Pineapple Joe wasn’t supposed to be on the lead in Sunday’s sixth race, but there he was at the front of six rivals out of the gate, down the backstretch and at the top of the lane.
Trainer Coty W. Rosin, who told the horse’s rider, Tracy Hebert, to keep the horse close never expected a frontrunner.
“He had never shown speed,” Rosin said. “When I saw that I just kept saying, come on wire, come on wire.”
Hebert has a reputation as one of the best riders anywhere for getting a horse out of the gate, putting a horse on the lead who doesn’t belong there and then getting that horse to finish.
That’s exactly what he did with Pineapple Joe, a 6-1 outsider, to give Rosin his first professional win as a trainer.
“Tracy’s among the top 10 percent. Scratch that. Among the top 10 in the country out of the gate,” said his agent, Chuck Costanzo.
The win was the third on the card for Hebert, who has introduced himself to the Canterbury Park crowd in impressive fashion this spring.
Canterbury’s patrons got their only previous look at Hebert last Aug. 2 when he arrived to ride Quiet Queen _ the winner of the Lady Canterbury on the afternoon of the Claiming Crown races.
Kentucky fans were familiar with him long before.
Hebert was the leading rider for the racing season three times in Kentucky, beating perennial champion Pat Day each time.
Hebert had to stop to recall the dates on Sunday. “It was…1993, 1997 and 1998,” he said, hesitatingly. “Yeah, 1993, 1997 and ’98.”
Presque Isle’s loss has become Canterbury Park’s gain this spring, and Herbert couldn’t be happier with the transition.
Hebert, a journeyman rider with a solid reputation, didn’t catch on at Presque Isle. He arrived with days to serve and wasn’t able to get more than a mount or two when he started riding again.
“I didn’t get it,” he said. “It just wasn’t working out.”
Then he got a call from Costanzo at Canterbury Park. “He told me he had lots of horses and I decided to give it a try, ” Hebert said.
So far, so good.
Costanzo met Hebert, now 46, in 1989 on the backside of the Fairgrounds in New Orleans. “I was a green gallop boy willing to ride for free to get a job,” Costanzo said. “Tracy was already among the top of the Fairgrounds riders. “He showed me how to break horses from the gates. Like I said, he’s one of the very best at it.”
Hebert arrived at Canterbury Park with 3,241 career wins, 2,795 seconds and 2,552 thirds from 22,486 mounts, with total earnings of $40,155,698.
“He broke the record for wins at Delta Downs in 2007. That’s a tough, tough meet with mostly Cajun riders,” Costanzo said. “He’s been the leading riding at 27 meets during his career.”
He’s given every indication he’ll contend for another in Shakopee. His three wins on Sunday moved him into second place with eight, behind Dean Butler.
“It’s working out. I’m glad I’m here,” Hebert said.
MAC AND JAMIE SHOWED HIM THE ROPES
Coty Rosin wanted to start Pineapple Joe a week ago, but the horse was sick the night before the race so he scratched him.
“He didn’t eat up the night before, so I didn’t want to run him. Then this race came up, so I tossed him in.”
Not pushing a sick horse was something Rosin learned from Mac Robertson during the half dozen years he worked in his barn.
“I’ll give him credit for that,” said Rosin, 22. “He treats his horses well. You’ll never see the ribs on a horse he trains. He’ll never run a horse that’s not sound or has an injury of any kind.”
Rosin spent the last two years working out of the Jaime Ness barn and picked up additional training there.
He has had his trainer’s license a mere 2 ½ months and got his first win on Sunday with the ninth horse he’s saddled. “I had a second, a third and a fourth. Now a win,” he said.
Resin grew up around horses in Wautoma, Wis., and helped his dad, Tim, at the bush meets and fairs in Wisconsin. He began coming to the races at Canterbury when he was 13.
He and his dad had something to celebrate jointly on Sunday. Coty was the winning trainer in the sixth race. Tim was the winning owner.
HER GRANDMOTHER AND GREAT AUNT WOULD BE PROUD
Dean Butler brought in his second winner on Sunday’s card in the seventh race, a claiming event at 1 1/16 miles on the turf, a six-year-old gelding named Beau Name Sue.
Owner Bev Mjolsness of Red Wing was there to represent herself and husband, Dan, who had another commitment.
Beau Named Sue is by Lakeshore Road from the Blumin Affair mare Blumin Sue.
Blumin Sue was a full sister to Hoist Her Flag, a two-time Horse of the Year at Canterbury Park who was campaigned by Bev and Dan Mjolsness.
A BIG TURNOUT
It was necessary to surround a drink in hand with whatever part of your body was free when walking the first level of the grandstand Sunday afternoon.
It was like picking your way through an obstacle course as patrons swarmed to the mutual windows, concession stands or made their way to the paddock.
A conversation in some parts of the first level was impossible without raising your voice.
Then, as if a tornado inhaled everything and everyone is sight, the level was nearly vacant and whisper quiet at post time of any given race. The obstacle course moved onto the grandstand apron to take in a gloriously sunny, comfortable afternoon. Some sun worshippers applied protective lotion to exposed areas of their bodies. Others, oblivious to the preaching of dermatologists world-wide, stretched out on the apron benches and took in the sun’s fully glory.
Management was looking for a crowd of around 5,000.
Instead, the turnout swelled to 8,179.