News & Notes

by JIM WELLS

There are horsemen opposed to the Claiming Crown who argue the money would be better spent on stakes races more suited to locally based horses.

They maintain that the money shifted from local stakes ($250,000) to the Claiming Crown races as the HBPA contribution is sending too much cash out of state as opposed to keeping it in Minnesota coffers.

HBPA president Tom Metzen presented another side to the issue following the Claiming Crown last week, one of the most competitive and perhaps best organized of the eight runnings staged at Canterbury.

“We get complaints that we’re using too much purse money that our people won’t benefit from,” Metzen said, “but the figures from this year show that it was a pretty good deal for everyone involved.”

Local stables picked up some cash in the 2008 Claiming Crown. Deputy Tice, trained by James Cook, got a check for $5,000 by finishing third for owners Steve Erban and John Truscott in the Iron Horse.

Chickster, trained by Justin Evans for SEJ Stable, finished fourth and picked up $2,500 in the Express. Couple Whiles, conditioned by Bernell Rhone for Will Carlson of St. Paul and Jerry Pint of New Prague, ran second in the Tiara and that was worth $20,000. Natural Tendency finished fourth for Cam Casby of Shakopee, good for $5,000. Inhonorofjohnnie, owned by locally based trainer Owen McQuade, finished last but earned $1,000.

Eagle Storm won the $75,000 Rapid Transit for trainer Justin Evans and Detroit Lakes-based SEJ Stable, owned by Curt and Sharon Johnson. That was worth a check for $41,250. Pivot Pad, trained by Dave Van Winkle and John Hennessy, trained by Evans for Rosemount owners, got checks for $750 in the same race.

Canard, trained by Van Winkle, picked up a check for $10,000 by finishing thrid in the Emerald and Mr. Playwright, trained by Manny Uriza, and Chip Hunter, trained by Bobbie Grissom and owned by Bob Lindgren of Prior Lake, got checks for $1,000.

Locally based connections earned $93,750 and the figure is even larger if Chippewa Court’s earnings in the Glass Slipper are included. Chippewa Court is owned by Illinois-based trainer Merrill Scherer and Dan Lynch, a former Minnesotan now residing in Oklahoma who occasionally still races horses in partnership at Canterbury Park. If Chippewa Court’s paycheck is included, the local total becomes $135,000.

“If you knock that total off the $250,000 (the HBPA gives up) and figure that we get 8.6 percent of the on-track wager, it’s really a pretty good deal,” Metzen said. “It’s really a home run for the track and the horsemen.”

Total on-track betting on Canterbury’s races that day was $753,629. Local patrons wagered another $352,358 on simulcast races elsewhere, increasing total on-track wagering to more than $1 million. Total on-track and off-track wagering on the day was $2,771,947.

One other race that benefited as part of the card was the $100,000 Lady Canterbury, which drew 11 starters, three of them because Claiming Crown trainers brought additional horses for that race. Some previous running of the Lady Canterbury have attracted light fields, as few as five or six horses.

The Lady Canterbury attracted wagering of $274,000, $197,000 of the total from out of state. It wasn’t necessary for Eric Halstrom, Canterbury’s vice president of racing operations, to check the books on that one. “I can guarantee you that was the most ever bet on that race,” he said.
Nonetheless, the Claiming Crown continues to cost Canterbury $50,000 to $100,000 each time it is run. Canterbury president/CEO Randy Sampson said it makes more sense for Canterbury to host the event every other year.

What there doesn’t seem to be much disagreement on are the rave reviews from visiting horsemen and owners each time the Claiming Crown has been run in Shakopee.

“The people from out of town love it here,” Metzen said. “They think this is the best thing since night baseball.”

ANOTHER SMITH STABLE SUCCESS
Charlie Smith made the trip to Assiniboia Downs last weekend (this Canadian weekend included Monday racing) and cleaned up handsomely.

Miss Missile, owned and trained by Smith, claimed her third stakes win of the summer at the Winnipeg track, winning a $50,000 mile event for three-year-old fillies in which she defeated Elle Tish Slew, trained by Richie Scherer and ridden by Paul Nolan. Miss Missile, the lone speed in the race, won by 4 1/2 lengths.

Lady Countdown, also owned and trained by Smith, took home the hardware and a check for first place in the $50,000 two-year-old filly stakes, a 5 1/2-furlong event she won by 6 1/2 lengths.

First place in both cases was worth $30,000. The exchange rate currently translates to $29,208 U.S.

“Not too bad right now,” Smith says.

Smith had been inquiring after a dorm room at Canterbury and when he returned this week, stall superintendent Mark Stancato was able to oblige, but not without titling the new quarters. Stancato dubbed the room the “Onion Suite” after discovering that the previous occupant had left some onions on a chair.

“I haven’t gotten there yet,” Smith said Thursday morning, “but (Stancato) was explaining that to me.”

Smith, who calls Annetta, Texas home (that’s about 35 miles west of Fort Worth) said he arrived at Canterbury in separate trips in June with about seven horses. The stable has expanded in the time since to 13.

Smith describes his stable as a “single family operation with four to five two-year-olds each year. My girlfriend, Terry Propps, does all the bloodstock research on everything,” he said. “She has a really good knowledge of bloodlines and a good eye, too. You put those together and you’ve got something.”

Lady Countdown and Miss Missile are a couple of cases in point.

