Boys To Men

By Noah Joseph

Last Sunday, Mr. Jagermeister put together another dominating performance. He won the Crocrock Minnesota Sprint Championship to gain a third straight stakes victory on Festival of Champions Day. And while many people think Mr. Jagermeister may be the best horse to ever come from Canterbury Park, at one time it could have been argued that distinction belonged to his sire Atta Boy Roy.

Atta Boy Roy had a very humble beginning. He was born in Washington and sold for $4,500 to Roy Schaffer’s R.E.V. Racing, who sent the colt to Valorie Lund, who also trains Mr.Jagermeister. Atta Boy Roy broke his maiden at Turf Paradise in Arizona in April 2008 and made his Canterbury debut on Memorial Day that same year, winning an allowance race gate to wire by 11 lengths as the favorite under Scott Stevens. After finishing fifth in two consecutive stakes races in Iowa and Minnesota and second in another allowance race at Canterbury, Atta Boy Roy won again in Shakopee. It would be his last race in Shakopee for a while, but while he was away, Atta Boy became a dominant racehorse. He won his first stakes race at Emerald Downs in his home state of Washington in July of 2009 and competed in his first graded stakes race a month later. After winning another stakes race at Emerald Downs, Atta Boy Roy competed in his first Grade 1 race in the Ancient Title at Santa Anita. And while he didn’t win, Atta Boy Roy was far from finished.

The following year, Atta Boy Roy won his first graded stakes race in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard at 10-1 beating graded stakes winners and future top stallions including Warrior’s Reward, Musket Man, Country Day, and Munnings. Atta Boy Roy then finished second in the Grade 3 Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs en route to several starts in graded stakes company. He even ran in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, in which he finished 10th. Atta Boy Roy continued to run in graded stakes, but he wasn’t the top horse he once was. After an eighth place finish in a Grade 1 at Saratoga, Atta Boy Roy returned to Canterbury to run in the Shot of Gold Stakes on closing day of the 2011 season, winning as the favorite. It would be his last stakes win though, and he retired in 2013.

He went to stud in his home state of Washington that same year. In 2015, he was mated with Frangelica, another horse trained by Valorie Lund. That foal born in Minnesota was Mr. Jagermeister, who is making a name for himself, locally and nationally. It’s fun to see the similarities between Atta Boy Roy, who produced the man Mr.Jagermeister.

Lund is planning to take Mr. Jagermeister to Churchill Downs, the site of his sire’s top performance, for the Grade 3 Ack Ack Stakes on Sept. 28.

Beginner’s Luck

By Mari Ballinger

Despite their name, Beginner’s Luck Racing, they are far from rookies in the racing industry. Derek Drews, John Zobel, John Means, Drew Semenra, Dave Shannon, Joe Scurto, and Jeff Metz all have one thing in common: a love for horses and spending time at the racetrack.

For 25-year-old Drews, his interest in horses first rooted from his grandpa, Ron Essman. It started seven years ago at Columbus Racetrack in Nebraska; Drews would tag along to care for the horses. “It’s just so exciting,” continued Drews. “From seeing the horses in the barns to eventually seeing them cross the finish line- it’s a fun journey. And not to mention, I’ve created so many memories with my family at the track that I will cherish forever.”

Means’ story is a little different, however. The University of Oklahoma alum made his first trip to Oaklawn Park when he was a freshman in college. He walked in, placed a $2 show bet on a horse named Sooner, and ended up winning $3.80. Definitely not the highest paying ticket, but for a broke college student the win was enough to get Means hooked on horse racing.

As for Zobel, the regular attendee of Canterbury College, a course that teaches racing fans how to handicap, and former Canterbury Racing Club member has always sparked an interest in horse ownership. He wanted a more hands-on, exclusive experience so began participating in Minnesota Thoroughbred Association Ownership Seminars to learn more.

Semenra and Shannon, also co-owners, are avid racing fans and reside in Illinois.

