By JIM WELLS
Canterbury Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens took in a bit of Minnesota culture before he headed home to Phoenix on Sunday.
Last Friday there was the state fair. “Yeah, the great Minnesota get-together,” he said.
On Saturday night, he and Pam attended the Minnesota Vikings-Dallas game. They ended up with a couple of last-minute tickets so they called the Nolans, Paul and Sherry.
Paul had a mount in Saturday’s last race, so he rushed home afterward and the Nolans hustled off to the Mall of America and caught the train to downtown Minneapolis, arriving during the second quarter.
“I told him he could time it better by leaving when Paul Allen left,” Stevens said facetiously. Allen, who announces Canterbury racing, also is the voice of the Vikings, and left after Saturday’s fourth race.
As it turned out, Stevens and Nolan were not the only jockeys at the game. “I got a text from (Dean) Butler during the game,” Stevens said Sunday. “He was there, too.”
Stevens has spent another summer in Minnesota, as he did last year, recuperating from track-related injuries. This time he broke both shoulders in a schooling accident in the gate.
Originally, his right shoulder was in a sling. Once it healed, he underwent surgery on the left shoulder, which was damaged more severely. That limb was removed from a sling last Tuesday, one week ahead of schedule.
“After five weeks in a sling, it still feels kind of heavy,” Stevens said.
“I’m not supposed to lift anything heavier than a cup of coffee, but that’s already shot in the wind,” he added. “I had to pack. Pam helped but…”
Stevens will get a late start at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, which starts on Oct. 1, as he did last year. He’s been told it will take five months before he can get back in the saddle. “Dec. 18 will be five,” he said, “so I’m looking at something between the middle of November to the middle of December.”
Stevens was 90 miles south of the Twin Cities during the Sunday conversation. He and Pam were under way and planned to stop in Emporia, Kan., for the night.
“I just talked to my brother, Gary,” Scott said. ‘He was at Saratoga yesterday and he called me on his way. He was in Washington, D.C., and was taking a flight to New York. I told him he was going to get stranded (afterward, because of the storm). But he drove to Buffalo and caught a flight to Louisville and is driving back to Los Angeles. We might try to hook up with him in Oklahoma.”
WILL THERE BE A PHOTO FINISH
With nine race cards left, the trainer’s race tightened up even more on Sunday after a hot start to the card from Mike Biehler, who won the title in 1992.
Biehler saddled three consecutive winners, starting in race two: Local Big Shot, Machorina and Somerset Swinger.
Biehler has 31 wins for the meet, one behind the leader, Bernell Rhone, and one ahead of Mac Robertson, who had one winner on Sunday.
Machorina and Somerset Swinger were ridden by Lori Keith, Canterbury’s most improved rider this meet (nosing out turf champ Brittany Arterburn). Keith now has 29 wins and is solidly in fourth place, behind Ry Eilkeberry, Hall of Fame rider Derek Bell and two-time defending champion Dean Butler, who picked up two winning mounts from the injured Dustin Dugas and added a third win of his own. He has a 10-race lead over Bell, who had one winner on Sunday.
A FAMILIAR FACE RETURNS
Terri Hoffrogge was back at her desk as the horsemen’s bookkeeper, filling in for Tiffany Leggett, who returned to college. Hoffrogge started the meet in the office and will end the meet there.
In between, she has been doing similar duties a0t Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, where her husband, Todd, a long-time trainer at Canterbury, runs a farm.
“I started the season here and will end it here, that’s right,” Terri said.
Canterbury riders have escaped without serious injuries despite a tough week on the track.
Juan Rivera banged up a leg on Friday night’s card and was back riding the next day, although still limping noticeably.
Dugas was catapulted by his mount in the paddock before Saturday’s first race and landed hard on his back. He made a brief visit to the track on Sunday and is hopeful of riding by Thursday but might need a week.
Sunday, Nolan was dumped outside the game by 2-year-old Demi’s Heart before the fifth race, but was okay afterward.