Canterbury Connections – October 18-19

Crowd Shot 6-16-13_2Friday, October 18: Canterbury Connections

Hawthorne – Race 8 – Princess Dinah – We only saw one race out of this filly in Minnesota, but her first career start was a doozy for Clay Brinson. She beat a highly-regarded (and heavily bet) Mac Robertson firster named Where’s Alayna after breaking slowly from her rail draw. She wasn’t threatening any track records with the final time, but it was the way she did it that catches the eye. Israel Hernandez, the pilot aboard that day returns in the saddle in Chicago for try number two. The favorite, Maria Maria, does exit the Grade 1 Alcibiades but she only beat two horses home that day in a race that came back too weak to be true in the figure department.

Jimmy DiVito is off to an outstanding start at the fall meet as well, equating to even money or lower on the favorite. Her maiden breaker was a four horse affair; even though two that followed her to the wire won next out, six furlongs may not be her absolute cup of tea. Princess will be a decent price and with her passing ability already confirmed improvement is the next requirement. Her morning works are already a bit better than those leading up to her first start, and she looked green as grass down the stretch despite drawing off.

Lone Star – Race 5 – Sooner Country Babe – How could I not jump at the chance to catch Stacy Charette-Hill at 8-1?! She obviously had her share of issues at two but has grown into a very nice filly in her three year old campaign for Canterbury’s runaway leading quarter horse trainer. She is maybe a little distance challenged but we’ve seen this barn win with horses stretching their limits before. She is SO fleet of foot out of the gate that shorter distances have been no problem, but the extra forty yards will be very telling with this one. She unloaded TOO nice of a race in her trial for the Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Derby Challenge, setting a track record for 400 yards while beating the winner of the final. Still, the price should be there with the horse just to her inside present.

Meadowlands – Race 5 – Stoupinator – This year’s Northbound Pride winner tries stakes company again after a third place finish in at a mile at Delaware. She drew the far outside post but her stalking speed should get her in the thick of things throughout. There is plenty of blazing pace for her to chase and the cutback should have a little extra air in her lungs when the running starts. Traffic has been one of her enemies all year long, and from the outside that should at least be avoidable.

Jose Ferrer & Mac Robertson have been a solid combo in the last five years, winning with 9 of their 33 charges together and hitting the board with over half of them. To be even more exact with that potency, they’ve only put five turf sprinters on the track and only one missed the board… that horse is 0-6 on the grass. Mac just doesn’t send them to the Meadowlands if they don’t have a big shot… and despite the classy lineup to her inside she definitely has one.

 

Saturday, October 19: Canterbury Connections

Turf Paradise – Race 7/Race 8 – ATBA Fall Sales Stakes – Saturday’s late double has combatants from Canterbury in both legs, with Dan McFarlane’s Deadly Black Eagle the lukewarm favorite in the boys division (race 8). In the first half though, recent victress My Fine Lady sits at a fair 3-1 morning line. The favorite in this one won the co-ed spring version of this race at five furlongs in May, but has not entered the starting gate since. Molly Pearson obviously has a talented filly on her hands but with the seasoning in the corner of Doug Oliver’s filly, she stands a very good chance to upset the favorite. The rail draw fits this one perfectly as well, with the strategy very apparent in her past performances. She takes them as far as she can as fast as she can, and now hot-riding Scott Stevens (nearly 30% at this juncture in the meet) will take the call. She can’t string them along for a very long distance, but six furlongs hopefully isn’t too much to ask.

The colts & geldings finish the card up with their turn at the sale stakes. The two qualifying races for this final were pretty straightforward and the winners are the favorites as a result. Deadly Black Eagle is slightly favored though, and deservedly so off his effort in said race. Though the time came back slower, his professional effort was one in a long string, unlike most of his inexperienced competition. His stablemate, Southern Chatter, was a speedy maiden winner up here as well and didn’t run an awful race in defeat behind DBE. He appeared to be making a move on that one around the turn and flattened out in the stretch, somewhat in similar fashion to his first start where he ran second to Tiz Happens. He has some greenness issues to work out but both young ones have ability and McFarlane knows what to do with a good two year old. The price will be a lot better on one that the other…

