by JIM WELLS
Canterbury Park was dressed in pink on Sunday, pink saddle cloths, pink hats, shirts and caps, pink starting gate.
It was Fillies Race for Hope Day, a recognition and benefit for breast cancer. An outrider even colored the white portions of his paint horse a bright pink.
Despite the impact of negative economic forces the past few years, on this particular day it could safely be said that Minnesota’s only thoroughbred/quarter horse race track was truly in the pink.
The nine-race card drew a crowd of 9,368 fans, matched only fillies and mares and included the track’s premiere races for the ladies, the Princess Elaine, Hoist Her Flag and Lady Canterbury stakes.
There was a hat contest for the women and visiting female queens of all sorts: Miss California International, Lindsay Becker of Apple Valley, a journalism student at USC; Miss Minn. Perfect Teen, Gianna Capuzzi of Mahtomedi, and Miss Minn Pefect Jr.; Teen, Sydney Phillips of Elk River.
Horsemen’s bookkeepers Tiffany Leggett and Kelly Thorne along with photographer Beth Seib spent an hour and a half Sunday morning decorating the starting gate for the day’s activities.
Even many of the cowboys at Canterbury were in pink. A pink lady drink was also available. A lone isolated objection was heard at day’s end from a fellow descending the escalator: “This is way too much pink for my tastes,” he said.
The winner of the $50,000 Princess Elaine was Mac Robertson trained Sheso Dazzling, a four-year-old filly by Dazzling Falls from Wa Sarah who won her third straight race, with a late move under Derek Bell to get there in front of Tickleyourfancy by a neck with Tez Savitri ¾ length further back.
The winner was bred and is owned by Eric and Mary Von Seggern and Kurt and Melanie Kindschuh of Wisner, Neb. The race was the first on the turf for the winner, which presented the only question for her owners. “We didn’t know if she’d like the grass, but she had 30 days off and Mac had her ready,” Eric said.
Eric once worked for Kelly Von Hemel and Mary for Clayton Gray. They met at Canterbury Downs, marrying in 1993. “If you’re putting this in the blog, make sure to thank (the late) Bun Colvin, too,” said Eric. “He helped me in so many different ways.”
The $75,000 Lady Canterbury was, much as expected, a one-horse race, with A She’s Adorable, ridden by Irish rider James Graham, an easy winner against her nine opponents.
Graham was at Canterbury Park in 2006 for the Claiming Crown, winning the Juvenile, a memorable day. “That was my fourth stakes win in the U.S.,” he said.
Well, he got another on Sunday. “She’s coming back to herself now,” he said of A She’s Adorable. She responded out there today.”
And how. Under what amounted to a hand ride, A She’s Adorable drew off to a 5 ¾ length win in 1:36 and 2/5, with Silent Candy next and Avenue Sister, another Robertson horse, in third.
The winner is owned by Phillip Maas of Wayzata and trained by Michael Stidham.
Bell and Robertson teamed up for their second stakes win on the card with Mindy Sue, owned by Joseph Novogratz of Eden Prairie, in the $35,000 Hoist Her Flag Stakes.
“I thought she was going to quit on me at the 3/16ths pole,” said Bell. “But I got her outside and she rebroke.”
Mindy Sue, the 7-5, favorite rambled home ¾ of a length in front of Hidden Gold, 1 ½ in front of Bella Notte.
Despite the wilting heat, none of the horses were reported with problems, and the jockeys apparently withstood the elements as well, although they bore signs of the heat and the special day.
The faces of concessionaires, valets, outriders and many of the riders were a bright pink from plying their trade on a brutally warm afternoon with a temperature of 90-plus and humidity levels of 83 to 84 percent.
Paddock handicapper Angela Hermann, dressed in a dazzling fuchsia dress, succumbed to the heat before the seventh race, fainting in the paddock.
She was in the press box after the races, recovering from the ordeal.
Condensation dripped from cooling vents, water pipes and air conditioning conduits in the grandstand, bringing to a mind a recent sign on the side of the Aguave Restaurant in downtown Hudson: Can you believe that gorillas live in this stuff.
Lisa Johnson, Equibase’s eagle eye chart caller, has complained in recent weeks about the conditions in the pressbox, which she found a wee bit chilly. “It’s like a darn meat locker in here,” she’d say.
With the onslaught of heat and humidity, Lisa was not heard to utter a single derogatory word about the conditions the past two days. Her only complaint on Sunday was that with all pink saddle towels it was darn near impossible at times to distinguish one horse from the next.
Unless, of course, the horse was named A She’s Adorable, the class of Sunday’s card.
RIDER OK, NOT SO WITH GEAR
Quarter horse rider Clyde Smith hit the ground in Saturday’s final race after his horse ducked out and then bounced off another horse, unseating Smith with a thud.
Smith was taken to a hospital but was reported in his room on the backside by 3 a.m. It was a costly incident just the same.
Paramedics removed his boots ($200), his pants ($65), his leggings ($30) and the owner silks ($150) by cutting them from his body.
Only his helmet was left unscathed. When asked why the clothing had to be removed as it was, paramedics reportedly said they feared he was having a seizure. Wouldn’t removing his helmet have been the answer in that case, they were asked… without response.
WEEKEND QUOTES, INTERJECTIONS AND OUTRIGHT DENIALS
Perhaps the best line of the past few days came from rider Doug Frink after his track-record win aboard Jess A Runner, who looked shot out of a cannon.
“I thought my gate was the only one that opened,”he said.
Three-three-old Kadyn, daughter of Jason Olmstead and Amber Blair, was camped out in the bookkeeper’s office, where she has what she calls a house under the front desk.
She has watched the Rapunzel movie more than once, including the bit where the heroine of the story whacks an unwanted visitor with a frying pan.
“Would you do that , too?” she was asked.
“I’d try to,” the three-year-old said.