BY JIM WELLS
There is a new way, other than cloud seeding, to open the heavens and guarantee that rains will follow.
Canterbury Park simply needs to plan something special.
This could become an added revenue source for the Shakopee track. Nearby farmers need their crops watered ? Canterbury can guarantee it by simply planning a festival or big race card of some kind.
Take Saturday night as an example, Made in Minnesota Night, with 10 races, six of them stakes, restricted to Minnesota-bred horses. What at first appeared like a cool, comfortable evening for racing turned suddenly into a wet, muddy and soggy night.
So much for staying clean in the winner’s enclosure or the paddock. Both were surrounded by mud, as was the track, the hallway to the jockey’s lounge and those quarters as well.
It has happened time and time again this summer. The night or afternoon of something special and rain or storms of some kind are assured.
Still, Saturday’s card produced some tense, exciting finishes and good racing all around. Despite losing the two turf stakes, the Blair’s Cove Stakes and the Princess Elaine Stakes, which were moved to main track, both produced thrilling runs to the wire.
The night belonged to trainer Mac Robertson and jockey Orlando Mojica. Robertson won five races, sweeping all four thoroughbred stakes. Mojica, who won the richest race of the summer in June, the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, has been on a stakes tear this meet. He won three of them for the Robertson barn on Saturday.
The first two thoroughbred stakes produced tight finishes. Mojica brought in Honey’s Sox
Appeal for owner Bob Lindgren, holding off a furious stretch challenge from Maywood Hope with Ry Eilkeberry up, the difference a short neck in the $50,000 guaranteed Princess Elaine.
Then, Mojica rode Warren Bush’s Hot Shot Kid to a similar victory over Fireman Oscar, again with Eikleberry up.
Although the Fireman made a strong bid late and possibly had a shot with another 20 yards,
Eikleberry didn’t think so. “He wasn’t going to let us pass,” he said.
The $100,000 Minnesota Oaks had a somewhat different storyline. The winning horse, Ready to Runaway, who lived up to her name, was claimed by John Mentz earlier in the meet for $25,000. He got a great return on that investment Saturday with the winning share of $60,000. “Best claim I’ve ever had,” said Mentz.
The winning rider in this case was Jareth Loveberry, who took a deep breath as he entered the winner’s enclosure, stifling the rising emotion he felt. He had been sidelined a week by a
concussion, returning only Friday. He originally tried to ride after the incident, but then the symptoms appeared. “I wanted to be sure I was OK and not come back too soon,” he said. It didn’t hurt that he was on filly that was much the best in the Oaks.
Mister Banjoman, with Mojica up, made the $100,000 Minnesota Derby an easy win, too, closing out a blockbuster night for Robertson. Sent off the 78/5 favorite, Mister Banjoman was much the best in the eight-horse field for the Novogratz Racing Stables.
THE CASH CARAVAN STAKES
The older brother finally got the best of his sibling, but it took a lost stirrup for it to happen.
The last five times these brothers met, it ended up the other way around
PYC Jess Bite Mydust, after a poor break, turned on the afterburners in the stretch drive to catch defending Cash Caravan defending champion Dickey Bob.
“It wouldn’t have happened if Cristian (Esqueda) hadn’t lost a stirrup,” said Jason Olmstead, who trains both horses. Owner Bruce Lunderborg agreed, pleased nonetheless that his horses have finished one-two the last four times they raced against one another.
The winning time was 19.70, with Holy Storm and Streak N Sparks finishing third and fourth.
Watching the proceedings was Dale Haglund, who not only had a rooting interest in the outcome, but strong ties to the horse for which the race was named.
Haglund’s Streak N Sparks got fourth place money in the $38,600 added event. He is the owner who rounded up eight other Minnesotans to buy half interest in Cash Caravan after trainer Jimmy Winkle offered it to him in 1986.
One of those investors was a man Haglund knew in his hometown of Hector, Curtis Sampson. “He thought about it a long time before getting in,” Haglund said. “Yeah, and now he owns the racetrack,” a bystander added.
INAUGURAL CAM CASBY FUTURITY
Saturday’s first race was the inaugural running of the Cam Casby Futurity, a tribute to the Hall of Fame owner who raced both thoroughbreds and quarter horses, not only at Canterbury Park but also at various venues around the country.
Casby died in 2014 having left a legacy of racing success and devotion to the sport. Cristian Esqueda brought in the first winner of the 300-yard dash, Beep Beep Zoom Zoom.
Beep Beep had a half length on Capos Hero and Julian Serrano, with a time of 15.729. Capos had a head on Jess A Lil Cash.