By JIM WELLS
Majestic Farms really isn’t a farm and there aren’t any horses stabled there. It’s an idyllic seven-acre layout in Afton that borrowed its name in part from the street that runs past the place _ Majestic Pines.
(An aside: Purists can take comfort in the fact that a horse farm is located immediately next door.)
When the Koenigs, who live at Majestic Farms, arrived at Canterbury Park on Sunday, their focus was on the fourth race and a horse named Who Let The Cat In.
The Koenigs, Paul and Michelle, have been racing horses for the past three years _ after attending an ownership seminar at the track.
They have owned some 17 horses, several in partnership, in the time since; most notable among those was Jazz Quest, a horse they purchased for $30,000, won $110,000 with in seven months and then sold 90 percent of for a cool $500,000.
“He ran at all the big tracks in the East and Midwest,” Paul said. “He ran third in a Grade III.”
Paul Koenig played high school football at Hutchinson High School and then as a back-up defensive back for the Minnesota Gophers (1987-90). He made a trip to Canterbury his freshman year at the U, and horse racing had a new fan.
“Being from a small town, this seemed like the big city and we could gamble, too,” he said with a chuckle on Sunday, with 4 ½ year old Christian at his hip. Michelle, meanwhile, was rocking a tired 20-month old Serena in her arms.
The Koenigs had something to celebrate on Sunday after Who Let the Cat In outdueled All Joking Aside to win the six-furlong starter allowance.
They own the horse in partnership with Richie Scherer and it is stabled and conditioned locally by Gary Scherer.
Tracy Hebert has ridden the five-year-old gelding his last two starts; he won at the same distance on May 16 and was just beaten at six furlongs on June 11.
With Hebert serving days on Sunday, the mount went to Paul Nolan who saved just enough Cat for the final 1-16th when it truly counted.
The Koenigs bought the gelding in partnership for an undisclosed sum in Chicago. “We spent a lot,” said Paul. “When he got cheap on us, our partner didn’t want to wait and that’s when Richie got involved.”
A new owner/trainer and the Cat was out of the bag. “He ripped off four in a row,” said Paul, “and is now five out of six.”
The win did a bit to help mollify the disappointment the Koenigs experienced on Friday night. “Yeah, our win became a second,” said Michelle.
Big Push, a horse the Koenigs own in partnership with DeBill Racing, won the $50,000 Dean Kutz Stakes but was placed second, behind Fufty Too, for interference in the stretch.
The Koenigs recovered a small portion of what they lost in the disqualification with the win on Sunday and with Paul’s investment at the pari-mutuel windows.
“Yes, I bet him confidently,” he said.
A FREAKISHLY FAST FILLY
Lil Dish, a 3-year-old filly by Freespool, made her first start in Sunday’s second race and caught the eye of several patrons and horsemen alike.
With Ry Eikleberry up, Lil Dish smoked the field in a razor sharp 1:04.99 for 5 ½ furlongs.
“I thought she was fast when I worked her,” said Eikleberry. “She really impressed me today.”
She impressed a few other folks, too.
“I saw her work (in 47 flat),” said agent Richard Grunder. “She an absolute freak.”
Grunder used that knowledge at the windows on Sunday, but, in retrospect, was kicking himself. “I went too lightly,” he said. “I put $20 and should have put $100 on her.”
Owner/trainer Doug Oliver purchased the filly at a Robert Bone dispersal sale in Phoenix for a modest $1,000. “When Ry worked her in 47 flat, he said he couldn’t hold her back, couldn’t get her to work any slower,” said Oliver. “She’s really, really quick,” he added with a grin.
Lil Dish was bred by Bone in California, and that information alone was enough to interest Oliver, who now hopes that history might repeat itself _ at least to a small extent.
He and his father owned a horse in the early 1970s by the name of Cherry River, who was the fourth fastest horse in the nation. Cherry River won the Bing Crosby Handicap twice, which had Oliver dreaming of a trip to San Diego again these many years later.
“Wouldn’t that be fun, a trip to Del Mar,” he said to his wife, Elaine, who nodded in agreement.
A QUARTER HORSE RECORD
The standard for 300 yards at Canterbury Park has stood at 15.62 seconds since 1995, but the record established by Ignitions Off came tumbling down in Sunday’s ninth race.
It was no surprise that the new record-setter came from the barn of Canterbury’s perennial quarter horse training champ _ Ed Ross Hardy.
Eikleberry was in the irons on this speedball, too. Check Out Kaelie, a 3-year-old sorrel filly by Check Him Out, was clocked in 15.578.