Eight stakes races to offer total purse record for 26th running of “State Tournament of Horse Racing”
Each of the six thoroughbred stakes races on Sunday’s Minnesota Festival of Champions program will offer $100,000 in purse money, a record for the event, on a day restricted to racehorses bred in the state. Two quarter horse stakes will also pay record amounts. In addition to the eight stakes, four undercard races are included, all on the turf course, bringing the total purses for the day to $865,000. The Festival is now in its 26th edition. First post is scheduled for 12:45 p.m.
“Breeders and owners are investing in Minnesota horse racing like never before. Increasing the rewards on our most important day of the race meet shows an appreciation for that investment,” Senior Director of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “These Minnesota bred racehorses can compete anywhere in the country but on Sunday they all will be here. Race fans are in for quite a show.”
Last year the Northern Lights Futurity and the Northern Light Debutante saw purses increases to $100,000. For the 2019 Festival the Wally’s Choice Minnesota Classic, Glitter Star Minnesota Distaff Classic, Crocrock Minnesota Sprint, and Bella Notte Minnesota Distaff Sprint each were increased by $25,000 to reach that same level.
“The State Tournament of Horse Racing” was first held in 1992 and was the final day of pari-mutuel horse racing in Minnesota until Curtis Sampson, his son Randy, and South St. Paul businessman Dale Schenian, purchased Canterbury in 1994 and revived live racing in 1995. The Festival of Champions has been a centerpiece of the racing season ever since at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack.
Mr. Jagermeister, the 2018 Canterbury Park Horse of the Meet who has yet to race at Canterbury this year, is entered in the Crocrock Sprint. A setback sidelined him until earlier this month when trainer Valorie Lund shipped the 4-year-old to Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va. to win the $100,000 Chesapeake Stakes on Aug. 17. Jockey Leandro Goncalves, aboard that day, will ride the nine-time winner Sunday in the eighth race for owners, Kristin Boice, Leslie Cummings, and Lund.
“I’m excited to be racing [Mr. Jagermeister] at home,” Lund said “He is very, very sharp considering the long haul out there and the long haul back. He is really training well.”
Mr. Jagermeister, favored at 8 to 5 on the morning line, will face Mister Banjoman, winner of three of four starts this season including the $100,000 Minnesota Derby and the $50,000 Victor S. Myers Stakes. He is trained by Mac Robertson, the all-time leading Minnesota Festival trainer with 32 wins. The 3-year-old is owned by Joe Novogratz of Chanhassen, Minn. and will be ridden by Orlando Mojica. The seven-horse field also includes Dame Plata who won the Northern Lights Futurity last year.
Robertson is well represented in all thoroughbred stakes, having entered 11 horses. Hot Shot Kid, who won three stakes this meet, races in the Wally’s Choice Classic. Ready to Runaway, a $25,000 claim by Robertson who went on to win the $50,000 Frances Genter and $100,000 Minnesota Oaks, will race in the Glitter Star. He has one 2-year-old in the Northern Lights Futurity and two in the Debutante. Robertson will also saddle Honey’s Sox Appeal in her attempt to win a fourth consecutive Distaff Sprint. Owned by Robert Lindgren of Prior Lake, Minn., she has lifetime earnings of $384,120, all from 24 starts at Canterbury, the most accumulated by any Minnesota bred mare in the history of the track.
General admission on Sunday is $7. Children 17 and younger are admitted free. Parking is free. Admission gates open at 11:30 a.m.