And all thanks to Scurto, Beginner’s Luck was created. Scurto is the Executive Director for the Minnesota Racehorse Engagement Project, an organization that provides opportunities for residents to interact with racehorses, both active and retired. Scurto connects groups of people to help their horse ownership experience blossom.

Now, Beginner’s Luck has two horses. Two-year-old filly Angiemeansbusiness and 4-year-old gelding Minister’s Glory, both of which are trained by Jeff Metz.

“These horses are like our kids,” commented Means. “I love going back to the barn to check up on them, maybe give them a little pep talk before a big race.” He chuckled.

“I go to HyVee and buy a huge thing of carrots to bring to the barn,” explains Zobel. “When I walk in, I’m suddenly everyone’s favorite. It’s the little things that make this partnership so fun.”

As the 2019 racing season comes to a close, future plans are in the works for Beginner’s Luck.

Stay together?

“Definitely.”

Own more horses?

“Of course.”

Minnesota Festival of Champions

The 26th Minnesota Festival of Champions takes place tomorrow at Canterbury Park. The special event debuted in 1992 to pay tribute to the Minnesota horse breeding industry, and acts as the unofficial celebration of the Canterbury Park live racing season.

“Festival day is like the Championship game of the season,” said trainer Bernell Rhone, winner of 20 festival races. “You spend all year getting ready for this day, the money is good, and the different categories really help each horse succeed individually. It’s a very special day.”

But, why?

Why is the Minnesota Festival of Champions so memorable to Canterbury Park and its members?

For jockey Derek Bell, it’s all about the competition. “There are a lot of nice horses that day,” said Bell. “I consider myself lucky each time I get to ride on festival day.” Bell is the most winning jockey in Festival history with 24 wins.

“A lot of good riders, trainers, owners and breeders participate in the Minnesota Festival of Champions,” added jockey agent Chad Anderson, who won seven festival races when he was a jockey. “It makes for a very fun and exciting day of racing at Canterbury Park.”

Track announcer Paul Allen loves how it reveals true dedication.  “The day is all about Minnesota. Having been here a quarter century calling races I have a high level of respect, adoration and love for those who have been through the battles to keep racing strong at Canterbury,” he said. “This is a day many of those people get a chance to compete and get paid. It’s our State Tournament for Minnesotans and forever will be my favorite day we present.”

Festival Day will offer record purses this year with each thoroughbred stakes race, and there are six of them, worth $100,000. The quarter horse Futurity and Derby will each pay more than $55,000.

It’s more than the money, though. The Minnesota Festival of Champions was created to send a message to the Minnesota horse industry and the owners of the state’s only pari-mutuel facility; the message that there is still a market for horse racing in the state.

“When the first Festival took place in 1992, it proved that there was still an interest in horse racing among Minnesotans,” said Clerk of Course Peggy Davis. “It’s always so fun to see everyone at the track enjoying the races.”

As Canterbury Park and the state’s breeding industry continue to expand, the excitement of racing on Festival day continues to grow as well.

Hitting the Right Notte

By Noah Joseph

In horse racing, some horses are well known not just for what they did on the track, but also for what they did off of it, like going on to become a successful stallion, a productive broodmare, or even an equestrian competitor. And at Canterbury, Bella Notte is a prime example.

Bella Notte was a bit of a late bloomer. The daughter of Quick Cut made her debut in 2007 as a 3-year-old, yet only broke her maiden in 2008 for owners Art and Gretchen Eaton. Despite this, Bella Notte was a consistent runner and she finished first or second in her first seven career starts, including a second in the Minnesota Distaff Sprint Championship on Festival of Champions day (which is being held this Sunday), a race she would soon grow accustomed to. In 2009, she won her first stakes race in the Lady Slipper at Canterbury. That same year, she finished third in the Princess Elaine before winning the Minnesota Distaff Sprint Championship for the first time.

