Rodney Miller has owned around 120, perhaps 130 horses since he bought his first thoroughbred in the late 1980s. In the time since, he has watched the racing industry crash and rise again Phoenix-like with the arrival of the Sampsons in the mid 1990s and now with the Mystic Lake agreement.
He has seen much during the last quarter century, but he has never had nor seen a horse quite like Dear Hrishi (pictured above, purple helmet).
Oh, he has had bigger earning horses, but never one who earned her keep the way this five-year-old daughter of Deerhound does.
Dear Hrishi’s total earnings are $87 short of $72,000 and she’s earned it all running behind winners. That’s right, Dear Hrishi is still a maiden. She’s never won a race and yet her bankroll is approaching SEVENTY-TWO thousand dollars.
Trained by Troy Bethke, she has run 31 times, finished second 11 times and third eight. She is 0-4-6 in 17 starts at Canterbury Park, an unusual money-making feat to say the least.
“I’ve never had one like that,” said trainer Dave Van Winkle. “It is unusual.”
“No, I haven’t had one either. I wouldn’t want one like that,” mused trainer Bernell Rhone.
Trainer Mike Biehler hasn’t had a Dear Hrishi either. “The other day someone asked the owner what he’d do if the horse ever wins a race,” Biehler cracked. “He said he’d fire the jockey.”
That line was provided by HBPA president Tom Metzen, who has joined forces with owner Jack Walsh to heckle Miller every chance they get.
“Every time they see me at the track they’ll ask if my ATM machine is running that night,” Miller said. “They always give me a lot of crap.”
It doesn’t end there, either.
Miller was asked the other day why he doesn’t run the horse more often, maybe once a week as Dougie Huntington used to do. “One fellow suggested that I should run her on a Thursday and then come right back with her on Sunday,” Miller said.
Dear Hrishi is special to Miller for reasons other than her unique approach to money-making. He bred and foaled her, and she might be the last. “I’m 68 years old,” he said simply.
Whatever happens down the road, he seems to be enjoying this special time with this special mare, one of 15 horses he has this season.
“She’s a real hard trier. She tries hard every time she runs,” he said. “She would have more starts but a couple of (injuries) sidelined her.”
Miller has never had another horse earn its keep in this manner. “For a maiden, it’s phenomenal,” he said. “I can’t get too mad at her. Her last five starts have all been seconds.”
A horse of Dear Hrishi’s type lands in a trainer’s barn once in a lifetime if at all.
Percy Scherbenske has one right now in Chicago, Smokem Gray, owned by Jack Guggisberg of Burnsville. “He broke his maiden around the first of July at Arlington,” Scherbenske said. “He was close to $75,000 as a maiden and is now close to $100,000. Never had one like him before. He’s just a money-making machine.”
Dear Hrishi is running in Friday night’s fifth race, a six-furlong maiden special weight affair offering $25,600.
Against all that is sacred in racing, against all of our inclinations to the contrary, let’s keep our fingers crossed and root for her to finish second.
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.
Photo Credit: Coady Photography