Sweet Music at Canterbury

Gypsy Melody - Lady Slipper Stakes - 05-17-14 - R08 - CBY - Action Finish600x300

by Jim Wells

Down one day, up the next. In the pits one moment, on top of the world an instant later. All is lost in the morning, the cosmos at your feet that afternoon.

            Ah, yes, the wonderful, wacky, sometimes very weird world of horse racing. Just ask Marlene Colvin.

            Friday, her beloved Heliskier, two-time Horse of the Year in Shakopee, was expected to win for fun in the opening stakes of the season, the 10,000 Lakes Stakes. Afterward, after Heliskier beat only one horse in the four-horse field, Colvin consoled herself with whatever she could pluck out of thin air. “Well, at least people will quit asking to take their picture with me now, or asking me questions about the horse,” she said.

            Well, how’s that going for you, Marlene?

 The respite lasted only until Saturday’s feature race, when a new star emerged, a 6-year-old named Gypsy Melody, a 4-1 selection, after she ran down 3/2 favorite Polar Plunge in the final strides to win the $60,000-guaranteed Lady Slipper Stakes.

            And Marlene was all for keeping it going as long as possible. Hugh Robertson had the horse in Chicago and shipped her in for the race with this caveat: “He wants to give her 30 days off after this race,” Marlene said. “But (her late husband) Bun always said, ‘run them while they’re runnin’.”

            Simple but sage advice in the world of thoroughbred racing. In other words, don’t put them out to pasture while they’re making hay, or something like that.

            Or as winning rider Quincy Hamilton put it, after winning his first career race at Canterbury, “Nice way to break the ice, huh!”

Indeed, indeed.

            Winning trainer Mac Robertson also saddled Somerset Swinger, the third place horse, and Happy Hour Honey, who didn’t hit the board.

            The opening night crowd, certainly reduced by the March air, was a mere five thousand and change.  Not the case on Saturday when a  crowd  more than twice as large turned out, many of them to wager and watch California Chrome win the Preakness Stakes and set up the possibility of the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.


            Got some time to kill tonight? Tune into HR TV’s Inside Information at 7:30 p.m.  for a special on Scott and Gary Stevens. The TV crew visited with Scott three times in Phoenix for the episode. “They even showed up at my grandkid’s birthday party,” Scott said. The special will include segments on the Stevens family, including one that focuses on Gary learning to ride at the hand of his older brother, Scott. This Sunday night special will be repeated later in the evening.


            Alex Canchari, the Minnesota Kid, born and raised in Shakopee, a one-time employee at the track’s taco stand, made a run at the riding title last year but a suspension cost him several wins and he wound up second, two wins behind Dean Butler. Clearly, he wants another shot. He introduced himself once again on Saturday’s card with three wins. Ry Eikleberry, who had a win opening day, is right there with him after winning twice Saturday.

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