The dangers associated with race-riding were on full display during the paddock parade prior to the second race on Thursday.
The call had been given for the riders to mount their horses, but when Juan Rivera was given a leg up on Sense of Duty the horse turned the parade into a mini rodeo, first dumping Rivera and then trampling a nearby groom.
In the melee that ensued Rivera injured a knee and Sense of Duty stepped on his opposite leg before cascading into the bushes surrounding the paddock walking ring. Rivera had difficulty walking and was carried to the jockey’s room before being transported to the track’s first-aid room and later to the hospital for additional tests. The groom was treated in the first-aid for a cut elbow and released.
The horses were returned to the paddock, and Alex Canchari, the leading rider at Canterbury, took Rivera’s place on Sense of Duty, who finished fourth in the race, won by 9-1 outsider Friarcracker with Dean Butler in the irons.
Call it bad karma, a freakish circumstance or simply irony of the racetrack, but Canchari’s horse, Schindlers Risk, in the fourth race dumped him on the turn in a route race on the turf. After regaining his breath, Canchari rose to his feet and walked off of his own accord.
The winner of race two, as it turned out, has a bit of wild history himself. His owner, Lorie Michaels, described Friarcracker as a youngster who had only one speed. “Full bore. That’s the only way he knew to run,” she said.
One day at the water trough, an older mare took issue with the young colt and kicked him in the face, breaking his jaw. “He settled down quite a bit after that,” Michaels added.
And his name? Well he was known as a ”firecracker” as a youngster in the barn, but as a son of Holy Bull, the name Friarcracker seemed to fit perfectly.
Friarcracker, clearly not affected by the paddock drama, ran down the front runners to break his maiden.
So, you now have the derivation of the winner’s name. There were others with interesting tales of their own.
The frontrunner from the gate to the stop of the stretch was a four-year-old gelding named Erin Prairie, and several of his admirers in the perilous paddock were from Erin Prairie or the descendants of people who once lived there.
Erin Prairie is an Irish farming community outside New Richmond, Wis., distinguished by two edifices _ St. Patrick’s Church and cemetery and a watering hole down the road at Erin corners. Appropriately enough, Erin Prairie is owned by Father Jack Donahue, of Erin Prairie stock himself.
Nothing could quite match the name association in race six, however. With a dramatic, thrilling late-stretch drive, a horse named Finishline Fever caught Ella’s Kitten in the final stride. So, a horse named Finishline Fever wins with a finish-line rush for the owners of Last Stand Stable. Trainer Clay Brinson broke into a hearty laugh when those details were laid out for him.
There were other notable results as well. The winner of race five at 14-1, was a 6-year-old gelding from Storm Victory who came out of nowhere to win that race. His name?
You simply can’t make up this stuff.
BY JIM WELLS