Remington Park – Race 1 – Waronthehomefront/Oughterson – An uncoupled attack from the Mike Biehler barn shows up for the lid lifter at Remington, and both are at appealing prices. Waronthehomefront, in particular, is set at 8-1 in a relatively paceless field. He was one of the more popular claims this summer but shows up in a nice spot at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. He was only a length behind wire-to-wire winner Nic a Jack at 1 3/8 miles, so the distance shouldn’t be a problem. If all entered hold to form he really shouldn’t have any company up front. Alex Birzer is named to ride, and as of Thursday was riding a 7/24 streak. He seems to be one of those that has a little extra when he inherits a lonely lead. Oughterson is no slouch, but is a bit lighter on the win end when it comes to grass. He’s won the majority of his races on dirt but would be just as happy to see this race come off as stay on the turf. He won’t be too far behind and should be the one to get the first crack at his stablemate in the stretch. There are some game old closers lined up including Canterbury regular Little Wagon, but with so many runners dependent on pace it could end up being a rather slowly run first race with the Ulwellings posing for pictures.

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela just completed her third year as Canterbury Park’s Analyst.

Canterbury Connections – October 18-19

Crowd Shot 6-16-13_2Friday, October 18: Canterbury Connections

Hawthorne – Race 8 – Princess Dinah – We only saw one race out of this filly in Minnesota, but her first career start was a doozy for Clay Brinson. She beat a highly-regarded (and heavily bet) Mac Robertson firster named Where’s Alayna after breaking slowly from her rail draw. She wasn’t threatening any track records with the final time, but it was the way she did it that catches the eye. Israel Hernandez, the pilot aboard that day returns in the saddle in Chicago for try number two. The favorite, Maria Maria, does exit the Grade 1 Alcibiades but she only beat two horses home that day in a race that came back too weak to be true in the figure department.

Jimmy DiVito is off to an outstanding start at the fall meet as well, equating to even money or lower on the favorite. Her maiden breaker was a four horse affair; even though two that followed her to the wire won next out, six furlongs may not be her absolute cup of tea. Princess will be a decent price and with her passing ability already confirmed improvement is the next requirement. Her morning works are already a bit better than those leading up to her first start, and she looked green as grass down the stretch despite drawing off.

Lone Star – Race 5 – Sooner Country Babe – How could I not jump at the chance to catch Stacy Charette-Hill at 8-1?! She obviously had her share of issues at two but has grown into a very nice filly in her three year old campaign for Canterbury’s runaway leading quarter horse trainer. She is maybe a little distance challenged but we’ve seen this barn win with horses stretching their limits before. She is SO fleet of foot out of the gate that shorter distances have been no problem, but the extra forty yards will be very telling with this one. She unloaded TOO nice of a race in her trial for the Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Derby Challenge, setting a track record for 400 yards while beating the winner of the final. Still, the price should be there with the horse just to her inside present.

Meadowlands – Race 5 – Stoupinator – This year’s Northbound Pride winner tries stakes company again after a third place finish in at a mile at Delaware. She drew the far outside post but her stalking speed should get her in the thick of things throughout. There is plenty of blazing pace for her to chase and the cutback should have a little extra air in her lungs when the running starts. Traffic has been one of her enemies all year long, and from the outside that should at least be avoidable.

Jose Ferrer & Mac Robertson have been a solid combo in the last five years, winning with 9 of their 33 charges together and hitting the board with over half of them. To be even more exact with that potency, they’ve only put five turf sprinters on the track and only one missed the board… that horse is 0-6 on the grass. Mac just doesn’t send them to the Meadowlands if they don’t have a big shot… and despite the classy lineup to her inside she definitely has one.

 

Saturday, October 19: Canterbury Connections

Turf Paradise – Race 7/Race 8 – ATBA Fall Sales Stakes – Saturday’s late double has combatants from Canterbury in both legs, with Dan McFarlane’s Deadly Black Eagle the lukewarm favorite in the boys division (race 8). In the first half though, recent victress My Fine Lady sits at a fair 3-1 morning line. The favorite in this one won the co-ed spring version of this race at five furlongs in May, but has not entered the starting gate since. Molly Pearson obviously has a talented filly on her hands but with the seasoning in the corner of Doug Oliver’s filly, she stands a very good chance to upset the favorite. The rail draw fits this one perfectly as well, with the strategy very apparent in her past performances. She takes them as far as she can as fast as she can, and now hot-riding Scott Stevens (nearly 30% at this juncture in the meet) will take the call. She can’t string them along for a very long distance, but six furlongs hopefully isn’t too much to ask.

