BY JIM WELLS
Despite the sultry conditions that enveloped riders and their mounts throughout the grounds early Thursday afternoon, there was a cooling breeze present in certain areas of the racetrack not blocked by the grandstand.
Jareth Loveberry commented on the saving breeze and its welcome presence on a warm afternoon. Those cooling respites made an uncomfortable afternoon considerably more tolerable. “The paddock was really hot,” he said.
Then again, no rider on the grounds was hotter than Loveberry the last two days. He won two $50,000 stakes and a total of five races, teaming up in the stakes events with trainer Mac Robertson.
Wednesday night Loveberry piloted First Hunter to the winner’s circle in the Minnesota Turf Distaff. Thursday, he was in the irons aboard Ready To Runaway, owned by John Mentz, in the Frances Genter.
The hottest trainer on the grounds was Robertson, who had an sizzling two-day run, sweeping both stakes races Wednesday and both again on Thursday, when he saddled five winners, giving him eight in two days
Robertson shook his head, controlling a slight smile. “Yes, it was a very good day,” he said. “I can’t say I deserve this.”
“Deserve,” as Clint Eastwood told Little Bill in Unforgiven before pulling the trigger, “has nothing to do with it.” Loveberry has been on a tear, and Robertson has led the way.
The heat of the afternoon gave way to pleasant conditions by early evening, and it would be remiss to exclude a rider named Orlando Mojica, aptly saddled with the monicker, the boy of summer. He was having a steady, profitable meet all along and now it seems to be skyrocketing. Not only did he ride the winner in the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, the richest race of the meet, he bounced right back on Wednesday, winning the $50,000 Minnesota Turf and was aboard Robertson’s Mister Banjoman in the $50,000 Victor S Myers Stakes on Thursday.
$50,000 FRANCES GENTER
In a five-horse, wide open race, Ready To Runaway got out of the gate first and Loveberry kept her there for a gate to wire commanding win as the post time slight favorite over second choice Grand Prize.
“I always thought I had plenty of horse,” he said. “She was very relaxed the whole way,” Loveberry said.
Relaxed enough to expand a two length lead with a half mile left to 4 ½ lengths at the wire in front of Grand Prize with 6 ¼ additional lengths back to Dangerous Wave. Ready To Runaway, who did just that, covered six furlongs in 1:10.61 after fractions of 22.11, 45.11 and 57.46.
$50,000 VICTOR S MYERS
Just as took place in the Genter with the fillies, Mojica had a gate to wire romp aboard Mister Banjoman, owned by Joe Novogratz, in this sprint for the boys.
Second choice at 2-1, he had a two length lead quickly out of the game and had the same margin at the wire with Dame Plata, the even money favorite, and Loveberry next, 2 ¼ lengths in front of Astronaut Oscar.
The winning time was 1:10.21 after fractions of 22.42, 45.64 and 57.71
GENTER LAID A FOUNDATION IN RACING
The mention of Frances Genter never fails to conjure reminiscences of the 1990 Kentucky Derby, with trainer Carl Nafzger at her side in the Churchill Downs stands, calling the race to the Grand Dame of American racing, a Minnesota native.
Genter Stables had been well known throughout the thoroughbred nation for decades, revered for its breeding influence on racing, particularly in Florida. Her husband had been deceased for some time, so it was Frances who was in the spotlight on the first Saturday of May in 1990.
A national television audience watched transfixed as Nafzger updated Genter, whose diminutive stature and aging eyesight prevented her from seeing with any certainty what was transpiring on the track.
The clip that was presented over and over again involved the stretch run when Genter’s horse, Unbridled, began closing on the leaders with his long stride and then took command.
You could have heard the following comment from more than one racing fan on the Canterbury grounds over the age of, say, fifty (with some exceptions, of course) Thursday. “You call up that video on YouTube. It’s really heartrending.”
Indeed, you could see the emotion and excitement in Genter’s face as Nafzger called out the position of her horse, step by step in the stretch run, culminating the drama with his declaration that she had not only won the Kentucky Derby but that he loved her, too.
Unbridled finished second in 1989 in the Juvenile at Canterbury Downs, and Genter Stables also raced its Eclipse Award winning sprinter Smile in Shakopee.