Charette-Hill, the top quarter horse trainer in Shakopee this meet, repeatedly falls short of ways to describe what she thinks of Canterbury Park and how she would like to recommend that the rest of the country’s racetracks take a cue.
Charette-Hill brought a stable to Canterbury Park for the first time this year, and she left with the first trainer’s title of her career, hard to believe in view of the way she devoured the competition the entire meet. Yet, for the first time since she began training in 1989, she won more races than any quarter horse trainer on the grounds.
“Oh, yeah, that’s the first one I’ve won,” she said. “Ever. But I brought in a bunch of fresh horses that didn’t run a whole lot at Remington Park. I brought some nice horses.”
As if the competition didn’t notice.
Trainers who’ve been based here for years were shaking their heads early at Charette-Hill’s success. Everything she sent out at one juncture came up a winner or just missed. She saddled 37 horses for the meet and produced 19 wins, 11 seconds and four thirds with total earnings of $286,536.
“I never dreamed that I would do that good,” she said.
That was seven more wins than the second-place trainer, Amber Blair, who will saddle a horse on Monday in the biggest quarter horse race of the year, the All American Futurity. Blair had 12 wins, 14 seconds and 10 thirds from 80 starts during the meet..
Charette-Hill’s success transferred directly to the jockey who had first call in her barn, Jorge Torres, who claimed the riding title with 20 wins, three more than Stormy Smith, in his first year as a jockey.
“It couldn’t happen to a better kid,” said Charette-Hill. “He’s a good person, a family man with good values. Doesn’t drink, smoke or use drugs. He has his head on right.”
Charette-Hill was impressed with Canterbury Park the day she arrived. “There were people in our barn helping us set up,” she said. “I’ve never been to a racetrack that offers you that kind of help. I couldn’t believe it.”
That was only the start. With each passing day, her fascination with Canterbury Park increased. “I love that place,” she said. “It’s very well run, so professional. I think some of the other racetracks I go to need to visit Canterbury and learn something.”
It was not only the manner in which Canterbury operates that caught Charette-Hill’s attention.
“What really amazes me is that you walk out on the apron and there are hundreds of people. It’s packed full nearly every night.”
The only shortcoming to Charette-Hill was the shortage of races for quarter horses. “If they had one more a day, say, three a day instead of just two it would be great,” she said. “It’s hard to go someplace with 20 nice horses and only have two races a day.”
Even three a day might not be necessary.
“No, maybe three races a day on weekends would do it,” she said. “Two during the week and three on weekends.”
That settles it. Two races on Thursdays and Fridays, three on Saturdays and Sundays…and a new edition of the Webster’s Collegiate Edition for Christmas.
Pressbox impresario Jeff Maday had a bang-up day with Saturday’s card, picking six of eight winners. He was shooting for win number seven in race eight, but Lil’ Gizmo, with Martin Escobar up, beat G G’S Silent Revenge and Alex Canchari to the wire to provide trainer Jerry Cole with his only win of the meet.
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.