Bella Notte seemed to get better with age. As a 6-year-old in 2010, she failed to defend her crown in the Lady Slipper, but scored a victory in the Princess Elaine and won the Minnesota Distaff Sprint Championship again. The following season would be her swan song as she only won one race, yet it was the one that made her famous and put her name in history. She won the Minnesota Distaff Sprint Championship for a third straight year, becoming the only horse to do so. She was piloted to victory all three times by Derek Bell.

Bella Notte retired at the end of 2011 to become a broodmare. She had her first foal in 2016 named Notte Oscura who sold for $160,000 as a 2-year-old. He’s the second most-expensive horse bred in Minnesota to be sold at public auction and is already a winner and stakes-placed just like his mother. He just ran third last Thursday night in Shakopee. Bella Notte’s legacy is also honored through the Minnesota Distaff Sprint Championship which is now named the Bella Notte Minnesota Distaff Sprint Championship. A regal honor for a regal runner.

Grace & Gamblers – Owner Profile

By Mari Ballinger

Grace & Gamblers: named after a lifetime yoga teacher, Julie Welle, and lifetime gamblers, John Miller and Peter Seals.

A stable that is new to horse ownership.

A stable that makes frequent trips to the Winner’s Circle with gelding Satellite Storm.

And let’s not forget, a stable that has three wins out of five starts this year.

Their most recent win took place August 24 at Canterbury Park in the Mystic Lake Turf Sprint. With a purse of $50,000, the owners and trainer Valorie Lund anxiously awaited the outcome. The gelding was away readily from the gate, pulled clear on the turn of the five furlong turf race, and rolled home to win by 2  3/4 lengths.  A successful stakes race for Satellite Storm, a horse claimed for $12,500 in April. He paid $5.20 to win.

“This is a true blessing,” said Seals when entering the Winner’s Circle. “The group we have is so fun and Satellite Storm has been fascinating to watch this season.”

The two other wins came from allowance races, about five furlongs on the turf at Canterbury Park, his initial attempts at grass racing. The first was June 29 with a purse of $30,000. The second Grace & Gamblers win came August 2 with a $35,000 purse. Both wins were identical to the Mystic Lake Turf Sprint win:  gate to wire.

Although their horse ownership together just started this season, Grace & Gamblers obviously know a thing or two about the racing industry.

“I grew up going to the races,” Welle said. “I am from the Twin Cities but my grandfather was from Nebraska.” She often went to AkSarBen Racetrack in Omaha in the summers, a place where her grandfather might have conducted some ‘business.’   “My grandpa was a bookie,” Welle added.

Seals became friends with Welle, a yoga teacher, and her husband Chuck a decade ago. They met during a yoga class.

Seals convinced the couple to go to Keeneland with him a few years back. “Now they make that trip with us every year,” Seals said. “Julie really took to the behind-the-scenes action and they decided that this was the year.” Chuck made ownership a reality via a birthday present to Julie.

As for the ‘Gamblers’ of the group, Seals and Miller are both long-time owners. In 2017, the pair had mare Lookforasmile racing at Oaklawn, Arlington, Hawthorn, and Canterbury. The now 5-year old finished that season with eight starts and two wins.

Grace & Gamblers apparently needs to keep doing yoga and betting, because it seems to be working out just fine for the trio.

A Year In Reflection

By Mari Ballinger

Get this: A jockey’s professional riding debut that also happens to be their first career win. If that doesn’t indicate their riding career is going to be something special, then what does?

It was June 17, 2018, Father’s Day, when Kelsi Harr first rode. She was aboard colt Bandit Point and took over in late stages to prevail under hand urging, keeping her family and friends on their toes while they watched her professional debut. Not only was Harr more than satisfied with the outcome, but also gave the ultimate Father’s Day surprise to her dad, who was cheering her on in the crowd.