The colts & geldings finish the card up with their turn at the sale stakes. The two qualifying races for this final were pretty straightforward and the winners are the favorites as a result. Deadly Black Eagle is slightly favored though, and deservedly so off his effort in said race. Though the time came back slower, his professional effort was one in a long string, unlike most of his inexperienced competition. His stablemate, Southern Chatter, was a speedy maiden winner up here as well and didn’t run an awful race in defeat behind DBE. He appeared to be making a move on that one around the turn and flattened out in the stretch, somewhat in similar fashion to his first start where he ran second to Tiz Happens. He has some greenness issues to work out but both young ones have ability and McFarlane knows what to do with a good two year old. The price will be a lot better on one that the other…

Remington Park – Race 1 – Waronthehomefront/Oughterson – An uncoupled attack from the Mike Biehler barn shows up for the lid lifter at Remington, and both are at appealing prices. Waronthehomefront, in particular, is set at 8-1 in a relatively paceless field. He was one of the more popular claims this summer but shows up in a nice spot at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. He was only a length behind wire-to-wire winner Nic a Jack at 1 3/8 miles, so the distance shouldn’t be a problem. If all entered hold to form he really shouldn’t have any company up front. Alex Birzer is named to ride, and as of Thursday was riding a 7/24 streak. He seems to be one of those that has a little extra when he inherits a lonely lead. Oughterson is no slouch, but is a bit lighter on the win end when it comes to grass. He’s won the majority of his races on dirt but would be just as happy to see this race come off as stay on the turf. He won’t be too far behind and should be the one to get the first crack at his stablemate in the stretch. There are some game old closers lined up including Canterbury regular Little Wagon, but with so many runners dependent on pace it could end up being a rather slowly run first race with the Ulwellings posing for pictures.

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela just completed her third year as Canterbury Park’s Analyst.

Relays & Riding Title Drama

Indian Relay_17 9-13-13 BLOGThe spectacle is every bit as good the second time around, although a miscue before the first heat of Friday night’s Indian relay racing shortened the field to three teams.

A horse reared up while his rider attempted to mount and then disappeared into the gloaming of the overhead lights with an outrider in hot pursuit and the rejected rider limping toward the sidelines.

The winning rider put on a show as he strode toward the wire, galloping home easily in front of his two opponents, his back straight as a pillar, his seat a picture of riding precision and unity with the horse.

The winner was LeGrand Coby, a Sho-Ban from Fort Hall, Idaho, riding for the Coby team.

Eliminated was Lynwood His Bad Horse, Jr. from Lame Deer, Mont., a member of the Northern Cheyenne Nation. Second was Miles Murray, of the Blackfeet tribe from Browning, Mont. Third was Lil Muncie, also of the Browning Blackfeet.

The second heat of the night went to a repeat winner. Ferlin Blacksmith of the Montana Crow Agency, riding for the Holds The Enemy team, won a heat on Thursday night’s card also.

Second in that heat was Ashton Old Elk, a Crow from Lodge Grass, Mont, and third was Josh Osborn of the Tissidimit team from Fort Hall, Idaho, a Sho-Ban.

Looking ahead to today’s nine-team championship race, Blacksmith, 21, anticipated a competitive finish. “It’s going to be pretty tough out there tomorrow,” he predicted. He expected the Tissidimit, Coby and White Calf teams to present the biggest challenges.

“This will probably end the relays this year for us,” he added with a trace of sadness.

He plans to return home following today’s championship race and then, perhaps, return to the North Dakota oil fields, where he worked last year.

“I can make some pretty good money there,” Blacksmith said, “working the oil rigs. I’ll do that if I can.”

The relay races, as on Thursday’s card, were conducted after the third and sixth races on the card, which presented an interesting sidebar to the season. As recently as a week ago, Dean Butler, the Canterbury riding champion three consecutive years starting in 2009, had a seven-win lead over Alex Canchari, who was serving a suspension at the time.

