A Grand Opening

Joshua’s Journey was a great deal smoother Friday night than the one his trainer had last weekend. Smoother, easier, trouble-free. The four-year-old gelded son of Good Journey got a perfect ride from Patricia Trimble to win the first race of the 2012 racing season, going gate to wire with a trouble-free trip.

So Trimble, who married rider Rusty Shaw in the winner’s circle at Turf Paradise last autumn, started the meet the same way she ended last year’s in Shakopee – in the winner’s circle.

Total wagering totaled $477,514 for the season-opening card, up 30 percent over opening night a year ago. Additionally, a crowd of 8,844 took in the opening night festivities.

Joshua’s Journey started off the 2012 season for Trimble and trainer Valorie Lund on a positive note, just as Just In Time ended last year’s meet for her.

Joshua’s Journey (photo above) had clear sailing in the mile event for $5,000 claimers. That was not the case last weekend for Lund.

Lund made three trips to get 18 horses here from Phoenix. The last one was a doozy. Her 2010 Ford 350 diesel began making clunking sounds on the interstate in Kansas, about 500 miles from the stable gate in Shakopee.

Another trucker informed her when she stopped for advice that she’d probably make it if the problem was merely a lifter, certainly not if she had blown a rod.

So Lund did what any far-thinking horsewoman would do. “I called everyone in my family and said they needed to start praying,” she said.

On a more practical note, she contacted a friend at Prairie Meadows in Des Moines, Iowa, just in case.

Once she got through Des Moines, the same friend agreed to watch her back until she got halfway from there to Canterbury. A friend from Canterbury agreed to take over from there.

The Lund stable had been alerted to her difficulties and the hands knew the minute she reached the stable gate in Shakopee. “It was probably about 1 a.m. and they could hear the truck; it was making that much noise,” Lund said.

The solution. “Well, I need a new short block, turbo and injectors,” Lund said. She hopes to get her vehicle back in the next week or so.

As for the advice… “I did blow a rod,” she said.

Shaw arrived with his wife fully intending to ride this summer but is sidelined six to eight weeks with a broken left shoulder. He was breaking a two-year-old 10 days ago who dislodged him unceremoniously.

So, next week Shaw will begin a temporary new assignment. “I’m going to take Patricia’s book for a while,” he said.

A final note on Lund and her stressful final trip from Phoenix:

She and her 75-year old mother, Mary Lou, made the journey together. “We are a praying family,” Lund said.

So, she contacted sisters in Oregon, Idaho and Phoenix and her dad in Idaho and asked for their spiritual assistance. “They prayed me in,” Lund said.

TRIMBLE DIDN’T QUIT

Trimble won the second race on the card in addition to the first, riding Patriate for Bob Johnson. She laughed when told a pressbox wag had announced after race two that the jockey race was over for the season.

“I like that,” she said.

STEVENS TOUGH AS EVER

Many of his friends thought his racing days were over last year after serious injuries sidelined Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens. Not a chance.

Stevens had a solid meet last winter in Phoenix and got his first winner of the Canterbury meet in race four Friday, guiding front-running Limo, trained by David Van Winkle, to a photo-finish win over Bobble Doit and Dean Butler in a thrilling stretch duel.

Stevens had no doubts that he had won, crediting Limo for his tenacity. “He wasn’t going to let that horse him pass,” he said.

Several Canterbury observers were in agreement upon seeing Stevens for the first time this season: He looks as good as he has in years.

PHOENIX HORSES, TRAINERS HOT ON A WARM EVENING

Joshua’s Journey got the ball rolling for horses shipped in from the Grand Canyon state. He was saddled by Lund. Eurasian, owned and trained by Turf Paradise trainer Doug Oliver, won the third race. “I don’t know if it’s good luck or bad to win on opening night,” Oliver said. “But it sure takes the pressure off.”

Limo kept the ball rolling. He ran at Turf Paradise and is trained by Van Winkle, a regular in Phoenix.

LONGSHOTS PAY BIG

The first big winner of the evening was in race five. Go Go Jill, ridden by Carlos Castro, trained by Tony Rengstorf and owned by Curtis Sampson, was a clear winner in race five at 24-1.

The card wound up with another big winner. Cherryful Lady, owned and trained by Luis Canchari and ridden by Jose Rivera, Jr., closed the first card of the new season with a win at 16-1.

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.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

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