By JIM WELLS
A number of truths, half-truths and outright lies were exposed to the light for proper analysis during Sunday’s card, the 55th of the 2011 season.
Right off the bat, let us dismiss the rumor: Joe Mauer, the Twins Mr. Versatility, can play first base, right field or behind the plate but will not fill in for his grandfather, Big Jake, Canterbury’s Hall of Fame tout who has peddled tip sheets since 1985.
Yes, Canterbury’s favorite Irishman, Paul Nolan, is back in town with another stakes win under his belt. Nolan was at Assiniboia Downs on Saturday to ride in the $25,000 Osiris Stakes.
One of his colleagues alluded to the win as Nolan headed down the tunnel for the third race on Sunday’s Canterbury card. “Watch out,” he said. “Irishman up.”
Yes, it is true. A Lonnie Arterburn-trained and Brittany Arterburn-ridden horse can win on the dirt. The Arterburns demonstrated as much with a convincing win with Just Jebicah in the $25,000 HBPA Sprint Stakes.
No, it is not always true that a man’s real opponent in life is himself, but it was in this case. Bob Johnson saddled six of the eight horses in the field for $19,940 Northern Plains Stallion Futurity. Clyde Smith brought in the convincing winner, Johnson’s Meter Me A Lady, who ran away from the field. Paddock analyst Angela Hermann told Johnson afterward that she imagined he had to enlist the help of an octopus to saddled that many horses.
That left Johnson with a very simple explanation: “She was the best, much the best.” The Johnson gang assuredly got together for a celebration Sunday night. The winner is owned by John G. Johnson, Bob’s father.
The Arterburns have dominated the Shakopee grass this summer. Brittany has acquired the sobriquet, “Queen of the Turf,” riding almost exclusively for the family barn. She has thrown in a couple of dirt wins along the way, but Sunday’s was claimed with a masterful ride.
Dean Butler and March Twelth issued a strong challenge inside the final 16th but Arterburn got Just Jebicah to dig in once more, repel that bid and reach the wire ¾ length in front. It was another 6 ¼ lengths back to Malone Slam, trained by Kevin Eikleberry and ridden by Glenn Corbett.
“The horse ran off with her,” said Lonnie Arterburn. “He showed that kind of speed the other day.”
Rider and trainer had slightly different story-lines after the win. The rider indicated she took the lead by design. Be that as it may, it was one more win for a strong stable that has had a stellar summer.
Yes, on another front, it’s true, CanterBuddy is the fastest mascot in Shakopee, as he demonstrated convincingly by whipping 11 rivals in the Mascot Derby Stakes.
On non-related fronts, Paul Allen was back at the Canterbury mike for Sunday’s card after a two-day hiatus to Seattle for the Minnesota Vikings game, and Hermann was back in the paddock after a day off to participate in her sister’s bachelorette party. She was replaced on Saturday by Andrew Offerman, Jeff Maday and Ted Grevelis. Grevelis pointed out that it took three men to replace one woman.
Nolan’s visit to Assiniboia was worth the trip, although he was certain to hit the hay early Sunday night. He left Shakopee at 7 a.m. on Saturday and was back home at 4:15 a.m. on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the six Johnson-trained horses in the Futurity reminded trainer Doug Oliver of an instance years ago. “We called it a charity race,” he recalled.
“We were running in the bushes at the time and one fellow had 10 horses he took with him on the circuit and couldn’t win a race all summer.”
So, as only happens in the bushes, a race was made for the guy at the end of the summer, at a fair meet. A race for only his horses. “It gave him some getting away money,” Oliver recalled.
And that tale wound up a full day, the fifty-fifth of the 2011 meet.