By JIM WELLS
It’s like bidding good-bye to classmates on the last day of school or saying sayonara to the guys at the end of, oh, the football season.
Another race meet came to an end on Saturday, the 69th and final day of racing when Sweet Stuff crossed the finish line at 7:12 p.m., winning a mile and 3/8th event on the turf.
Ry Eikleberry claimed his second thoroughbred riding championship, having lead the meet from start to finish. He started the final card of the season with an eight-win lead over Orlando Mojica, who had a brilliant meet himself.
The owners and training titles ended in ties.
The owner’s title appeared to belong to Joe Novogratz after Mister Banjoman survived a jockey’s objection in the $75,000 Shakopee Juvenile, the same race that seemingly wrapped up the training title for Mac Robertson.
It doesn’t often turn out this way, but the last day of racing presented a shootout for the training title between Robertino Diodoro and perennial champion Robertson.
Diodoro had a bang-up Friday with five winners and was up by a single win heading into the final card of the season.
Then, the drama began. Robertson saddled the winners of the daily double to jump back in front by one, and it stayed that way until the eighth race when Diodoro’s Why Frank won under Orlando Mojica to tie it up again.
The Shakopee Juvenile was a spine-tingler with Jareth Loveberry aboard Mister Banjoman and Dean Butler on a fast-closing Topper T, who would have been a winner with another yard of racetrack.
A nose separated the two at the wire, which could have wrapped up titles for Robertson and Novogratz.
And would have except that Orlando Mojica put on another of his patented rides in the 12th race aboard Jonny’s Choice to take a tight duel from Vanderboom Ridge to tie up the trainer’s and owner’s races once again.
And that’s the way it ended, with Joe Novogratz and Charles Garvey sharing the owner’s title with 15 wins apiece.
Robertson had two shots left to claim the trainer’s title. Belle Meade Dancer dueled with Star Hunter in the 13th race, 6 1/2 furlong event for claimers. Star Hunter, pulled it out under Denny Velazquez in the final strides.
Robertson had one last shot in the last race of the season, with Kela Brew, who finished third.
A rider can make up for a lot of missed chances in the everyday races on a card with a stakes victory here or there. Leslie Mawing did just that on the final two days of racing, winning stakes races each day.
Friday night Mawing brought in Bourbon Cowboy in the $50,000 Tom Metzen HBPA sprint.
Saturday, he was on Speeding Kid, the 1/5 favorite in the MTA Stallion Auction Stakes, making winners of the horse’s owners, Lori and William Townsend of Minnetonka.
When Mawing determined that the pace was way too slow, that he was being set up in the 6 ½ furlong dash, he took Speeding Kid immediately to the front and left the field eating his dust.
“He did a wonderful job,” William Townsend acknowledged. “When he saw they were slowing it down, he kicked it up a notch and took charge.”
Some patrons were in a celebratory mood that last two days of the meet, and it showed at various venues. Alexis Pearson, who sells Kevin Gorg’s Power Play Tip Sheet, received $31 in tips on Friday night and another $19 on Saturday. She typically averages between $5 and $10.
The extra money will come in handy. She graduates this year with a double major in broadcast journalism and English at St. Cloud State. .
Alexis is a former Packer, a graduate of South St Paul High School. Any plans to return next year? “If they’ll have me,” she said.
Canterbury Park’s 2018 divisional champions:
Horse of the Year – Mr. Jagermeister (owner: Kristin Boice, Leslie Cummings, Valorie Lund : trainer: Valorie Lund)
Three-Year-Old Colt or Gelding – Mr. Jagermeister (owner: Kristin Boice, Leslie Cummings, Valorie Lund trainer: Valorie Lund)
Sprinter – Mr. Jagermeister (owner: Kristin Boice, Leslie Cummings, Valorie Lund : trainer: Valorie Lund)
Older Horse – Creative Art (owner: Frank Bemis and Shawn Davis : trainer: Shawn Davis)
Grass Horse – Sniper Kitten (owner: Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey : trainer : Michael Maker)
Three-Year-Old Filly – Sirenusa (owner: Barry and Joni Butzow : trainer: Joe Sharp)
Older Filly or Mare – Pinup Girl (owner: Gary and Brenda Bergsrud : trainer: Sandra Sweere)
Two-Year-Old – Dame Plata (owner: Ann Sachdev and Lori Bravo : trainer: Francisco Bravo)
Claimer – Mine’s Made Up (owner: Pick 5 Stable, LLC : trainer: Karl Broberg)
Quarter Horse – Jess Doin Time (owner: Tom Pouliot : trainer: Jason Olmstead)