Smith is now considering running Miss Missile at Canterbury on Labor Day or possibly in a $75,000 race at the end of the Assiniboia meet. In the latter case, he surmises he’d go head to head with Polynesian Kitty from the Jamie Ness barn, a filly Miss Missile’s beaten once this year but one Smith respects highly.

“They’re both very nice fillies,” Smith said. “Polynesian Kitty ran a very nice race (at Assiniboia last weekend). ”

NESS BARN CONTINUES TO WIN ON THE ROAD
Canterbury Park is the ideal spot for Jamie Ness during the summer months, not only because he considers it his home track but also because of its central location to other racing locations he likes.Take last weekend for example.

Ness sent Polynesian Kitty to Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg for a race on Sunday. He vanned Denouncer’s Gal to Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa, for a race on Saturday, and sent Lyka Card Shark to Altoona for a race on Monday.

Better yet, his horses won all three races they entered.

Polynesian Kitty, ridden by Alan Cuthbertson, won a $50,000 stakes at Assiniboia by an impressive seven lengths, picking up a check for $29,208 (U.S.).

Ridden by Alex Birzer, Lyka Card Shark collected a check for $17,010 in an allowance race, and Denouncer’s Gal, again with Birzer up, got a paycheck for $12,600.

Ness figures he’s earned around $200,000 at each of those locations this summer, but insists he couldn’t do it without the sidekicks he has in his barn, his cousin Cory Jensen and Coty Rosin.
Last weekend, he had different emissaries at the three races.

“Coty was in Iowa on Saturday. Chuck Butcher was in Winnipeg on Sunday, and Cory was in Iowa on Monday,” said Ness. “That’s why I’m able to do this, because of these guys. I couldn’t do it otherwise.”

Ness is considering a couple of spots next for Polynesian Kitty, the Dean Kutz Stakes on closing day at Canterbury and the $75,000 stake on Sept. 21 that he won last year at Assiniboia.

NTRA THOROUGHBRED NOTEBOOK
August 7, 2008
WORLDS COLLIDE AS EUROPEANS INVADE SATURDAY’S ARLINGTON MILLION

Globetrotting Archipenko, with graded stakes victories on three continents this year, will try to add North America to that list when he faces seven accomplished grass runners in Saturday’s 25th renewal of Grade I Arlington Million at Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, Ill.

Archipenko, owned by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and Dr. A. H. Parker, is enjoying a season highlighted by a victory in Hong Kong’s Group I Queen Elizabeth II Cup last April 27, most recently won Great Britain’s Group I Summer Mile Stakes July 12, and also posted a tally in Dubai’s Grade II Al Fahidi Fort Stakes Feb. 21. South African-born but internationally renowned conditioner Michael de Kock, who brought South African-bred Irridescence to Arlington last summer to finish second in the 2007 Grade I Beverly D., is the trainer of Archipenko. South African jockey Kevin Shea is in Chicago to ride Archipenko.

A second European-based invader is the British-bred, Irish-based Mount Nelson. Owned by Derrick Smith, Mrs. John Magnier and Michael Tabor, and trained by Ireland’s Aidan O’Brien, Mount Nelson’s Coral-Eclipse tally came in his most recent start July 5 at Sandown Park in England. Irish jockey Johnny Murtagh journeys across the Atlantic to ride for O’Brien, who has an unprecedented 17 Group I victories at this stage of the 2008 season.

The Million, along with the $750,000 Beverly D. and the $400,000 Secretariat, is one of three Grade I races to make up Arlington’s one-day International Festival of Racing Saturday. “NTRA Summer Racing” will televise the live runnings of the Arlington Million and Beverly D. from 4:30-6:00 p.m. (ET). Also on the show via tape delay will be the Secretariat Stakes, run earlier in the day at Arlington.

Leading America’s hopes for a victory in Arlington Million XXVI is South American-bred but North American-based Einstein, whose 2008 season currently boasts a victory in Churchill Downs’ Grade I Woodford Reserve Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day May 3 and a win in South Florida’s Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Feb. 23.

Trained by Helen Pitts, the Brazilian-bred Einstein finished as a fast-closing second in Churchill’s Grade II Firecracker Handicap at one mile over the Louisville lawn July 4. Jockey Robby Albarado returns in the irons for the Arlington Million, run at a mile and a quarter.

A third European invader, the French-bred, French-based Spirit One, is known for leading European superstar Duke of Marmalade in all but the late stages of Longchamp’s Group I Prix Ganay April 27, but the colt was also second by a half-length behind eventual Group I Champion Stakes hero Literato in Deauville’s Group II Prix Guillaume d’Ornano in August of 2007. Spirit One will be ridden by jockey Ioritz Mendizabal.

Stream Cat, Sudan, Cloudy’s Knight and Silverfoot round out the field.

CURLIN TO RACE NEXT AT SARATOGA IN THE AUGUST 30 WOODWARD

Stonestreet Farms announced this weekoday that the next race for Curlin, 2007 Horse of the Year, will be the Grade I, $500,000 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on August 30. The race is run at 1 1/8 miles on the main track.

“We are all looking forward to the Woodward and seeing this great athlete perform again before an American audience at this historic track,” said Jess Jackson, majority owner of Curlin. “When we decided to race Curlin as a four-year-old, this is the kind of enthusiasm we had in mind for the fans and for the industry.”

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