BY JIM WELLS
The pageantry, colors and festive nature of the Mystic Lake Derby, replete with more and more aspects of American Indian Culture, have made this day the piece de resistance of the summer racing season in Shakopee.
The Derby is the race of the season because of Mystic Lake’s financial involvement, and the elements of Indian culture that now accompany the program in an ever increasing number have become a natural and attractive addition to the day’s racing.
Indian relay racing, dancing, songs and demonstrations, including arrow throwing, kept Saturday’s crowd of 10,485 in awe in those many moments that surround each race. The race of the day did its part as well.
The Derby and its appealing $200,000 purse drew a field of seven for the fourth running from various locations in the country, but it was a local owner who took home the goods.
A colt named Nun the Less was more or less relegated to a secondary role and sent off at 4-1. Not even his owner, Bob Lothenbach of Eden Prairie, expected much more than a spot among the top three or four, much less a trip to the winner’s circle.
Yet, Nun the Less, sent off at 4-1 with Florent Geroux in the irons, took advantage of a perfect pace, set up in part by his stablemate , Flashy Jewel, who applied pressure at the front end of the race from the break to the top of the stretch.
Nun the Less, meanwhile, had begun his rally on the turn and came into the stretch four wide with plenty left in the tank to hit the wire a length in front of 9/2 Gallery and Carlos Marquez, Jr. Syntax, sent off the 7/5 favorite, was next under Christopher DeCarlo, two additional lengths back.
“I was surprised,” said Lothenbach. “I thought we’d finish maybe fourth. But the pace set up perfect for us.”
The fractional times of 23.22, 46.48 and 1:10.38 were precisely what Nun the Less was looking for and he finished in 1:34.82.
Nun the Less, sired by Candy Ride from Nunnery, had previous earnings of $129,092 and was bred at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky.
INDIAN RELAY RACES
Kalan Hammond, a 24-year-old member of the Sho-Ban tribe from Fort Hall, Idaho, won the championship round of this competition in grand fashion for the Tissidimit team, which included Toby Tissidimit as the mugger, Lance Tissidimit as the set-up man and Keinan Tissidimit as the back holder.
He became the team’s third rider after the first two were injured earlier this season.
The consolation winner was James Real Brid from the Crow Tribe of the Montana Crow Agency in Medicine Tail, Mont.
MUSIC FOR THE EARS
If Brian Akipa could distribute CDs of his music, there would be no need for sleeping pills or any other kind of drug to shut out the troubles of the day. Akipa, a Sisseton Sioux, has accompanied various events during the this week of American Indian celebration at Canterbury.
He was seen frequently in the winner’s circle playing his flute, emitting such dulcet tones that not the most perplexed of humanity could resist succumbing to his songs at the end of a long day.
He has mastered the flute after taking it up several years ago and now can project the peaceful nature of his culture as well as anything found in music stores throughout the nation.
PHAROAH DIDN’T LISTEN
Told you Pharoah, but you wouldn’t listen, would you! Did you even notice the grave markers in the infield upon arriving there. You had your chance. The track in Shakopee would have been much kinder, not to mention the competition. But nooooooo…you couldn’t leave the bright lights, could you, even though it’s been the undoing of a multitude of superstars.
You knew that the Jim Dandy Stakes was named after the horse that derailed Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox. You could still smell Onion in the air this many years after he knocked off Secretariat. And how about Upset, the horse whose name became a verb and a noun in all of sports after he handed Man o’ War his only loss in 21 races on this racetrack.
But no, Pharoah, you had to snub your nose at Canterbury Park and the enticing offer made to get you here. You had to stay with the big boys in the limelight, and look what happened. And those fractions set it up nicely for you and you still got caught in the final strides.
Don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for you after such a poor career choice.