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Barn Notes


Percy Scherbenske has 16 horses at Canterbury Park, and another 18 in Chicago. He was in the racing office the other morning, but planned to jump in his truck and head east that afternoon.
Scherbenske was going to stop home at his Castle Rock farm and have an early dinner before making the trip to Arlington Park where he has horses running in four races this weekend. His trips back and forth to Chicago are numerous and add up to around 60,000 miles a year and a lot of wear and tear on his vehicles.

“A truck lasts me about three years,” he said. “It’s a lot of miles.”

Scherbenske has a number of tales about his vehicles and his commutes between Minnesota and Illinois. One in particular he’ll never forget occurred in 1996.

He got only as far as La Crosse before a breakdown sidelined him and derailed him plans.
“I had a brand new Dodge truck, just 400 miles on it,” Scherbenske recalled. “I to to La Crosse and the transmission went out. I was stuck there on the interstate with six horses.”

Scherbenske’s immediate concern, of course was for the horses he was hauling.That concern was alleviated during his ride into town in a patrol car. “The officer told me to call a local veterinary clinic. The people there picked up the horses and cared for them the next 10 days,” Scherbenske said.

Scherbenske’s wife picked him up and they returned to Castle Rock, and Dodge picked up the faulty truck.

Yes, the warranty was in effect and he got a new truck shortly thereafter, in plenty of time to drive back and forth between Chicago and Shakopee several times that year.

Heather Hanly was on the trainer’s viewing stand on the backside one morning this week with a group of students from Forest Lake High School.

Hanly is with Canterbury Park’s marketing department and was conducting a tour for some 20 juniors and seniors who are studying animal science, horses and horsemanship in Forest Lake.
The morning was moving along swimmingly and Hanly thought she knew one reason for the smooth sailing.

“I had a group of little kids here once last year,” she explained, ”and there were a lot of 2-year-olds working over the track (horses not children). I kept trying to watch these kids and kept thinking to myself ‘don’t move, no one move.’ ”

As trainer Troy Bethke later pointed out upon hearing the story, “You can be as careful as can be. But if a horse gets loose, it gets loose. It will go where it wants to.”

In any event, Hanly was relieved to be with the Forest Lake group. Some of them have horses of their own and understand the dangers associated with rank or frightened horses.

A couple of young ladies in the group were quite familiar with the erratic behaviors of horses. “I have my own horse,” one of them said. “They are a lot of work. I love horses. I love my horse, but there are a lot of days when you hate them, too.”

A comment such as that was undoubtedly soothing to Hanly. One could deduce that anyone familiar with this love/hate relationship might also know enough to jump one way or the other if a horse was on a rampage.

Trainer Steve Erban was on the viewing stand at the same time and, upon hearing that the group was made up of students from Forest Lake, couldn’t help but point out the athletic rivalry between the Rangers and Stillwater High School’s Ponies.

Erban’s daughter is a sophomore at Stillwater, and her father decided to have a little fun with some of the young men in the tour group, one lad in particular who was wearing a University of Minnesota wrestling shirt and looked big enough to fill a spot on the Gophers’ offensive line.
Erban had some fun sparring with some of the Rangers over Stillwater’s athletic prowess, and then confirmed for the group that his daughter would have fit in real well with them.

She helped deliver her first foal recently, he told the group.

Erban is a life-long Green Bay fan and was wearing a Packers sweatshirt on the viewing stand this particular morning. But he has been upset with the Green Bay braintrust since they showed Bret Favre the door last year.

Coach Mike McCarthy and his accomplices let their egos get in the way of retaining the Green Bay icon as Erban sees it, and the consequences couldn’t have been worse.

“They would have had a Super Bowl year with Favre there,” Erban said. “If he ends up with the Vikings, I’ll be rooting for Favre.”

Not for the Vikings, mind you, only for Favre.

“Can you just image some team trying to put nine in the box with Favre in there,” Erban said.

“Favre and the Vikings are a marriage made in the heaven.”

And when the Vikings and Packers square off?

“Let me make this clear,” the Stillwater horse trainer said, “I’ll root for Favre, even against the Packers.”

.”That doesn’t mean I’m rooting for the Vikings.”

Whoa, now! What would people think about another example of that reasoning, say, for instance:
“I was rooting for Calvin Borel in the Preakness Stakes last weekend, but not for Rachel Alexandra.”

Remember Senor Smiley?

Both of them?

Yes, there is a horse stabled at Canterbury Park named Senor Smiley, named for jockey Juan Rivera, who was given the nickname Senor Smiley by track announcer Paul Allen.

Senor Smiley rides Senor Smiley at Canterbury.

Fans will get their first look at Senor Smiley the horse sometime perhaps in the next couple of weeks. Trainer Brian Porter planned to work the horse this week and says the 3-year-old son of Bold Anthony from On Her Merit will run proably with in the next couple of weeks.

Senor Smiley ran twice at Canterbury Park last summer and failed to break his maiden. He did that on April 9th in a $39,000 maiden allowance race at Oaklawn Park. Previously, he was second in a maiden allowance at Oaklawn and second in a stakes at Louisiana Downs.

“He picked up a bug on the trip here and we kept him in the barn for awhile,” Porter said. “He’s doing fine. Just fine.”