BY JIM WELLS
The nicknames are meant for a single day at most and they are intended to describe an accomplishment or feat that is meaningful merely for a short period of time.
So, Berkley Packer was being referred to on Friday night as Daily Double, or Stakes Man, depending on the creativity of some of his colleagues. High fives were common and delivered in some cases perfunctorily, without fervor, but meant at least as an acknowledgement of his efforts.
It’s always nice to win two stakes races, back to back, as he did to initiate Friday’s card, confirming his belief when he arrived at Canterbury Park earlier in the evening that he had two winning mounts.
“I really liked both of them,” he said. “I thought we had excellent chances in both races. I thought we’d win.”
So it was that Packer was the winning rider in the $24,000 Mean Competitor Stakes at 870 yards and then again in the $25,000 Skip Zimmerman Stakes at 350 yards.
It wasn’t the first time he has swept a stakes double. He once rode five quarter horse winners on a single card in Indiana, two of them in stakes, a record that still stands.
He was on Blue Eyed Andy in the first stakes, sent off as second choice at 2/1 from the seven hole. “I knew that the two (Haynes Blue Boy) broke well and so (7/5 favorite) Hiclass Man had to go with him,” Packer said. ” Right then I figured we could get it.”
Haynes Blue Boy had blown the turn previously, something Packer knew, and he had found room along the rail to take advantage of just such an opportunity.
Haynes bore out once again, taking Hiclass Man with him, and Packer and Blue Eyed Andy were on the rail, in perfect position. They won in commanding fashion, finishing 1 ½ lengths in front of 4/1 choice Streakin in the City with Hiclass in third, two lengths out of second place.
The winning time was 47.04.
The Mean Competitor was run for the first time since 2008. It was won that year by First to Ramble, ridden by Tad Leggett and trained by Charlie Hunt.
R Allen Hybsha, the trainer of Friday’s winner, added a little additional history to the race. “I knew the trainer of Mean Competitor,” he offered. “Mark Holder.”
Mean Competitor, who twice set the local record for 870 yards, is in the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.
Packer brought in HTR Miamor Tequilla, conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Ed Ross Hardy, in the Skip Zimmerman.
His biggest concern in the race?
Perhaps the 10 horse, Corona Springs, trained by three-time quarter horse training champion Jason Olmstead?
“Well, yeah,” he said. “Everything trained by Jason (who had four horses in the race).”
Packer is certainly familiar with Miamor Tequilla. He not only broke the horse, but has been on him in three previous races.
“He ran well tonight,” he said. “Lots of heart.” Miamor outdueled Corona Springs, winning by ½ length, in 17:59. Bye Byefreighttrain was next, a neck out of second.