Fourth of July

By JIM WELLS

All victories at the race track are welcome. Some are particularly special.

Ask Cam Casby, or Carol Curtis.

Their filly Seasahm produced one of those very special races on Friday, surging to the front in the final 16th under Derek Bell to win the $50,000 Princess Elaine Stakes.

The winner finished a length in front of Sahm Sweetheart and 3 ½ in front of Chasin Mason. The race, at a mile and 1/16 on the turf, attracted eight runners.

“I always want to win a race I’m in,” Casby, a Shakopee resident, said shortly before post-time on Friday. “But winning some races is special, more special than others.”

A short explanation:
Casby and Curtis bred and own Seasahm. They also raced the dam of the winner, Caravel Port, a mare with a star-crossed history.
“I bought her as a yearling,” said Curtis, a resident of Eagan. “She had ankle problems.”
They finally got her to the racetrack. She won an allowance race but had a promising but unspectacular career.
She was retired as a racehorse after getting hit in the eye by a shoe, thrown by another horse in a race. Her future appeared as a broodmare, but it took six years for her to produce three foals, because of the mare-loss syndrome prevalent in Kentucky at the time.
Seasahm has a two-year-old in Kentucky named Shaokatan, her last baby. She died from the colic next to the foal in a field.
So, when her daughter came home first in the Princess Elaine on Friday, Casby and Curtis were elated.
“And be sure to mention our stable manager,” said Casby. “He takes all of the grief and never gets any credit.”
That would be Larry Colburn, Carol’s husband.

HOW TO UPGRADE A QUARTER HORSE

Trainer Jerry Livingston was bantering with owner Terry Reed of Hillsboro,N.D. shortly after the Grade III $27,500-added Great Lakes Stakes on Friday.

It seems that an acquaintance of Reed’s didn’t think too highly of the horses he was racing. “He told Terry he should upgrade his stock,” Livingston said.

Upgrade complete.

Silver Fastback, a 3-year-old sorrel filly Livingston bought privately for his client, made it three consecutive Grade III victories on Friday, all at Canterbury, by outrunning seven rivals to win the Great Lakes under Ry Eikleberry.

“Give him all the credit,” Reed said, nodding toward Livingston. “He found the horse for me and he trains it.”

The winning time for the 440-yard sprint on Friday was 21.885.

Livingston bought the filly privately for $6,250 in New Mexico.

He and Reed had just lost a horse for the same amount in a claiming race.

“I asked the fellow what he wanted for the horse, and he said $7,500,” Livingston said. “I told him I’d give him $6,250 and he had 10 minutes to think about.”

That was last October, and on Friday, Reed, an insurance salesmen in North Dakota, stood in the winner’s circle with the Great Lakes trophy.

“Show your piece of hardware there to that fellow,” a bystander said. “When you do, ask him how’s that for an upgrade.”

HOW TO HELP AN AILING RIDER
Need a racing photo for the game room, or a Fred Stone limited edition canvas lithograph of Secretariat, titled Three Dates with Destiny and signed by the artist and Ron Turcotte, the horse’s jockey?

Or a Trifecta of photos of the 2007 three-year-old Classic winners: Street Sense, Curlin and Rags to Riches, donated by Canterbury rider Paul Nolan?

How about a bat autographed by Joe Mauer and donated by the Twins catcher and family, something to hang above the bar in the recreation room?

And what about that empty corner next to the pool table? How does a photo of Kevin Garnett holding aloft his MVP trophy, a donation from Hall of Fame track announcer Paul Allen sound?

For that matter, maybe you don’t have a pool table. How about adding one to the sports room in the house, a refurbished model donated by Bill and Robyn Lethert?

There are lots of other items: A golf date with KFAN gurus Jeff Dubay and Dan Cole, some fine wine, a barbecue grill complete with Jim Beam steak and barbecue sauce.

The proceeds from this silent auction will go to the Don MacBeth Memorial Jockey Fund, which assists injured and disabled riders. The auction continues through Sunday on the main floor of the grandstand immediately upon entering the front doors.

CONFIRMATIONS, REBUTTALS AND HALF-TRUTHS

Management supplied the pizza to keep the grooms in the barns and ear-plugs for the horses during Thursday night’s fireworks display. No reports of major incidents involving frightened steeds. There was one unsubstantiated report of a minor mix-up, that the pizza wound up with the horses and the ear-plugs with their grooms…….

Just how closely associated are the ups and downs of racing? Sometimes only minutes apart. Trainer Mac Robertson and owner Jerry Myers of Jer-Mar Stable watched breathlessly before slumping with exasperation as Derek Bell got Smoke Baby rolling under a tremendous late rush only to arrive a hair late behind long shot Major Reality and Nik Goodwin in the third race.

In the fourth race, there was a different result accompanied by a different reaction from trainer and owner as Bell and Yappah Do fought off a stretch challenge from Not So Fast Festus and Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens.

In a captivating match-up in the fifth, grass great Paul Nolan put in another fine ride on Secret Lies on the lawn for his next door neighbor, Matt Wiebke, who heads Web’s Gems Stable. Nolan and the eight-year-old mare took the lead from front-running Vala and Juan Rivera and then put a metaphorical stiff arm on them when they dug in over the final strides.

The fifth annual hot dog eating contest went into overtime, and four-time defending champion Paul Gustafson made it five in a row, choking, barfing, heaving and gagging his way to another title. Two competitors dropped out, one from fear and the other because he had too much to eat at breakfast. Speed and weight are the only factors used to handicap this event. Class is not a factor.

A report out Friday said that eating large amounts of watermelon rind creates a Viagra-like effect. Hmmm…are changes imminent in the feeding and breeding of racehorses?

MILLS RECOVERING

Hank Mills, the presiding judge on the board of stewards, is expected to return home on July 13 and continue rehabilitation in Phoenix following a stroke earlier this month.

Mills was stricken earlier this month at his apartment near Canterbury Park and was admitted to St. Francis Hospital in Shakopee. He was transferred later the same day to Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. Mills’ wife, Sally, was visiting at the time of his stroke and was able to summon assistance.

“Thank God she was here at the time,” said Dick Krueger, executive director of the Minnesota Racing Commission. Sally Mills told Krueger earlier this week that Hank’s speech is improving daily but that he still needs help walking. He was originally admitted to intensive care at Methodist and was transferred some time ago to the floor where therapy is conducted at the hospital.

Mills was a steward for the MRC in the late 1990s before taking a full-time position at Turf Paradise in Phoenix. Kruger said he returned to Canterbury as the presiding judge in 2004. He planned to return to Turf Paradise where he is an association steward after the Canterbury meet.

Kruger said that he spoke with Eugene Joyce, the general manager of Turf Paradise about Mills condition. “He was pleased to hear that Hank is coming home,” Krueger said. “Hank was going back to Turf when this meet was over. The people there will take good care of him.”

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