Amber Blair got her stakes win on Saturday with BP Painted Lady in the Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ and North Central Derby. A nice stakes win in a $22,300 race, nothing to sneeze at.
The three-year-old filly was considered a shoo-in as the odds-on favorite and justified that confidence under Cody Smith.
Not bad at all.
Blair saddled a favorite named Hes Relentless (#7 in the video below) on June 1 at Remington Park, too, but got beat a head for the winner’s share by a 30-1 longshot named Big Biz Perry.
The race was the Grade 1 Heritage Place Futurity. The purse was worth $1 million as part of a $2 million card, the richest in Remington Park history.
Clearly the hoopla surrounding an event of that size was enough to cope with, but Blair also had the favorite in the race, which attracted additional attention.
“Obviously there had been a lot of hype about the horse. He was carrying a lot of weight (figuratively) that day. Our horse ran his race. The filly just left the gate a little sharper and got a jump on him. Two more jumps and he would have had her.”
Such is the stuff of horse racing, just like any other sport.
Hes Relentless is in Blair’s barn at Canterbury awaiting transfer in the coming weeks to the All American trials at Ruidoso. It’s likely he’ll make a stop at the thoroughbred farm managed by Amber’s father, Randy, in Oklahoma and travel later to New Mexico from there.
Hes Relentless is owned by Tom Maher and provided Blair with the biggest opportunity of her career. “It was bittersweet for sure,” she said. “We had never gotten to experience something like that. Nothing went wrong, I just guess that filly is very mature and prepped well.”
Blair is a regular at Canterbury Park. She finished third in the quarter horse standings a year ago and is back this season with the largest stable she’s had in Shakopee. “We have 30 head,” she said. That requires the help of four grooms and she probably could use a couple more.
Her father has been in the horse business his entire life, but Amber was planning on a different career for herself.
“He made me go to college,” she said, “so I had options, but I veered back to this.”
Amber considered a degree as a teacher in early childhood development, but wound up with an associated degree in science and agriculture. So, she does work in early development… in a way.
“I guess so,” she said. “Sometimes it seems like I’m running a daycare back there.”
Blair was born in Creston, Iowa, but her father went to work at a farm in Georgia when she was an infant and from there they moved on to Oklahoma, where she has been since.
The horse business started with her grandfather. “My dad’s dad was a horse trader. They had ponies and horses and broke them. I’ve always lived on a farm that he managed somewhere. I was born in Iowa and was there 30 days, just enough to have been an accredited Iowa-bred.”
So, she is an Oklahoman now, but a Minnesotan come summer, and is off to a solid start once again in Shakopee, picking up her second win of the meet in Saturday’s Derby.
SUNDAY CARD ABBREVIATED
Sunday’s 10-race card was cancelled after the third race when jockeys refused to ride due to what they deemed unsafe riding conditions. Several riders complained that their mounts were sliding around on the slick surface and were fearful that an accident was likely.
Jockeys met with track president Randy Sampson and other management in an attempt to resolve the issue. They wanted to continue riding but asked for some additional work on the track, hopeful of improving conditions.
Tractors worked over the track surface twice but the conditions were still deemed dangerous by the riders when the work was finished.
RICH PEOPLE HANDICAPPING
Canterbury Hall of Famer Sheila Williams reported that a heretofore untested handicapping tool worked marvelously for her on Saturday.
She referred, of course, to the Belmont Stakes.
The new technique? She called it the “Old Family Money” approach.
Well, she said, “Orb won the Kentucky Derby and is owned by the Phipps family, old money to be sure.”
“Then we had Oxbow, owned by Calumet Farm, win the Preakness Stakes.”
So, for Saturday’s Belmont Ms. Williams was all over Palace Malice, owned by Dogwood Stable and the 13-1 winner of the race.
This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.