BY JIM WELLS
There are countless stories to tell when Paul Nolan is at the center of a discussion, but race fans seldom tire of the tale regarding the 1997 Lady Canterbury Stakes and the longshot K Z Bay.
She paid $67.80 to win and anyone who cashed in that afternoon can provide details that include temperature and barometric pressure at race time.
For those not aware of the occasion, K Z Bay was named Canterbury’s Horse of the Year, and her trainer, Bob Ryno, never tired of telling the story of the roadhouse bar in his hometown of Wall, S.D., where a fellow put his head through the ceiling jumping on a table while watching the town’s favorite daughter win.
Sunday afternoon was Leg Up Day in support of injured jockeys at Canterbury Park, and Nolan, confined to a wheelchair since an accident at Will Rogers Downs in April of 2017, was in attendance to help support the cause.
Money was raised to help injured riders in a variety of ways that included a silent auction, donations and a raffle.
Midway through the day, trainer Francisco Bravo stopped to talk with Nolan, who rode for him at one time, and added another story to the Nolan book, which picked up a chapter earlier in the afternoon, during the bouncy ball competition.
“I sold Paul a horse one time,” Bravo said. “We took him out on a trail ride one day and Paul rode him with a western saddle.”
“Yeah,” Nolan added, “and he turned all pink in front from the chest shield rubbing against him.”
The horse’s name was Chico Bandito and he raced a few days later, winning under Nolan.
“We had to paint that area of the horse that was irritated to cover up the pinkness,” Bravo recalled.
The trail ride, as Nolan recalled was memorable, too. Chico did a bit of jumping that afternoon, over some fallen trees.”
The race a few days later was the last of Chico’s career, and Nolan owned him until his death. “It’s the only time a trainer was hoping for a horse to finish second,” Bravo said jokingly. He had promised to buy jackets for the stable help if Chico won.
Nolan recalls another element to the race. As he was galloping out, his horse was spooked by a white horse that flashed past, crossed its legs in front and sent Nolan crashing to the ground. “I hit the ground really hard,” he said.
Determined to appear in the winner’s circle, he declined offers for an examination. “I was coughing up blood when I got to the jockey’s room,” he said. A month later he was walking down the stairs at home and suddenly told his wife Sherry that he needed to get to the hospital.
He had pneumonia, had broken some capillaries and had an infection.
Earlier in the afternoon, following qualifying races for the Gopher State Futurity, a number of jockeys competed in the bouncy ball competition, riding an inflated ball as if it were a horse. Jared Loveberry was the winner in a photo finish over Quincy Hamilton.
“I introduced that here,” Nolan said, recalling that he and his brother Pete and sister Fiona played a version of the game at home in England in which they referred to the bouncy balls as space hoppers.”
GOPHER STATE FUTURITY TRIALS
Ten horses qualified in four trial races for the $72,000 Gopher State Futurity, scheduled August 11.
Trainer Clinton Crawford led the way, qualifying five horses from his barn. Jason Olmstead and Patrick Swan qualified two apiece and Vic Hanson, one.
For leading quarter horse owner Brenda Reiswig there was some equine family history attached to Royal Cash Flash’s win in the third trial, with a time of 17:74, fastest in the trials.
Royal Cash was foaled by Seis the Royal Cash, the winner of the Futurity in 2013.
Mason Lincoln, assistant trainer to Crawford, his father-in-law, took care of matters on Saturday and was shaking his head a bit after Relentless Candy qualified for the final, winning the final trial in 17:97.
“We were worried,” he said. “The first three winners won from the No. 8 hole. We had the rail…that worried me.”
Although the winners from outside posts were sent off the favorites, it was easy to understand Lincoln’s concern. Did they have something else going for them on the outside ? Was there something about that part of the track; did it favor horses running in that lane ?
He gave Relentless Candy credit for “putting it all together today.”
And he might have gone a step further, except for that No. 1 post she drew.
“I would have played her if it hadn’t been for that No. 1 hole,” he said.