Jockey Eikleberry wins twice on MN Festival of Champions Night
Love the Nest, a 2-year-old colt trained by Joel Berndt and owned by Robert Lothenbach, powered to an impressive 7 1/4 length victory in Wednesday’s Northern Lights Futurity, one of six $100,000 statebred thoroughbred stakes on Minnesota Festival of Champions Night at Canterbury Park. Love the Nest broke quickly from the gate under Ry Eikleberry and battled between horses through a fast 21.66 second first quarter mile. The prohibitive favorite took control at the quarter pole and discouraged Doctor Oscar, second in the wagering at 5 to 2, who moved in from off the pace. The well-regarded colt pulled away in a final time of 1:10.27 for six furlongs.
“When he broke so clean I was very confident,” Berndt said, “and then turning for home I saw Oscar on the outside and I thought it’s a horse race. Very happy he kept on and it looks like he can go a little further.” Love the Nest paid $3.20 to win. “He’ll be a nice 3-year old,” Berndt said, not yet willing to commit to another race this year.
Eikleberry also rode Drop of Golden Sun to a win in the $100,000 Crocrock Sprint
Championship, this time coming from five lengths back. He passed pacesetter Mr. Jagermeister in deep stretch to win by 3/4 length. Drop of Golden Sun is owned and trained by Tony Rengstorf. He paid $11.00 to win.
Mac Robertson added to his record 37 Festival victories by winning two more, both for owner John Mentz of Lakeville and both with Roimes Chirinos aboard. Cinco Star won the Blair’s Cove Turf Championship by a length and a half and Clickbait the scratch-depleted three-horse Bella Notte Distaff Sprint by 9 3/4 lengths. Each was a prohibitive favorite with Clickbait paying $3.20 and Cinco Star $3.40.
The stakes portion of the 12-race card began in the fifth race with 2-year-old She’s My Warrior racing gate to wire under Alonso Quinonez. She’s My Warrior is trained by Tim Padilla who co-owns the filly with Pete Mattson of Prior Lake. Breaking from the rail, she jumped to the lead, was challenged by favorite Honey Bella, but quickly increased her advantage, in the end winning by 3 3/4 lengths. “We weren’t going to get trapped down there behind other horses,” Padilla said after the race.
Rush Hour Traffic provided a mild upset in the Princess Elaine Distaff Turf Championship. Unchallenged for the lead, the 4-year-old filly went gate to wire with Ruben Fuentes riding for trainer Gary Scherer and owner Sugarland Thoroughbreds LLC. She returned $12.60. Ready to Runaway, trained by Robertson, finished a nonthreatening second.
“She’s a strong filly,” said Scherer who did not expect Rush Hour Traffic to go to the front. “Once she broke good [Fuentes] was committed to stay just stay where he was at. It worked out well.”
The card concluded with the $62,900 Minnesota Quarter Horse Futurity and the $60,550
Minnesota Quarter Horse Derby. Jason Olmstead trained the winning favorites of both races. In the Futurity, Olmstead trainees finished first through fourth with Relentless Courage a length the best. Luis Valenzuela rode for owners Paul Luedemann and Tom Maher. In the Derby, Jess Rocket Man was simply too much, covering 400 yards in 19.870 second, winning by 1 1/4 lengths over Western Reserve. Edwin Escobeo rode the winner for Lunderborg LLC.
Total handle was $1,884,984, the second largest total in the 28 renditions of the Festival of Champions.