The question, of course, concerned Badge of Glory, the most accomplished horse in the $75,000 Minnesota Oaks on Saturday. Could she stretch her talent to a mile and 70 yards, quite the reach for a proven sprinter yet to race more than six furlongs.
She did it easily, despite getting her heels clipped heading into the first turn. She could have gone even further and won.
She was on the lead to the turn where Sweet Tango clipped heels with her and she dropped back to third, recovered and put herself in command again.
It was really her race from start to finish. She was much the best. There had been no reason for concern, but, like doting parents, horse owners worry just the same.
“We didn’t know if she could go that far,” said owner Cheryl Sprick. “Then she clipped heels,” said Richard Bremer, the other half of the owner team.
In spite of the incident, Badge of Glory might have won by even more, except…
“After she passed everyone she started easing herself up,” said winning rider Scott Stevens, who has been on Badge of Glory for her four career wins, including the Northern Lights Debutante and the Frances Genter Stakes, an achievement only two others have accomplished, Chick Fight (2008) and Samdanya (1997).
She hit the wire 1 ¾ lengths in front of Sweet Tango and 6 ¼ in front of B J’s Angel in 1:46.16 for the mile and seventy yards.
$75,000 MINNESOTA DERBY
This race was a tossup but Lil’ Apollo, trained by Randy Pfeifer, owned by Alice Theisen and ridden by Dean Butler, turned it into a one-horse race.
The winner took charge in the stretch drive and simply left six rivals eating his dust, providing Pfeifer with his first stakes win and the Theisen family with much to celebrate, perhaps even a short vacation for Alice.
This was an all-Albany win.
Albany is home to Pfeifer and the Theisens, who have been in the thoroughbred business for the past 16 years.
“We had a good rider. That helped a lot,” said Theisen, whose daughter, Shaley, was on hand to help celebrate the win.
It played out thusly:
Breaking from the inside post, Lil’ Apollo settled behind six rivals through the turn, began moving down the backstretch and came into the turn four wide to take command at midstretch. He finished 3 ¾ lengths in front of Evert and 12 ¾ ahead of Jantzesfancyfriend.
Pfeifer, who also saddled his own horse, Stormy Bull, who finished last, felt his confidence grow at the 3/8 pole. “We were running easily and everybody else had dinged up their engines pretty good,” he said.
Theisen is an over-the-road trucker who makes frequent trips to the West Coast and Northwest U.S., putting on plenty of miles in a month. Lil’ Apollo’s win just might provide her with a respite at home on the ranch in Albany.
“I don’t know, I just might take a couple of weeks off,” she said.
Why not. Lil’ Apollo, who paid $16.40 to win, picked up a check for $45,000.
And he only had to travel a mile and 70 yards, right, Alice.
Handle Records Fall on Thursday and Friday
A Thursday night import handle record was set on Thursday when $646,399 was wagered on the 10-race card through various out-of-state racetracks and online wagering sites. The previous Thursday record import of $634,407 was set August 12, 2004 when nine races were offered.
As if that wasn’t good enough, Friday night’s total off-track handle of $473,189 set a Friday night record besting the previous record of $463,455 which was set on August 3, 2007.
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.