Joel Zamzow didn’t even need to see the race. All he had to do was listen to Canterbury Park announcer Paul Allen to know when his horse, A P Is Loose, was about to win.
“I’d just listen for Paul’s call of ‘A P Is Loose!’ in the last 50 yards,” Zamzow said. “I think with that name and with Paul calling it, he became the people’s horse.”
The bay gelding did attract quite a following during a long racing career in Shakopee, but not just for that catchy, Vikings-themed name. A P Is Loose won 13 races at Canterbury, including five stakes, and won the hearts of countless fans with a hard-trying style that earned him a place in the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.
A son of Monarchos, A P Is Loose collected $511,653 in earnings. He is the top-earning thoroughbred in Canterbury history, with $503,728 won in Shakopee. Canterbury’s champion grass horse in 2015, he also shared the season title as champion older horse in 2016 and won the Blair’s Cove Stakes three times.
A P Is Loose was bred by Zamzow, an orthopedic surgeon from Duluth. The horse’s name was inspired by Allen’s work as the Vikings’ play-by-play announcer, and by the dazzling play of the team’s star running back. “In Adrian Peterson’s MVP season (2012), I was watching a montage on YouTube of touchdown runs,” Zamzow said. “Time after time after time, it’s Paul calling, ‘And he’s loose!’ I thought it would be a cool thing to have that name.”
It was cooler still to have a horse with the speed and tenacity of his namesake. Stakes-placed as a 2-year-old, A P Is Loose broke his maiden at age 3, then blossomed the following year after moving to Mac Robertson’s barn.
Zamzow recalls those Blair’s Cove wins fondly. They all came on July 3 in front of a revved-up crowd of 15,000 or more, enjoying racing and awaiting the post-race fireworks show. The scene was always electric, and the heavily bet A P Is Loose did not disappoint.
Many of the horse’s big moments were shared with Zamzow’s brother, Mark, who died in 2017. Joel and Mark Zamzow were partners in the horse business; together, they purchased Masquerade Star, a $5,000 mare who produced A P Is Loose and several other winners. The brothers spent many happy summers together in Shakopee, watching their horses run and win.
A P Is Loose finished in the money in 34 of 44 Canterbury starts and was particularly tough on its turf course. He was retired from racing last fall at age nine and is living at Zamzow’s farm, enjoying as much happiness as he gave.
“He’s a happy horse,” Zamzow said. “It’s been wonderful to have him there. He’s one of those cool horses that did well for us.”