By Noah Joseph
Not just at Canterbury Park, but around the country, many stakes races are named after famous horses.
The first special Monday of the 2017 Canterbury season, Memorial Day, will offer two stakes races, both with $50,000 purses and named for two of the greatest horses to ever race at Canterbury Park. The Honor the Hero Stakes is for three year olds and up sprinting five furlongs on the turf, and the Northbound Pride Oaks is for three year old fillies at one mile on the turf.
First, Honor the Hero. A Virginia-bred son of Hero’s Honor, the bay gelding was sold at the prestigious Keeneland September Yearling sale in 1989 to trainer Doug Oliver for $25,000. By the time Honor the Hero retired in 1996, he made a $25,000 purchase look like a $25,000,000 purchase. Ok, maybe not that much, but when he retired, he earned over twenty-five times his purchase price. He was a three-time graded stakes winner, a 12-time stakes winner, and a two-time Canterbury winner. He even ran in the 1994 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, along with a race in Japan, and set the 7 and ½ furlong turf track record at Canterbury in 1995 that still stands today.
Northbound Pride was a much different horse. A daughter of Proud Pocket, Northbound Pride was one of the most successful Minnesota breds of all time. She started her career in 1988 and finished in the top three in three starts that year. In 1989, she never finished worse than second and won six races, three of them stakes. She was almost unbeatable in Minnesota, and even won in Chicago at Arlington Park. She won 11of 38 starts and finished in the top three 29 times earning more than over $200,000. She also was a successful broodmare; she had five foals and four of them were winners, just like her.
Noah Joseph is a longtime Canterbury Park and horse racing fan. He’s been attending races at Canterbury since 2000 when he was 3 years old and has enjoyed every minute of it. Noah provides a weekly piece on CanterburyLive.com.