It was her dad who originally got her into the industry, buying Harr a horse at the age of five. Harr would spend her days working in the barns, riding horses, and eventually barrel raced at local rodeos. Harr’s mom walked horses at Oaklawn Park so you could say the love for the animal was in their family blood.

Harr has been racing for more than a year and is proud of how far she has come. “I think this past year has been very successful,” commented Harr. “And I’ve also learned so much.”

She finished out the 2018 season with nine starts and one more trip to the Winner’s Circle, this time aboard colt Hard to Park in a maiden race with a $28,000 purse.

To Harr, the lessons learned are just as important as the number of times she crosses through first. “It’s hard to put into words what I’ve learned this past year,” said Harr. “I have more patience, a thicker skin, and I’ve learned that it’s necessary to put the bad races behind you and move on.”

Harr has 127 starts in the 2019 season, but still gets butterflies as she enters the gate. “I’m not nearly as nervous as I was last year, but I still get butterflies before each race. I hope that never goes away,” she added. The butterflies must be good luck, because Harr has five wins at Canterbury Park during the month of August- what an accomplishment for a jockey who hasn’t been in the game for long.

But what’s success without someone to share it with? For Harr, it’s her 7-year old daughter Lacey. “Everything I do is for that little girl,” said Harr with a smile on her face.

Lacey is a big-time animal lover, but her favorite? You guessed it: horses. She loves watching mom race on the weekends and “definitely runs the show”. Lacey starts second grade in the fall, right when Harr plans on traveling back to Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Harr won Friday night at Canterbury Park aboard filly Rosie’s Flower’s going gate to wire on the turf at odds of 12 to 1. Owner Curtis Sampson

and trainer Tony Rengstorf were in the Winner’s Circle to congratulate her and of course, Lacey was there to give her mom a big hug.

 

Indian Horse Relay Racing Returns

BY JIM WELLS

Indian Relay Racing is one of the absolute highlights of summer racing in Shakopee, a spectacle of bare-back riding equal to anything Barnum and Bailey ever offered the curious public.

Not even those circus maestros had anything on the many indigenous peoples of the American West when it comes to entertainment.

Watch this week and you might even see a jockey or two emerge from the subterranean lairs of the grandstand to take in the proceedings from the winner’s circle.

Listen closely if you are near enough and you might even hear one say, largely in awe,  “those guys are crazy.”

Basically, what awaits anyone new to the spectacle is an exhibition of horsemanship not typically found in riding schools or anywhere else for that matter.

When was the last time you saw someone ride three miles on three separate horses, changing from one to the next almost on the fly, and directly in front of the grandstand ?

Maybe last summer, at Canterbury Park.

The upcoming program of relay racing includes an event for women this year, as well. After all, indigenous women in many if not most tribes had an equal and sometimes greater say in matters than their spouses.

The relays are scheduled between regular races on Thursday, Friday and  Saturday, with the winning team crowned in front of the grandstand on the final night.

Here, then, are breakdowns and backgrounds on the participants and their teams, with some notes on tribal histories to boot:

TISSIDIMIT

The Shoshone, located in Fort Hall, Idaho, are believed to be the first Indigenous Americans to obtain the horse. As Spanish explorers infiltrated the West, their horses often escaped and began life in the wild where they created feral herds that transformed Shoshone society.

The mobility of the horse expanded their range to hunt and gather food. Horses enabled them to follow herds of bison with greater range, adding that meat to their diets in more substantial quantities, and animal hide and bone to other cultural and survival needs.

The Shoshone and Bannock peoples share many similar cultural traits as well as land which has included the Paiute in various places, also.

However, their traditional languages are distinctly different. Originally, both peoples were hunter-gatherers, following their food sources with the changing of the seasons.

The Shoshone language includes various dialects, although similar enough that they understand one another.

The Tissidimit team, owned and captained by Lance Tissidimit, represents the tribe and won the Canterbury races in 2017.

