By JIM WELLS
The paddock is always a special place before a stakes race. Big or small, these races bring out the competitive spirit in owners, trainers, riders and the horses themselves.
Thus was the case on Monday before the $35,000 Honor the Hero Turf Express.
Doug Oliver, who once trained Honor the Hero, had Bobadieu, a 10-1 morning line pick and 6-1 choice by the fans.
Oliver was feeling special on Memorial Day because he, too, is a veteran _ of the Viet Nam war.
He and his wife, Elaine, were dressed in the red colors of their stable. Two places down in the paddock, in the No. 8 assignment, was Chasin Mason, a 6-year-old mare owned and trained by Steve Erban and family members Dorothy and Mason. Steve Erban was dressed in his customary sky blue sports coat for the special occasion. Take a guess on the naming of this horse.
No matter where you looked, the paddock bore small signs of racing pageantry.
At the wire, after a furious stretch rush in the five-furlong dash on the grass, Moralist, a 4-year-old gelding trained by Tammy Domenosky, ridden by Jose Ferrer and owned by Miracle Logistics, Inc. of Lakeville, pushed a head in front of Talk Circuit, with A.J. King in third. Bobadieu was fourth.
“I thought he’d (Moralist) get there,” said Domenosky, for whom the stakes win was the first at Canterbury. “Jose’s a good rider. The horse broke bad, but Jose just stayed there and waited. He had to come out wide but he finished strong.”
A side note: Moralist and Talk Circuit are nominated to the Claiming Crown on July 25.
Bill Koska of Lakeville, Greg Peterson of Coon Rapids and Stan Krupke of St. Francis are the owners of Miracle Logistics, Inc., and of Moralist.
Domeonsky picked out the horse for them, dependent upon their approval. “We checked out about 10 of them and she just wasn’t really happy with nine of them. She saw something about this one.”
Still, there were obstacles to overcome. Things were so bad at one point, Peterson said that he’d bet whether they horse would fall or not coming out of the gate.
That was a stretch, of course, but there was a world of difference between the horse at Hawthorne Park last January and the one the owners saw in March after after several weeks rest.
“I don’t know what Tammy did with this horse during that time, but it was magic,” said Kroska.
Domeonsky claimed the horse at Hawthorne for $10,000 last October. After his comeback at Hawthorne March 8, Moralist won twice and finished second in most recent outing, on April 19.
“I didn’t do much but rest him,” Domenosky explained about the improvement. “We walked him a lot and let him start feeling good again. I think that’s all it was. He just needed a break.”
AN EYE FOR A WINNER
The race wasn’t anything special, a maiden claiming affair at six furlongs for Minnesota-bred fillies and mares. The purse was $9,920.
Maiden claimers are among the commonest equine flesh at a racetrack, but there was something uncommon about the winner of race No. 2 on Monday.
Bobbi Jo’s Hope, a 4-year-old filly by Captain Bodgit from the Clever Trick mare Freeway Trickster, was born with one eye.
“Her rail eye,” explained trainer/owner Kevin Danger.
Danger and co-owner Jim Denney of Stillwater were cautioned about making a race horse out of the filly, but are glad now they did.
“Having only one eye never bothered her,” Danger added. “She knows how to compensate for it.”
When Bobbi Jo’s Hope needs to survey her surroundings or size up something on the left side, she simply cocks her head and takes a look with her functioning eye.
“She was born with one eye and doesn’t know anything different,” Danger said. Bobbi Jo’s Hope did require some surgery, however. She didn’t have a left eye but she did have a tear duct that operating and needed to be removed.
Danger not only believed in this filly, he named it after his daughter, a recent graduate of UW-River Falls.
Bobbi Jo’s Hope validated her owners’ efforts and faith on Monday, winning in her third attempt.
ORANGE IN THE PINK AGAIN
The orange shirts of the Will Carlson and Jerry Pint Stable were in the winner’s circle for the second time this weekend.
Couple Whiles, trained by Bernell Rhone and ridden by Dean Butler used a stretch burst to overtake pacesetting Fabulous Babe, the 4-5 favorite, in a 7 ½ furlong allowance race on the grass.
Couple Whiles, second choice at 5-2, is an eight-year-old mare by Storm Creek, and won for the fourth time on the Canterbury turf in 12 starts.
The winner’s circle was filled with orange shirts afterward, worn by the mare’s backers. Carlson and Pint resumed the practice of distributing shirts in their stable’s orange colors last season to backers of their mare.
A COUPLE OF LEFTOVERS
There were still a handful of cars parked in the acreage north of the stables on Monday, leftovers from Sunday’s big rap/hip-hop concert.
The concert drew a turnout of 15,000 and 2,500 from that number bought tickets that entitled them to a party in the grandstand after the races.
Clearly, there were revelers who reveled too much and needed to retrieve their autos at a later, more appropriate time.