by JIM WELLS
Toggle onto the web page for Assiniboia Downs and there they are _ trainer Tim Padilla and jockey Adolfo Morales on either side of a large trophy and standing in front of a fetching young woman wrapped in a sash, her long dark tresses sneaking out from beneath a traditional derby hat.
The sash says it all: Smuggler’s Hold.
His name was taken from the libation station in Jimmy Buffet’s Phoenix restaurant, and Smuggler’s Hold lived up to his moniker over the weekend, slipping out of Canada with a nice payday after outdueling nine rivals in the $75,000 Manitoba Derby Monday.
That made for a nice weekend for several local horsemen, including jockey agent Richard Grunder, Padilla, Morales and the horse’s owner, Bryan Porter.
Padilla and Morales also teamed up for second-place money in the $50,000 Oaks with fast closing Himynameissarah, owned by Paul Schafer. She out-finished Lady Countdown, trained by Charlie Smith, a familiar face in Shakopee. The winner was Chicago Invader Mindy Queen, by more than nine lengths.
There was another trainer familiar to Canterbury Downs fans who figured in the Derby. Clayton Gray, former Minnesota HBPA president, trains at Assiniboia. Celtic Thane, a 16-1 outsider, was last in the 10-horse field with three furlongs left but closed furiously and just missed second-place money at the wire for Gray.
Earlier on the card, the Gray-trained Honourable Lady won the $30,000 Graduation Stakes for two-year-olds.
Porter was at Canterbury Park and watched the race via simulcast from the Winnipeg track.
“It was kind of a weird race,” Porter said. “He didn’t leave the gate very good, and Adolfo had to get him into the race down the backside. They bunched up down the backside and he kind of ran past everybody. We were a little worried but he opened up about three at the head of the lane. There was a bunch coming late, but he held them off.”
For a nice payday.
The $75,000 purse broke down this way to the winner: $45,900 Canadian, or $42,600 U.S. dollars.
Padilla credited Morales’ immediate response with winning the race. “Adolfo said he was kind of lazy breaking so he got after him right away. If he hadn’t, he would have been 15 lengths back.”
Smuggler’s Hold needed the three-length lead at the head of the lane as he began to wear down during the stretch run. “That’s a deep racetrack,” Padilla added. “He was getting a little tired.”
He hung on for a 3/4-length win, finishing in 1:53 flat.
Porter bought the horse as a yearling for $5,500 and he now has earned over $86,000.
Porter has no immediate plans for Smuggler’s Hold, who was back in his stall at Canterbury Park on Tuesday.
“He’s already done a ton of traveling,” Porter said. Indeed he has.
Smuggler’s Hold broke his maiden in Shakopee last summer. Then he ran once in San Antonio, then won an allowance race at Zia in New Mexico, then ran at Delta Downs.
“Then he ran three tough races at Oaklawn,” Porter said. Smuggler’s Hold beat older horses in an allowance race at Canterbury this year, and then ran fourth in the Dean Kutz Stakes after checking sharply.
Porter waited until the last minute to enter his horse in the Manitoba Derby. “I waited to see what the heavy heads were going to do,” he said. “When they didn’t go, we decided to go try them. I knew he could get the distance. All he needed was a good trip.”
And some early encouragement from Morales.