Just like that, Canchari came roaring back and with a win aboard Russian Dancer in Friday’s first race cut the margin to one.

Butler wasn’t prepared to stand still with his young rival breathing down his neck and claimed that win back in race four with B J’s Angel. Then he added what might have been the coup de grace, winning the final race on the card with L G Suprem, nipping Lookin at Larry and Canchari at the wire.

Butler and Canchari have mounts in each of Saturday’s 10 races.

And so it went, right into the final day of the 2013 racing season, the 69th day of racing.

Mac Robertson claimed another training title, his ninth straight, the most dominating streak in track history. Midwest Thoroughbreds went into the final day of racing with a four-win lead on Al and Bill Ulwelling, who have no horses running on the final card of the season.

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This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Ulwellings Mount Final Charge

UlwellingsCanterbury Park’s leading owners, referred to as Champion Owners in the official lexicon of the racetrack, were Al and Bill Ulwelling in 2010 and in 2011.

There was an interloper last year by the name of Ruben Martinez, but with time running down in the 2013 meet, the Ulwellings are fully a part of the race, firmly in second place, trailing Midwest Thoroughbreds powerhouse by three wins. In third place, eight behind the Ulwellings, is the Miguel Angel Silva barn, despite the loss this year of the powerful Martinez stable. Curtis Sampson moved into a tie for third on Sunday with his 15th winner of the meet.

The Ulwellings increased their investment substantially this season in response to purse increases. The results are demonstrable. “We beefed up this year,” said Bill. “We had 62 starts last year. “Our goal this year was 125.”

With four starters on Sunday’s card, the Ulwelling barn has now sent out 118 starters for the meet and will exceed their goal in the final days.

“We intend to keep firing,” said Bill. “It’s tough. I tell you that Midwest is firing bullets. We win two and they come back and win two. We win one and they win one. They got one yesterday and we didn’t.”

Bill had hope for something out of Sunday’s card as a catapult in the final 11 days of racing. “If we could get two today it would still be an interesting race,”he said. “It’s hard to beat them, running 20 horses for $4,000.”

This much is certain said Ulwelling, who once tested the odds by claiming horses from this adversary. “Everything we ever claimed from them never hit the board for us. They taught us a lesson,” said Bill.

The Ulwellings do have this for consolation:

Midwest Thoroughbreds horses had earnings of $343,180 heading into Sunday’s card. The Ulwelling horses had collected $422,270.

FROM THE BOTTOM UP

The stakes winners get the headlines. The attention declines from there in the sport of racing, downward to the point that a horse at the bottom of racing’s pecking order is routinely ignored, his or her name rarely if ever spoken, unless in contempt.

It can be a long climb into some sort of positive recognition. Many horses never get even a nod in that arena. A horse in Sunday’s second race got a small one.

Smart Masterpiece proved to be a smart bet for anyone who liked him, and the Canchari connection came through for those who did.

Trained by Luis Canchari and ridden by his son, Patrick, Smart Balance took a stunningly close win from Sal ‘Z Romeo in a true photo finish.

Thus, Smart Masterpiece divested himself of maiden status in his 19th start, picking up $10,000, twice the sum of his previous total earnings and just more than 10 percent of his original purchase price.

The original owner of Smart Masterpiece had a positive hunch about the 4-year-old gelding when a yearling and laid down $95,000 at a Keeneland sale for the son of Smart Strike from Showpiece and the grandson of Mr. Prospector and Holy Bull. Whatever promise that buyer saw translated into a mere $17,578 in earnings and maiden status before Sunday’s race.

The horse wound up in the Canchari barn in an undisclosed acquisition and ran his first race for them on June 14.

Here’s a look at the horse’s PPs over the course of his drop from $12,500 to $6,250 company with Canchari: 6th, 5th, 4th, 4th, 2nd, 1st.

That’s called progress, just enough to earn recognition among racing’s daily occurrences, in the small agate type of the sport.

And for those who believed…

Recognition in the form of $19.80 for a $2 ticket.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Races Heat Up

Two Bayme -  08-15-13 - R02 - CBY - Inside FinishThursday’s card was the 51st of the meet.

So, let’s see now, that means there are 18 racing days remaining in this, the 19th meeting since racing resumed in Shakopee after a two-year-shutdown, under the name Canterbury Park instead of Downs.