ABRAHAMSON

For a background on the Abrahamson relay team, you will first need to memorize the various tribal groups included in the Colville Confederation, located in Washington state.

Here goes: Chief Joseph band of Nez Perce, Palus, Moses-Columbia, Lakes, San Poil, Nespelem, Okanogan, Methow, Chelan, Eniat, Colville, Wenatchi.

Thought you knew something about Western indigenous people, did you.

A frequent visitor to these people in the early 1800s was the Hudson Bay Company, conducting business at Fort Colville where extensive trading took place. The confederation of tribes was formed around the same time. Trading transpired over a sixty-year period with goods such as beaver, bear, fox, muskrat, mink and raccoon.

Many of these people became residents of Canada after a boundary was established between the U.S., in this case Washington, and its northern neighbor.  The Colville people have experienced numerous issues with the U.S. government regarding their reservation land and its agriculture after the construction of electric plants and the Grand Coulee Dam. Many of their crop locations and salmon reserves were destroyed by flooded lands.

The consolidation of so many different cultures created a hodge-podge of languages that has created communication difficulties at times. Jonathan Abrahamson is the owner/captain of the team representing the Colville.

LITTLE BADGER

The Little Badger team might just want to extend a handshake to the fellows on the Tissidimit crew, if they haven’t done so already.

Guess where the Blackfoot got the horse?

From their Southern neighbors, the Shoshone, who were moving north at the time, in the mid 1700s.

Another point about this Montana nation: Blackfoot is the name of one band. Blackfeet is the name of their reservation, the term used by the Federal Government to recognize the tribe.

The terms are used interchangeably, by even the Blackfoot-Blackfeet people themselves.

Various explanations are given for the derivation of the name. French traders, upon observing the blackened moccasins of these people, who walked across acreage blackened by their slash and burn methods, began calling them black foot.

A second explanation concludes that these people hunted the bison, who have black feet.

Watch Chris Carlson during the relays.  He makes great exchanges, from one horse to the next. He is the tall one in the crew.

YOUNG BEAR EXPRESS

This team represents the MHA, Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, that is the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark wintered near these tribes during their Corps of Discovery expedition in 1804, the grand trek westward to the Pacific Ocean. They stayed that winter at Fort Clark, very near the villages of the three tribes. This is also where they acquired the services of Sacagawea, a Shoshone woman, kidnapped as a young girl by the Hidatsa. She helped guide the trip Westward. The Fort Berthold Reservation was created for the tribes by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851. The treaty also granted the three tribes twelve million acres, although the reservation today contains a mere 425,000 acres and of that only a fraction is tribally owned.

This is a new relay team that has experienced several wins this year nonetheless. They are owned and captained by James (Tons Tons) Phelan.  The crew includes Crow teammates who have been helping the cause. Sounds somewhat like an Affiliation, does it not.

LONG FEATHER

This team carries the colors of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation of North and South Dakota, often in the news recently because of their protest against the pipeline they are certain will endanger the Missouri River, the source of their water.

This band was once led by Sitting Bull, the great Hunkpapa Lakota chief whose vision was a foretelling of the tribe’s victory at the Little Bighorn. Standing Rock was once part of the Great Sioux Reservation, a swath of land that was greatly reduced by the Allotment Act and other devious dealings described by the U.S. Supreme Court in its harshest terms as one of the great land swindles in world history.

Richard Long Feather is team owner and captain of this crew, and a man known among his people for his knowledge of horse culture. He also promotes racing on the reservation as a means for helping the young, similar to youth baseball throughout the U.S. He is fluent in Lakota, one of the three dialects among the Sioux people. The others are Nakota and Dakota, the latter familiar to Minnesotans who pay attention to their surroundings as the language of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, the sponsors of the relay races this week.

AWA DAA TEY

Another team from the Three Affiliated Tribes at Fort Berthold, N.D.

A fairly new team owned and captained by Lloyd Vigen, whose two daughters also compete. One of them will ride in the Ladies Maiden Race.

