By Noah Joseph
The featured race of the week and of the year is this Saturday: The Mystic Lake Derby, a race for 3-year-olds going one mile on the turf for a purse of $200,000.
The race draws some of the best horses, owners, trainers, and jockeys from around the country, and this year’s edition will be no exception. This will be the sixth running of the Mystic Lake Derby, and each year’s edition has been more exciting than the last.
The inaugural running featured horses from Minnesota, Kentucky, and even Canada. The race was won by Hammer’s Terror, a shipper. Owned by Terry Hamilton, trained by Michael Stidham, and ridden by local jockey Lori Keith. Hammer’s Terror, a son of 2005 Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Artie Schiller, won from post 2 going wire to wire, yet had to survive an inquiry from the runner up Delegation for interference, but the result stood. Proving that he was no fluke, Hammer’s Terror won the Brooks Fields stakes (also running this Saturday), the following year.
Same silks, same owner, same trainer, same jockey, same post, and same sire, but the 2013 Mystic Lake Derby belonged to Dorsett. Unlike his stablemate, Dorsett came from last with a sweeping move on the final turn to win going away. Dorsett went on later to run against top graded stakes company. Dorsett is still running, and earlier this year won the Grade 1 Barbados Gold Cup in Barbados for the second year in a row.
If you’ve followed international racing this year, you may have seen a horse named Long on Value in a couple of races. What you may not know was that before running overseas; Long on Value won the Mystic Lake Derby in 2014. The colt trained by Bill Mott came from the back of the field under a well-timed ride by jockey Chris DeCarlo. Long on Value went on to win two graded stakes after his derby score, and ran against some the best turf horses in the country and the world.
2015 was the year Canterbury pitched the offer to Triple Crown winner American Pharoah to run in the Mystic Lake Derby. While his connections turned down the generous offer, the race was exciting none the less, which was won by Nun the Less. The son of Candy Ride came to Minnesota after impressive finishes in Chicago, and like the previous two winners, came from behind with a late move in the stretch to win for owner Lothenbach Stables, trainer Chris Block, and jockey Florent Geroux– who two weeks earlier had won the Arlington Million with The Pizza Man.
Last year’s derby was by far one of the greatest races in the history of Canterbury Park. One Mean Man with jockey Orlando Mojica, came up the rail late, and nosed out Whatawonderflworld and jockey Robby Albarado right on the wire. One Mean Man went on to win two more stakes in 2016. However, the best horse in the race finished third. That horse was Hay Dakota, who went on to beat One Mean Man in a Grade 3 race at Churchill Downs, and beat One Mean Man again earlier this year in the Mystic Lake Mile.
In just five previous runnings, the Mystic Lake Derby has produced some very good horses and great memories. And on Saturday, one horse, one owner, one trainer, and one jockey, will have their named added to the list of winners of Canterbury’s richest race.