Naturally, the focus on the leading rider, trainer and owner will draw increased scrutiny in these final days.

On Thursday night for instance:

The card got under way with Dean P. Butler holding a five-win lead over Alex Canchari, 47-42, in the rider standings. However, Canchari will begin a four-day suspension today that will have an impact on the final results. Next in line is Ry Eilkleberry who started the evening with 36 winners.

The fun began from there.

Eilkleberry won two races on the card, with Artistic Design in the first and Hannahslittleangel in the sixth.

Canchari, still on a tear that started two weeks ago, won the fourth race with Moonshine Promise at 9-1. Aha, but Butler took that one right back, winning aboard Ghost Skier in race five.

Meanwhile, Juan Rivera (pictured above on Two Bayme), struggling for wins this meet, rode two winners on the card,Two Bayme in race two and Supremo Struckgold in race seven, and has 10 for the meet.

The race for leading trainer, won by Mac Robertson since just before mud caulks were introduced to racing, actually every year since 2005, went unchanged at the top of the standings Thursday.

It looks like this: Mike Biehler leads with 28, followed by Robertson with 27 and Bernell Rhone with 26. Robertson, incidentally, needs five wins to reach 500 at Canterbury Park.

The top of the owner standings went unchanged, too: Midwest Thoroughbreds leads with 21 winners, followed by Al and Bill Ulwelling, champions in 2010 and 2011, with 20.

HE IS INDEED RELENTLESS

Hes Relentless continues to demonstrate he is just that – relentless. Once again, this two-year-old under the care of trainer Amber Blair has been impressive on the racetrack, this time posting the fastest qualifying time, 21.148, among the top five horses in heats Thursday at Ruidoso Downs for the All American Futurity.

Hes Relentless Race Replay

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Thursday’s qualifiers will join today’s five qualifiers – the first time trials have been conducted over two days – in the Grade 1 $2.6 million All American on Labor Day. Fourteen trials were conducted Thursday and the same number will be run Friday.

Hes Relentless, running for R.D. Hubbard, Tom Maher and Johnny Cope was supplemented to the race for $50,000, as was Especially Tres, the second fastest qualifier on Thursday with a time of 21.191.

Hes Relentless was the fastest qualifier also for the Heritage Place Futurity on June 1, winning his heat by 4 ¼ lengths, at Remington Park and was sent off the favorite in the Futurity. He was beaten a head by Big Biz Perry, a 30-1 longshot. Big Biz Perry won one of Thursday’s trials for the All American but did not qualify for the final.

Other qualifiers on Thursday include Especially Tres, Handsome Jack Flash and Houdini. You N How Many More and Fly Thru The Fire finished tied Thursday with identical times of 21.27.  You N How Many More won a draw on Friday morning for the fifth and final spot in the All American Finals.

NOTABLE QUOTES THIS MONTH, ANY MONTH

Lori Keith, describing her horse’s demeanor heading into the first turn of the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby.

Dorsett, who would win the race handily, was relaxed, maybe too relaxed heading into the first turn. “It was like he was asleep,” recalled Keith. “I didn’t want to be too far back, so I gave him a little s-m-o-o-c-h.”

Wide awake, just like that. And then some.

Dorsett snapped to attention with such gusto, Keith decided on the spot that a reminder was probably not necessary. “I didn’t smooch to him again,” she said. “He just took off when I did that one time.”

Seis The Royal Cash, at 16-1, won the North Central Quarter Horse Futurity, breaking from the No. 1 hole. The rail had been fast earlier in the meet, evened out and then went back to the rail.

Thus, Vic Hanson sized up his horse’s win thusly:

“We drew well,” he said.

A youngster next to the winner’s circle spotted Israel Hernandez, all 5-foot-1 of him, heading down the steps after a race. “He looks like a real jockey,” he said.

Richard Grunder

Just after the fifth race on Thursday, a notice was posted on the screen next to the tote board wishing announcer Richard Grunder a happy birthday. A picture of Grunder, circa 1989, accompanied the message.

“I keep it from everyone in the racing office all day,” Grunder moaned, “and then it gets displayed on the big screen.”

The source of the leak? Julian Assange? Edward Snowden?

