A horse reared up while his rider attempted to mount and then disappeared into the gloaming of the overhead lights with an outrider in hot pursuit and the rejected rider limping toward the sidelines.
The winning rider put on a show as he strode toward the wire, galloping home easily in front of his two opponents, his back straight as a pillar, his seat a picture of riding precision and unity with the horse.
The winner was LeGrand Coby, a Sho-Ban from Fort Hall, Idaho, riding for the Coby team.
Eliminated was Lynwood His Bad Horse, Jr. from Lame Deer, Mont., a member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation. Second was Miles Murray, of the Blackfeet tribe from Browning, Mont. Third was Lil Muncie, also of the Browning Blackfeet.
The second heat of the night went to a repeat winner. Ferlin Blacksmith of the Montana Crow Agency, riding for the Holds The Enemy team, won a heat on Thursday night’s card also.
Second in that heat was Ashton Old Elk, a Crow from Lodge Grass, Mont, and third was Josh Osborn of the Tissidimit team from Fort Hall, Idaho, a Sho-Ban.
Looking ahead to today’s nine-team championship race, Blacksmith, 21, anticipated a competitive finish. “It’s going to be pretty tough out there tomorrow,” he predicted. He expected the Tissidimit, Coby and White Calf teams to present the biggest challenges.
“This will probably end the relays this year for us,” he added with a trace of sadness.
He plans to return home following today’s championship race and then, perhaps, return to the North Dakota oil fields, where he worked last year.
“I can make some pretty good money there,” Blacksmith said, “working the oil rigs. I’ll do that if I can.”
The relay races, as on Thursday’s card, were conducted after the third and sixth races on the card, which presented an interesting sidebar to the season. As recently as a week ago, Dean Butler, the Canterbury riding champion three consecutive years starting in 2009, had a seven-win lead over Alex Canchari, who was serving a suspension at the time.
Just like that, Canchari came roaring back and with a win aboard Russian Dancer in Friday’s first race cut the margin to one.
Butler wasn’t prepared to stand still with his young rival breathing down his neck and claimed that win back in race four with B J’s Angel. Then he added what might have been the coup de grace, winning the final race on the card with L G Suprem, nipping Lookin at Larry and Canchari at the wire.
Butler and Canchari have mounts in each of Saturday’s 10 races.
And so it went, right into the final day of the 2013 racing season, the 69th day of racing.
Mac Robertson claimed another training title, his ninth straight, the most dominating streak in track history. Midwest Thoroughbreds went into the final day of racing with a four-win lead on Al and Bill Ulwelling, who have no horses running on the final card of the season.
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.