Stormy Smith reflected on the question, searching his memory as if he were rewinding an old tape recorder, trying to locate some recorded facts.
The 36-year-old rider is leading the quarter horse jockey standings, not entirely a new event to him. After all he has been the leading rider at Prairie Meadows nine of the last 10 years and was the leading rider at the Woodlands his last three or four meets there. He finished second at Remington Park a couple of years ago.
He is not so jaded by those events that he wouldn’t relish his first riding crown in Shakopee, however. Not by a long shot, if you’ll forgive the expression.
Smith has a one-win lead over defending quarter horse champion Jorge Torres, who will be tough competition in the final days of the quarter horse meet, riding as he does for the loaded Stacy Charette-Hill barn.
Smith is finishing his second complete or near complete meet at Canterbury Park but has been racing here off and on, flying in for stakes races, the past decade. “I love it here,” he said. “The Mystic Lake purses have made it a profitable place to race, but the big factor is that they make racing fun here with all of the people-friendly events,” Smith said. “I just wish they had a couple more quarter horse races each day. Otherwise, this place is just a riot.”
Smith grew up in racing. His father, uncles and a grandfather raced. His dad also trained. Born in New Mexico, raised largely in Louisiana, he has lived in Purcell, Okla., the last five years. “We bought a place there,” he said, “in Purcell, about 35 miles south of Remington Park off Interstate 35.”
Smith had a two-win lead before Friday’s first race, but Torres cut it to one with a win on Charette-Hill’s Lil Miss Party Doll.
It isn’t often that a Charette-Hill charge will return $14.40 . A wager isn’t likely to return more than even money on most horses out of her barn, but Lil Miss Party Doll wouldn’t leave the gate her last time out, discouraging attention on her Friday.
Torres wasn’t back in the jockey’s lounge but a minute or two when he was summoned to the phone for a consultation with the stewards concerning his mount’s gate behavior. According to Torres, she wanted to go before the gate opened and then backed up a step after realizing there was no place to go.
She made good use of open space once it was presented to her. As for Torres, this is only his second year riding for the barn. Previously, he divided his time between breaking horses primarily and working the oil fields. After winning the title in Shakopee his first year of riding, the oil fields are far down his list of how to make a living these days. As for winning a second title….
“I just race one day at a time,” Torres said.
A good plan considering the uncertainty of anything you care to name around the racetrack. Titles come and go. Take Friday’s first race, for example. Torres, the defending champion was accompanied by other Canterbury riding champs, including three-time winner Ry Eikleberry and two-time winner Nik Goodwin.
DISABLED RIDERS FUND DRIVE SATURDAY.
The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund was created in 2006 to provide financial aid to riders sidelined by injuries in their sport. Some 60 riders with permanently disabling injuries benefit on a regular basis from the fund.
You need look no further than Canterbury to find riders who benefit from this fund _ namely four-time quarter horse riding champion Tad Leggett and quarter horse/thoroughbred jockey Anne Von Rosen, both paralyzed in racing-related incidents.
Fans and the racing community can donate to this fund across the nation today by simply texting JOCKEY to 50555 to make a $10 donation.
The organization has provided more than $5 million in assistance since founded.
A SMILE AS WIDE AS ALL OUTDOORS
A bystander mentioned her celebratory moment from the night before, and a smile crossed the face of Chamisa Goodwin as if it had just occurred.
“I wasn’t here for your big moment last night,” he said. “Must have been nice.”
An understatement to be sure.
Goodwin had gone 57 races this season without a win, but put that behind her with a win aboard Shagrila Bar in Thursday’s eighth race.
Track announcer Paul Allen immediately made it known that the win was the first for Goodwin this season.
“Everyone in the grandstand started clapping,” she said. “It was great. Really great.”
A PARADE OF LONG SHOTS
You don’t see a parade of this sort very often, but there it was, a prominent part of Friday night’s card, one longshot after another.
Patrick Canchari got it under way by bringing in Waytogo Trish in race four at 10-1. Qunicy Hamilton was on a 10-1 selection named Evansville Runaway in the fifth. Jake Olesiak rode Royal Congrats at 13-1 in the following race.
But the real payoff came in the seventh. Israel Hernandez brought in the P.C. Fauchald-trained Shal Pal’s Castle at 16-1.
HARD TO FIND A SEAT AT THIS POKER TABLE
The third race produced a winner named Ballistic Sue, with Ry Eikleberry up. Nothing all that newsworthy there. But how about the shake that took place to claim her!
Trainer Doug Oliver took the seven-year-old mare from the Robertino Diodoro barn in a six-way shake at the claiming box.
BY JIM WELLS