By JIM WELLS
She’s irascible, temperamental, demanding and very fast.
She holds the 5 furlong record at Arlington Park.
She’s Richies Sweetheart and typically anything but sweet, although she demands sweets, mints to be exact, before submitting to the stall, among a host of other idiosyncrasies.
“She can be a handful,” said Vick McCormack, step father to the horse’s trainer, Larry Rivelli.
She can also be tough to catch as she demonstrated Monday afternoon, darting to the front and then daring the field to come get her in the $75,000 Honor the Hero Stakes, a five-furlong dash named in honor of Canterbury Park Hall of Fame sprinter Honor the Hero.
The mare beat the boys for fun in this one, looking for all the world, or at least the large turnout at Canterbury Park, like a true showstopper, finishing in 56.40. She was dominant, finishing 3 ¼ lengths in front of Mongol Bull with Majestic Pride next, another 2 ½ lengths back.
“Oh, she can run when she wants,” said winning rider E.T. Baird. “She beat graded stakes winners for $200,000.”
It was truly a one mare race…literally.
The victory was No. 999 for Rivelli, who won this race in 2006 with a horse named Nicole’s Dream. Baird was the rider in that one as well.
Presenting the trophy were Allen and Lou Burdick, owners of Honor the Hero, and Bryan Oliver, son of Canterbury Park Hall of Fame trainer Doug Oliver, who conditioned the Hall of Fame sprinter but is recuperating from back surgery and wasn’t on hand Monday.
WINSTON A NAME FOR THE AGES
There was Winston Churchill, Winston cigarettes and Winston the winner of three separate heats Monday in the Running of the Bulldogs.
That’s right. Three different dogs. Three named Winston.
But none of them could beat Ozzy when it counted, in the final.
Owned by Tom and Crystal Haus of Minneapolis, Ozzy, winner of Heat No. 1, outdueled the 12-dog field in the finals, including all of the Winstons, to win the championship. Winston of Rogers, owned by Larry and Kristen Tate was second.
The races resembled an ancient ritual as the contestants lined up for their respective heats on Monday. Waddling, well-fed contestants with colors and demeanors well suited to a Renaissance Festival.
The problem for some observers, however, was that many of the runners bore a striking resemblance to one another, their ample chins and girths giving them the appearance of canine versions of Winston himself
Nonetheless, there were athletes among the runners, although even the swiftest possessed the gaits of long-distance runners, even walkers, as opposed to sprinters.
The top three finishers of heat one, in order, were Ozzy, Levi and Isabella, the winner owned by Tom and Crystal Haas of Minneapolis.
The second heat winner was Winston, with Buddha and Moose second and third respectively. A heat winter last year, Winston finished fourth overall for his owner, Liz Johnson of Lakeville.
Dogs bearing the name Winston won the third and fourth heats as well.
TRAINER, FORMER RIDER RECOVERING AFTER SURGERIES.
Oliver is recovering from back surgery in Eau Claire, Wis., and former Canterbury jockey Vicki Warhol is rehabilitating after a spill at Arapahoe Park.
Oliver underwent surgery to fix two discs in his back and is expected back at Canterbury Park soon, perhaps by Wednesday according to his son.
Warhol, on the other hand, had several ribs broken and suffered a punctured lung when a horse she was working bolted and then landed on her. She spent several days in intensive care after the accident.