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Beginner’s Luck

By Mari Ballinger

Despite their name, Beginner’s Luck Racing, they are far from rookies in the racing industry. Derek Drews, John Zobel, John Means, Drew Semenra, Dave Shannon, Joe Scurto, and Jeff Metz all have one thing in common: a love for horses and spending time at the racetrack.

For 25-year-old Drews, his interest in horses first rooted from his grandpa, Ron Essman. It started seven years ago at Columbus Racetrack in Nebraska; Drews would tag along to care for the horses. “It’s just so exciting,” continued Drews. “From seeing the horses in the barns to eventually seeing them cross the finish line- it’s a fun journey. And not to mention, I’ve created so many memories with my family at the track that I will cherish forever.”

Means’ story is a little different, however. The University of Oklahoma alum made his first trip to Oaklawn Park when he was a freshman in college. He walked in, placed a $2 show bet on a horse named Sooner, and ended up winning $3.80. Definitely not the highest paying ticket, but for a broke college student the win was enough to get Means hooked on horse racing.

As for Zobel, the regular attendee of Canterbury College, a course that teaches racing fans how to handicap, and former Canterbury Racing Club member has always sparked an interest in horse ownership. He wanted a more hands-on, exclusive experience so began participating in Minnesota Thoroughbred Association Ownership Seminars to learn more.

Semenra and Shannon, also co-owners, are avid racing fans and reside in Illinois.

And all thanks to Scurto, Beginner’s Luck was created. Scurto is the Executive Director for the Minnesota Racehorse Engagement Project, an organization that provides opportunities for residents to interact with racehorses, both active and retired. Scurto connects groups of people to help their horse ownership experience blossom.

Now, Beginner’s Luck has two horses. Two-year-old filly Angiemeansbusiness and 4-year-old gelding Minister’s Glory, both of which are trained by Jeff Metz.

“These horses are like our kids,” commented Means. “I love going back to the barn to check up on them, maybe give them a little pep talk before a big race.” He chuckled.

“I go to HyVee and buy a huge thing of carrots to bring to the barn,” explains Zobel. “When I walk in, I’m suddenly everyone’s favorite. It’s the little things that make this partnership so fun.”

As the 2019 racing season comes to a close, future plans are in the works for Beginner’s Luck.

Stay together?


Own more horses?

“Of course.”