The main rider for the team is Ashton Old Elk, an experienced man on a horse with numerous wins over the seasons.

BAD NATION

Did you see the movie “Wind River,” the murder mystery on the Wind River Indian Reservation ?  It was an example of what has been happening, without much news coverage, on reservations across America, the abduction and murder of Indian women.

This team uses its exposure to highlight an ongoing American tragedy, ignored largely across the country. When this team competes, watch for signs displaying the acronym MMIW, missing and murdered indigenous women.

This team represents the Crow Creek people from Hunkpati, S.D., who are mostly descendants of the Mdewakanton band in Minnesotan. They ended up in South Dakota after being exiled from the state following the  Dakota-U.S. war in 1862. Some of them might have relatives in the areas surrounding the relay races this week, or surely throughout mid and southern regions of the state.  His team had a shot at winning it all at Canterbury last summer.

BREW CREW

Last, but certainly not least, the defending champs, the team that won it all in Shakopee last summer,  a crew comprised of Oglala Sioux from South Dakota.

The captains and owners of the team are Ella and Stanley Brewer.  This team spends a good deal of time recruiting and assisting others who want to participate in relay racing.

Stanley does the mugging for the team, and Sylvan Brown is its rider. The set-up man is Andrew Catches and the back holder is Gilbert Ecoffey.

The Great Rains of 2007

By Noah Joseph

This weekend at Canterbury is a special one. This weekend is when we hold the annual Indian Horse Relay races. In addition to this exciting and brave display of horsemanship, Canterbury will hold three stakes races: the $50,000 Minnesota H.B.P.A Distaff; the $50,000 Brooks Fields Stakes; and the $50,000 Mystic Lake Turf Sprint. These stakes races are on the grass and will hopefully not have to be moved to the main track due to weather. But in 2007, the weekend was one of two that year which felt the pain of the rain.

While the week between August 19th and 24th 12 years ago may stand out, to start this story, we have to travel back to the opening day of the season. That was May 5th, 2007, Kentucky Derby day. A crowd of more than 16,000 fans came to Canterbury to celebrate a new year of racing in Minnesota and the run for the roses at Churchill Downs. And while the sun may have been shining bright on my old Kentucky home, the sun had performed a vanishing act in Shakopee. Dark clouds loomed above as the heavens opened and a storm hit the track. A massive downpour combined with occasional lightning and thunder sent fans scurrying for cover as the horses made their way to the track for the first race of the season. The race was won in the rain and on a sloppy track by the British bred Chasm. The rain did stop eventually and the sun did come out in time for the Kentucky Derby, yet fans who were at Canterbury on that first Saturday in May will not forget it.

Canterbury would once again have to deal with another washout that year, this time on Festival of Champions day. One of the crowning jewels of the season was held on August 19th. While it may have been summer, the weather was more spring-like. A cool 59 degree Sunday afternoon was accompanied by over an inch and a half of rain that fell throughout the card, turning the track into a miniature lake. The turf races were taken off and moved to a main track that had the look of wet cement.

Despite this unkindly act by act by Mother Nature, there were some moments that brightened up that gray day, such as dominating performances from the ladies like Glitter Star and Sentimental Charm and easy victories from the boys like Careless Navigator and Smithtown Bay. This day proved that while nature is powerful, the racehorse, and its ability to thrive in it, is also a force to be reckoned with.

This weekend’s card looks promising weather-wise. It looks to be dry with lots of sunshine Thursday and Friday. Saturday also looks dry for the stakes. Sunday could be wet as there is rain predicted, but no one truly knows yet and meteorologists are as accurate as public handicappers!  Regardless, we can all remember the great rains of 2007.

Chasing The Dream

By Mari Ballinger

They’re the five best friends that anyone could have. Lee Hesselroth, Don Grossbach, Jerry Moser, Gary Jennenke, and Tony Ebert all met through friends of friends, and have since formed a partnership to own horses.

