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Bell and Robertson Win Both Stakes

by Jim Wells

If you won’t wear one cowboy belt buckle, what on earth will you do with two?

That was the least of Mac Robertson’s concerns on Saturday after sweeping both stakes races on the card, the $35,000 Lady Slipper Stakes with Bella Notte and the $35,000 10,000 Lakes with Sir Tricky.

In addition to the trophy that goes to the winning connections, the winning trainer got an engraved buckle made just for the races by Maynard Buckles, Spurs &Silver out of Thoreau, N.M. The company made the buckles specifically for the two races in return for setting up a booth at Canterbury this weekend featuring their western silver and turquoise jewelry.

The buckles are probably more suited to a quarter horse trainer’s tastes, at least in Robertson’s case. “My wife will probably like this. She was into that rodeo stuff,” Robertson said after track president/general manager Randy Sampson showed him the Lady Slipper buckle.

Robertson requested that Sampson keep the buckle for him until later in the day. “I might lose it,” he said. He needed to saddle Sir Tricky for the following race.

Twenty minutes later he had another buckle for his spouse.

The winning rider in both races was Canterbury Park’s defending riding champ Derek Bell, who would like to claim a seventh title this meet.

Bell was certain he had a winner with Sir Tricky (pictured) at the 3/8th’s pole. “Everybody else was already riding,” he said. Sir Tricky won this race in 2007. He is owned by Barry and Joni Butzow of Eden Prairie. Sir Tricky finished in front of Captain Canaveral. The win was Sir Tricky’s 10th from 31 starts.

The race was Bella Notte’s first since a six-furlong event at Hawthorne Race Course on April 10 and second since last Feburuary26. “My big concern was that she’d get tired, but I got more tired than she did,” said Bell.

Bella Notte, a home bred from Art and Gretchen Eaton’s Randolph farm, is a five-year-old mare by Quick Cut from Just One Rainbow and won for the fifth time from 10 career-starts. She finished in front of Thanks for the Tip.

The Eatons turned her over to Robertson last year. “He’s very hands-on and his help is awesome,” Gretchen said. “He’s made a difference.”

Robertson was hoping for something that will make a difference as well. He was still feeling a bit punk on Saturday from a bug he’s had the last few days.

The two stakes wins will help some.

We should all do so well when we feel so bad.

There was a table set up just inside the main entrance to the grandstand the last two days where Canterbury customers can sign their names in support of casino gaming for the racetrack. In addition, there were recruiters with clipboards strolling through the crowd for the same purpose.

While Tom Metzen, Jr. and Jim Olson have been representing horsemen’s interests at the legislature this week, others have been soliciting signatures.

One of them on Saturday was Patrice Underwood from the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Assn. “We turned over 1,100 signatures (from opening night on Friday) to the Governor’s office this morning,” she said. The recruiters had collected another 650 signatures by mid afternoon on Saturday.

Of those involved, Metzen is the most optimistic that the legislature will act favorably on a bill Canterbury has sought since the mid 1990s. “When we started 90 days ago I thought our chances were 100-1,” he said. “Today, I’d say they’re more like 7-2.”

Canterbury’s pursuit of gaming to help bolster purses has been an ongoing process since the Sampson family purchased the track in 1994. The legislative session winds up at midnight Monday so time is running short to convince lawmakers to vote in the affirmative.

There has never been a time since Canterbury reopened in 1995 that racing needed new forms of revenue as badly as it does now.

With the state badly in need of revenue, the idea seems like a no-brainer to horsemen. “The situation would seem to set up good for us,” said track president/general manager Randy Sampson. “There is still some hope….some.”