Grunder had some thoughts on the matter, but nothing firm enough to make an arrest.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

2013 Derby Day Nears

HAMMERS TERROR_The Mystic Lake Derby_07-28-12_CBY_Inside FinishOccasionally she’ll think about the race and the biggest win of her career, the stuff of warm feelings and pleasant thoughts, except for that interminable wait.

“It was intense, wasn’t it though,” says Lori Keith.

The subject at hand, of course, is the inaugural Mystic Lake Derby first held in 2012 and Keith’s controversial win aboard Hammers Terror. About half the grandstand thought the horse should have been taken down. The other half sided with Keith’s horse.

So did the Stewards, who ruled that Hammer Terror did in fact veer in front of Delegation in the final yards but the action did not change the outcome of the race in their view. Nonetheless they gave Keith days, even after she sweated out the decision on the race for what seemed like an eternity.

Keith talked about the race as she headed to the paddock on Sunday for the third race, which she won aboard Francisco Bravo’s Free Sailing.

She is hopeful of riding in the second Mystic Lake Derby next Saturday, for the same owner whose horse she rode last year.

“Things can change,” she said, “but there’s a good chance .” She referred to a three-year old colt named Dorsett, owned by Terry Hamilton and trained by Michael Stidham, who have the same connections as Hammers Terror, the 2012 champ.

Hamilton has talked about how great it would be to win the first two Mystic Lake Derbys. He has to run a horse for that to happen, of course.

The $200,000 Derby will be run on the same card with the $100,000 Northbound Pride Oaks and the $100,000 Shakopee Juvenile Stakes. All three to be run over the Canterbury turf course.

Questions about the second rendition of the Mystic Lake Derby abound at this point:

Will Dorsett indeed run and will the field include a Java’s War, a longshot who finished 13th in this year’s Kentucky Derby and, although nominated to the Derby, is a longshot to appear in next Saturday’s race?

Undrafted, owned by New England Patriots defector and current Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, has been nominated also.

Other nominees include Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s You Blue and Leaden In Ken, along with Bill and Al Ulwelling’s Finding Candy. In total, nearly 100 horses were nominated for the trifecta of grass races next Saturday.

The draw is scheduled on Wednesday for all three races.

My Corinthian, trained by Dan Kobiskie and scheduled to arrive Monday, will run in the Juvenile and will be the first horse on the grounds for Saturday’s stakes events.

The Shakopee Juvenile, at 7 and 1/2 furlongs on the turf, will be run for the first time. The Oaks, at a mile on the turf, was won last year by Soonerette, owned by Robert Zoellner, ridden by riding champ Tanner Riggs and trained by Donnie Von Hemel. The purse this year is $100,000, for the first time since 1995, when the Carl Nafzger-trained Fluffkins won. Von Hemel nominated no horses to the Oaks but has nominated Smack Smack, owned by Dream Walkin’ Farms, Inc. (the stable name of renowned country music singer Toby Keith) to the Juvenile.

CANCHARI SURGES IN JOCKEY STANDINGS

Alex Canchari, the Minnesota Kid as he refers to himself, surged this week into second place in the rider standings, riding seven winners to wind up Sunday night with 31 winners for the meet.

That’s eight behind the leader, Dean Butler, a three-time champion. Ry Eikleberry had only one winner for the week and slipped into third place with 30 wins, followed by Lori Keith with 29 and Hall of Fame rider Derek Bell and Eddie Martin, Jr. at 25 wins each. Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens is next with 23 wins.

There was no change in positions among the track’s top trainers. Mike Biehler continues in front with 24 wins, followed by Bernell Rhone with 22 and Mac Robertson with 21.

Stormy Smith, who rode the winner of the Bob Morehouse Stakes, Western Fun, on Saturday, continues to lead the quarter horse riders. He has 16 wins. Jorge Torres is next with 14.

SUNDAY HAPPENINGS

You Be Gator Bait, trained by Mac Robertson, is nominated but won’t run in the Shakopee Juvenile, not with a mere week’s rest. He won the opening race on Sunday’s card for Minnesota-bred maidens with Chris Fackler up. “He’s a hard worker,” Robertson said of the winning rider. The most likely spot to see the Minnesota-bred next will be on the 2013 Festival of Champions card in the Northern Lights Futurity.