Some of the friendships are new, while others have known each other since youth. In fact, Hesselroth and Grossbach go way back when, as they grew up in Braham, MN together. They both have always enjoyed bringing their families to the track to experience horse racing together. Hesselroth and Ebert met at St. Cloud State University, during their fun days, and have remained close ever since.

Hesselroth has been in the racing industry for 37 years and was present opening day at Canterbury Downs on June 26, 1985. Since then, he has made a lot of racing memories. His favorite taking place at Arlington Park in 1994, one of the years Canterbury had no live racing. Stakes races for Minnesota breds were held that summer at Arlington nonetheless. Filly Afred’s Dream, who Hesselroth bred, was racing in the Northern Lights Debutante with 41-1 odds to win. The 2-year old blew everyone away and ended up winning the race by six lengths. No wonder that race chalks up as Hesselroth’s most memorable moment.

The group’s favorite memories go far beyond winning races though, including:

“I love going to the backside to see the horses train and check up on them,” said Tony Ebert.

“Owning a horse and watching it race is kind of like watching your own kid participate in a sporting event,” said Don Grossbach. “It’s very exciting and rewarding.”

“Definitely not the bills,” joked Lee Hesselroth.

Currently, they own gelding Moment of Magic. He has six starts at Canterbury Park this year, placing first in a maiden claiming race June 21. And, their future plans on owning additional horses? Well, these easy-going guys are going with the flow and have no set arrangements.

Any advice for potential horse owners?

“Buy a fast one,” Greg, a friend of Lee’s, chimed in.

When the friend group isn’t at the race track, some of their favorite hobbies include golfing, curling and biking.

Let’s Talk About Success

By Mari Ballinger

One week. Two racetracks. 24 races. 11 wins. Those kind of statistics can only belong to one jockey, and that is Orlando Mojica.

On August 4, 2019 Mojica raced at Canterbury Park, finishing first aboard Unfailing in a claiming race. Hours later, he was on a flight to Canada to race at Assiniboia Downs in the $75,000 Manitoba Derby on August 5. Again, he finished first. Then it was back to Minnesota to race another four days in a row. Has anyone enrolled this guy in a frequent-flyer program? He finished the weekend off with another nine wins at Canterbury Park, including the Minnesota Derby, Blair’s Cove Stakes, and Princess Elaine Stakes.

Then, he napped.

Mojica’s professional riding career started nearly 20 years ago so he is used to chaotic weeks that sometimes include traveling to multiple racetracks. His dad and brother were both jockeys so there was no question that Mojica would follow in their footsteps. His professional debut was on April 13, 2000 at Garden State Park where he placed second. A few weeks later, Mojica had his first career win aboard mare Partner’s Cilo in a claiming race for $10,600.

At that time, Mojica’s successful career had just started. Since then, he has been in the Top 100 jockeys in the country nine times, ranking 12th by Wins in 2008 and 10th by Wins in 2009. But the accomplishments don’t stop there. Mojica bagged 1,000 wins on April 26, 2008, a short eight years after his debut. Now, that deserves a round of applause.

In life, there are also hardships. Mojica has had his fair share of injuries, including broken ribs, a knee, and lower back. But, he hasn’t let that get him down.

“Obviously riding is very dangerous, but I am very blessed to be doing what I love,” said Mojica. “When something happens, I get right back up.”

At Canterbury, Mojica rides for several barns including the top two trainers, Robertino Diodoro and Mac Robertson, and has 54 wins so far this season. After racing ends in Shakopee, Mojica will travel home to Indiana where he can race and spend time with his family.

Mojica rode in four races Thursday night at Canterbury Park, finishing first in a starter allowance race aboard gelding Jonny’s Choice. He will race here again Friday and Saturday then travel to Canada on Sunday for the Canadian Derby to ride for Diodoro at Century Mile.