CASH CARAVAN STAKES
Trainer Jerry Livingston told jockey Ry Eikleberry in the paddock late Sunday afternoon that he was riding the winner in the $20,000-added stakes even though he wasn’t certain of it himself.
Eiklberry, the quarter horse riding champ this meet, listened but didn’t buy it.
“I really didn’t think he had a prayer in here, to be honest,” said Eikleberry.
Deep down, Livingston thought Sociabull’s chances were probably slim.
“I didn’t think this horse would win, but I thought he would run his best race this summer,” Livingston said.
And that was good enough to nose out Okey Dokey Irish for first place. Stone Cold Roller, the winner of the Cash Caravan last year, ran third.
One horse, First Class Smarty, was Livingston’s chief concern.
“I thought he could beat the other horses in there,” Livingston said, “but I didn’t think he could beat that one.”
First Class Smarty, trained by Ed Ross Hardy and owned by Rodney Von Ohlen of Alpha, Minn., has earned an impressive $115,000 but he finished off the board on Sunday.
The winner’s owner, Jim Olson, vice president of the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Assn., was at a lake up north, as they say in Minnesota, and missed the race.
“I’ll be talking to him in a little bit,” said Livingston, who will leave Canterbury on Tuesday morning, make a brief stop home in Kansas and then head to Sunland Park in El Paso, Texas.
Eikleberry will leave for Phoenix on Tuesday and begin working horses almost immediately in preparation for the meet at Turf Paradise starting Sept. 30.
For the most part, horsemen and jockeys have already planned the next stage of their seasons and are eager to head out to whatever locations await them.
Derek Bell, the only six-time riding champion in Canterbury history, will be in his truck early this evening and en route to Hoosier Park in Anderson, Ind., even after a long day at the races. “I’ll be too wound up to sleep anyway,” he said.
Bell’s family home is in Anderson and he hopes to arrive in time to escort his daughter, Hailey, to the bus for kindergarten. “She’s been in school two weeks,” he said.
Bell couldn’t be happier with winning his second straight title and a record sixth. “I never thought it would happen,” he said.
He didn’t have to wait until closing day _ like some winners have in previous seasons _ to wrap this one up. It was in the bag a couple of weeks ago..
“I had a good year,” he said. “I got lucky and got some good stock and people put their faith in me.”
And why not, despite a cloud of uncertainly hanging over his career the past two seasons. The FBI is still investigating suspicious betting patterns and possible fixed races in 2005 at now defunct Great Lakes Downs in Michigan. Bell and six other riders were ordered out at Tampa Bay Downs on Dec. 19, 2006 when the investigation began.
Racetracks are at liberty to make their own decisions on the matter while the investigation continues. Several tracks have barred the riders. Canterbury Park is one of the few where Bell has been allowed to practice his trade. Even with the matter still hanging over his head, he has managed to ride the past two seasons at Canterbury, winning riding titles both times.
Now he is restricted to such other places as Hawthorne Park, Remington Park and Hoosier Park. He prefers to stay close to home in order to be with his family as often as possible. “Remington Park is 12 hours or more away,” he said.
“I’ve already missed two weeks of (Hailey’s) classes. I don’t want to miss more.”
Mac Robertson will be announced today as the leading trainer for the fourth straight season after another commanding performance from his stable. He’ll head to Remington Park, although he wasn’t certain on Sunday when he’ll leave.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I’ve still got a couple (of horses) I need to get rid of.”
Veteran Scott Stevens will head home to Phoenix and will have surgery on a knee to repair a damaged meniscus. He hopes to have that done on Sept. 5 and will head for a brief vacation in Hawaii on Sept. 16. “I should be okay to ride when (the meet at Turf Paradise) begins on Sept. 30.
Jockey Paul Nolan and his wife, Sherry, have tickets for a cruise of the West Caribbean starting next Sunday _ weather permitting. “With the hurricane threat I’m glad we have trip insurance,” Sherry said.
After a brief vacation, Nolan will head to Hawthorne in Chicago and follow up at Sam Houston in Texas.
Trainer Justin Evans will head back to Phoenix in the next couple of days. He wondered on Sunday if his wood shavings were still around after Phoenix was hit with 100 mph winds this week. “I think maybe I’ve bedded some neighbors’ stalls with those shavings,” he said.
Lori Keith will take her tack to Iowa next week for a spell before heading to Hawthorne and then this winter to Tampa Bay Downs after a good meet at Canterbury that included a $50,000 stakes win in the Festival of Champions.
“I started out kind of slowly,” she said, “but then I started picking up business.”
Buckshot, a familiar figure on the backside, is heading out in the next day or two as well. “I’m going home to Colorado,” he said. “I’ll be cuttin’ corn for about a month.”