BY JIM WELLS
On a damp, cool, uneventful and rather routine Friday evening, the 2011 race meet continued to take shape at Canterbury Park.
The results included a couple of long-priced winners, a couple of gate-to-wire winners and a couple of familiar faces in the winner’s circle for the first time this meet.
The longshot winner of the night was Trust N You, trained by Bruce Riecken, who returned $19 in the fifth race. Don’t Make Me Mad, trained by Roy Bland, actually delighted his backers, returning $14.20 in the seventh race.
Trainer Jerry Livingston was in the winner’s circle after the second race with Bootjack, a 3-year-old colt by Wando who won easily.
Jockey Lori Keith got her first win of the meet, and colleague Patricia Trimble got her first win at Canterbury.
Livingston, who most often has a quarter horse at the end of a shank, found himself in the winner’s circle with a thoroughbred, owned by his wife, Conna, and Susan Armstrong Smith.
“This is good ‘un,” Livingston said. “This is a darn good ‘un.”
Livingston had been saving that remark for some time, having been told the story a few years ago about the Oklahoma quarter horse trainer who saddled a winner during Canterbury’s first meet for the breed in 1986.
Asked afterward for the lowdown on the horse, the trainer said, “He’s a nice horse.”
Asked if he could expand a bit on that rather terse comment, the trainer said, “he’s a real nice horse.”
Livingston bought Bootjack in the training sale in Shakopee last year. “I paid $2,500 for him,” he said. “He’s going to get better.”
He might even turn into a real darn, good ‘un.
Lori Keith came from off the pace with Hammers Bullet to win the sixth race, a six-furlong dash for $10,000 claimers. The win was the first of the meet for her.
“It’s good to get the meet started with a winner for Clay (Brinson),” she said.
For the second year in a row.
Keith got her first win of the 2010 meet aboard Pyote, trained by Brinson and owned by Terry Hamilton. Same trainer. Same owner.
“Yeah, I guess you can call that a connection,” Keith said behind the hint of a grin.
Although it rained only slightly in Shakopee Friday night and had quit by 6 p.m., the turf course had taken plenty of moisture in recent days, so the first grass races of the season were moved to the dirt.
The first of those, Friday’s third race, lost three horses from a 10-horse field. Not affected by the switch to dirt was Zee Are One, who found the winner’s circle for the first time, in his 15th start. That, despite a decided preference for grass, according to his trainer, Bernell Rhone.
‘He’s a synthetic horse,” said Rhone, “and would have preferred the turf.”
Trainer Gary Scherer was watching the fourth race on a television set on the main level of the grandstand and thinking out load as the race unfolded. “I hope my old horse doesn’t beat me here,” he said.
Scherer was referring to Nokomis, a 5-year-old daughter of Roaring Fever who was claimed from him last winter at Hawthorne Park.
At that juncture Nokomis was more engaged than Scherer’s current charge in this particular race, Five Nations.
No one was quite as engaged at the point as So Divine, a four-year-old filly by In Excess trained by Red Rarick and ridden by Derek Bell. So Divine had led the way from the first jump.
Five Nations, with Juan Rivera up, made a bold bid inside the final 1-16th to run down the leader, but Bell had lulled the field to sleep with pedestrian fractions and had enough horse in reserve to win this one, gate to wire.
It was that kind of night for Senor Scherer, whose horses finished second in the third, fourth and fifth races. Well, some times you have to be thankful for bits and pieces.
After all, Nokomis did run out of the money.