By JIM WELLS
You just knew that something good was going to happen, or at least something unusual, in Saturday’s third race.
The race was designated “Milly’s Memorial Race” so it couldn’t be ordinary, routine or otherwise commonplace.
The race was run in honor of Milly Otsea, a long-time employee of the track who died in April. Milly was special to a long list of folks, so the race, a six-furlong claiming sprint for maidens, had to offer something special as well.
And that it did.
Bold Ozzie, a 3-year-old gelding by Ghazi, had a reputation for not being able to finish races. “He might have something wrong, a flapper or something or he might need to go longer,” said Les Mertens as he watched the race on a grandstand monitor.
There didn’t seem to be much wrong this time, with Bold Ozzie or the distance.
Bold Ozzie held off Timeless Fortune, who made a determined bid to take away the lead in the closing strides, and broke out of the maiden ranks as a 12-1 longshot.
Timeless Fortune, ridden by Jose Ferrer, is trained by Todd Hoffrogge, a great nephew to Milly, who worked in the track concession and supervised a number of concession stands in the grandstand.
“You’ve got more reasons than usual to win this one,” a bystander said to Hoffrogge as he left the paddock. “Yeah, it would be nice. Grandma Elaine is here and so are a lot of other relatives.”
“It would be nice to win this one for Milly,” said Dave Astar, who owns Timeless Fortune with his wife, Deborah.
Timeless Fortune couldn’t overtake Bold Ozzie on this day, and that was good news to the winner’s owners, Scott, 9, and Olivia Bethke, 5, whose dad, Troy, trains Bold Ozzie.
As everyone lined up for the picture in the winner’s circle, Scott gave winning rider Paul Nolan a high five and then breathed a deep sigh of relief.
Twenty minutes earlier, Troy Bethke joked with a bystander about Bold Ozzie, winless in five starts, as he left the paddock. “This horse better win today or we’re going to give him to the Amish,”. Troy said, taking a look Scott as he spoke.
There was an obvious problem with that scenario as Bethke quickly pointed out. “They’d probably use him to transport the kids, and they’d always be late for school,” he said.
Not Saturday. Not during Milly’s race.
The winner’s circle was packed afterward with members of the Otsea family, other relatives, friends and riders who knew Milly. Rider Dean Butler held up the picture briefly to grab his 2-year-old daughter Kayleigh.
Afterward, a group congregated near the spot where Milly always sat during the races, underneath the steps that lead from the grandstand apron to the horsemen’s section on the second level.
A table was set up and the area was roped off. A plant was on the table with a picture taken a few years ago of Claiming Crown boss Nat Wess, Milly, her husband, Fred, and track president/CEO Randy Sampson.
Plans are to put a plaque there inscribed with the words displayed Saturday on a temporary placard: “Forever, Milly’s Spot. Canterbury Park’s Goodwill Ambassador to Horsemen. Employee, fan, friend.”
LATE EDITIONS RIGHT ON TIME
You didn’t need a Racing Form for a number of races Saturday. All you needed was the name of the sire.
Late Edition, a 14-year-old son of Cryptoclearance from the Storm Bird mare Starlet Storm, had six starters on the card and they had an excellent day.
Six starters, two of them in the same race, produced three wins and a second.
Two days ago, a 2-year-old daughter of Late Edition named Cinder Ellie ran third in her debut for trainer Doug Oliver.
Late Edition stands at Osborne Farm, three miles west of Cambridge. The farm is managed by Rick and Joyce Osborne.
Late Edition’s starters performed like this on Saturday:
Wide Ide, a 3-year-old gelding from the Ide mare Ide Tyme, won the first race under Ry Eikleberry. He is trained by Oliver.
Late Edition scored again in the second race. Bauble Boy won that race for Scott Stevens and trainer Bernell Rhone.
Timeless Fortune was just beaten by Bold Ozzie in the third race.
Brother O Mine, from Betsy Lite, is a four-year-old gelding who didn’t light the board in the fifth race. But Lumpsinmyoatmeal, ridden by Dylan Williams and trained by Coty Rosin, gave Late Edition his third winner on the card in race six.