By JIM WELLS
Minnesota H.B.P.A. Mile
The sun was shining, the turf was firm and the field was full for the $50,000 HBPA mile on Saturday’s card. That has not been the case very often during this summer of rain, hail, soggy ground and short fields in Shakopee.
The HBPA mile attracted a full contingent of starters, the first time 12 horses have left the gate for an open stakes race this meet. Only the Lady Slipper Stakes had that many starters when 12 Minnesota-breds lined up on May 17. Some fields have been reduced this season by shifts from the grass to the dirt because of soggy turf. Overall, short fields have been the rule rather than exception for racing in general. The gods of racing would have none of it on Saturday. The weather was ideal, the track was firm and 12 horses from Illinois, Iowa, Florida, Kentucky and Minnesota lined up for the eighth running of this event.
“It’s the best field we’ve ever had for this race,” said H.B.P.A. President Tom Metzen.
The best of the best on Saturday was Lemonline, a four-year-old, dark brown daughter of the Lemon Drop Kid, from the Deputy Minister filly Prime Investor. The winner was sent off as the 5-2 favorite. Trained by Anthony Granitz, Lemonlime shipped in from Arlington Park in suburban Chicago and was ridden by Willie Martinez, who is riding at Presque Isle Downs and rode the horse on April 15 to a narrow victory at Tampa Bay Downs.
Running without blinkers for the first time, Lemonlime settled nicely under Martinez and made her strong move from off the pace for a 1 ¼ length victory (in 1:37 and 2/5) over front-running Inhonorofjohnnie, in from Florida, who finished a nose in front of Angel Smoke, a Mac Robertson trainee ridden by Derek Bell and sent off as second choice at 5-2. Martinez said his horse won on her class the last time he rode her and was much more relaxed without the blinkers this time.
“My job was just to sit quiet on her and let her do her job,” Martinez said. “But taking the blinkers off helped a lot. She was more settled and more relaxed this time.”
EYES ON THE CLAIMING CROWN
One of the stars of Saturday’s show was a five-year-old gelding named Eagle Storm who turned the fifth race, a six-furlong allowance event, into a one-horse show with a rocket-like effort under Jesse Garcia, who has a preference for riding horses with such tendencies. The horse was claimed for $20,000 by Justin Evans two weeks ago for S E J Stables (Curt Johnson et all) of Detroit Lakes, Canterbury Park’s champion owner the last two meets. “He’s a runner and Jesse knows how to ride him,” said Evans. “I want my horses to get into the race, and Jesse does that. I want to keep this horse fresh, but my plan is to have him ready for the Claiming Crown (Aug. 2). Evans nominated the horse right after claiming him from Trainer Bernell Rhone on May 31.