post-time favorite in the eight-horse field.
That left Denny Velazquez with Dickey Bob, who would be sent off as second choice at 5/1.
Maybe it’s a variation of the old axiom ….the first shall be last and the last first.
Whatever the explanation, Velazquez was first at the wire by a full 1 ½ lengths over Rey D Arrangue, with Pyc Jess Bite Mydust in third a head out of second place.
Nice pick up, eh, Denny !
“Yeah, perfect,” he said.
Moments later as he entered the jockeys lounge, he was greeted by Patrick Canchari.
“Hey, who was that I saw all curled up on that horse like that,” he said.
Velazquez gave a muted response, an acknowledgement of having received an indirect compliment, clearly pleased things had worked out as they had.
The favorite had thrown his head at the break and then drifted as he grabbed the dirt, reaffirming that it’s often “all in the break” when it comes to quarter horse racing.
Trainer Jason Olmstead couldn’t really lose in this one. He saddled both horses in addition to a third, Itinkican Itinkican who finished off the board.
Trainer Stacy Charette-Hill had saddled three winners of this race, but left a the definite impression that Sunday’s win by Disco Wagon, the fourth, was indeed the best.
The horse had been owned in partnership by Stacy, her husband Randy and a longtime friend, Victor Prior, who died a short time ago. Stacy and Randy were later informed by Prior’s widow that he left his share of Disco Wagon, to them.
“I hope Victor’s up there watching this,” Charette-Hill said, after Disco Wagon finished ¾ length in front of Df Apolitical Sign and another full length in front of Eagle Deluxe, in 19.91. “This one is really special (for Randy and Victor). This was their dream.”
$20,000 Mystic Lake Northlands Juvenile
Serrano got his first winner of the day and third of the meet aboard a filly named Zoes Sassy Miracle, owned by the Hussmans of Rapid City, S.D., who have had other horses named for youngsters in the family.
Zoe was on hand for Sunday’s win, her proud smile revealing youthful braces on her teeth that didn’t seem to matter in the least on this joyful afternoon.
The Husmans, Lowell, Becky and Lynn, had a horse named Matt Corona and hope to have one some day named Eva Diva. But on Sunday, they were singing the praises not only of Zoes Sassy Miracle, the winning favorite by a neck over Chocolatepaintedkiss with Dashing Fajita third by another neck, but of trainer Mark Barnes.
“You couldn’t get a better trainer, Lowell Husman said. “He just communicates so well. Make sure you put in a good word for him.”
“He’s really a winner,” added Lynn.
With that, the Husmans were ready to head home to Rapid City.