Martin Escobar was the only double winner among the riders Sunday, with Hard Cider in the sixth and Scorsese in the seventh, his 10th and 11th winners of the meet.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Royal Birth Touches Canterbury

Canterbury%20Park%207-25-13Superstitions abound around any racetrack, among the riders, the trainers and the public as well.

So wrap your belief in signs, omens, precursors and presentiments around this tidbit: birthdays were being celebrated along with actual births at Canterbury Park on Thursday and some of the results were eye-opening.

Lori Keith, Canterbury’s third leading rider at the moment, was talking with her father very recently, as she does most days. Keep in mind, Ms. Keith is English and her parents, English as well, of course, own a restaurant in the South of France.

Naturally, phone conversations take place via long distance.

The subject of the recent royal birth came up the last time father and daughter talked. Ms. Keith was reminded by her father that she celebrated her 31st birthday on the very day George Alexander Louis, son to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, was born.

Furthermore:

“He was born at St. Mary’s Hospital, the same place I was born,” said Ms. Keith.

Read what you may or must into that bit of information. It is interesting under any conditions, perhaps even fortuitous. At least the Ulwellings, Al and Bill, hoped as much after receiving the news about the royal connection to the woman riding their horse.

“You can’t make up stuff like that,” said Al.

“Maybe that means good luck. I hope so,” said Bill.

After all, Keith had mounts on Ulwelling horses in the sixth and seventh races. She finished out of the money on the Ulwellings’ Gilden Quest in race six. Then the belief in lucky charms proved reliable as Keith won the seventh aboard Sheisinittowinit, surviving a stewards’ inquiry in the process.

For her part, Keith had different notions entirely about the fact that the new English prince and she were born on the same date, at the same hospital.

“It’s pretty cool,” she said.

So, there you have it. A prince of England born at St. Mary’s Hospital in London at the same location and on the same date as the third-leading rider at Canterbury – I say Canterbury – Park in Shakopee.

It doesn’t end there. As Minnesota Twins fans and anyone able to read well know, the team’s catcher from St. Paul and his wife are the proud parents of fraternal twin girls.

Identical twin boys, Colton and Cooper, were born the same day to the grandson and significant other of Tom and Karen Metzen. So the Metzens are great grandparents and celebrated the occasion on Thursday evening with the winning horse, Awesome year, in race six. The trainer? David Van Winkle, who was celebrating his 50th birthday. It didn’t end there. The Van Winkle-trained Jantzesfancyfriend won the ninth race, too.

Rebecca Ramm, who handles the main phone line to Canterbury among other duties, including coffee making, was also celebrating. Her friend Shahara is the mother to the twin boys.

Maybe there is something to this omen thing, after all.

HBPA GOLF TOURNAMENT

Jack Walsh, the preeminent horse owner from Somerset, Wis., oversaw the HBPA Golf Tournament Monday for the third consecutive year and reported that 86 signed up for the tournament and 85 showed up.

“That’s unusual,” Walsh said.

The tournament was won, incidentally, by the team of Chad and Mark Anderson, Mike Chambers and Todd Rarick.

They finished at 14 under par.

“Chambers eagled the ninth hole, I think it was,” said Mark Anderson. “That sort of pumped up the team from there.”

THURSDAY TIDBITS

Alex Canchari strolled into the jockeys room after winning the third race aboard Wilhelmina, blood running from one of his hands. What happened? he was asked.

“The band aid came off,” he said. Canchari, who once made tacos in the taco stand at the track, cut the hand while preparing a meal for his parents. “I was opening a can,” he said.

Race four was won by Larren Delorme on Premodixon, sent off at 13-1, a complete surprise to the rider.

“I figured I had a good shot,” said Delorme. “He was legitimate. More consistent (than 13-1).”

Race five went to Hakuchi, trained by Robertino Diodoro and ridden to a second straight win by Scott Stevens. “Only two mounts I’ve had for him,” said Stevens.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

MTA Stakes Cap Weekend

B%20J%27s%20Angel%20-%20MTA%20Stallion%20Auction%20Lassie%20Stakes%20-%2007-21-13%20-%20R03%20-%20CBY%20-%20FinishA horse with a bad foot and another with a good turn of foot grabbed the headlines on an otherwise leisurely Sunday afternoon

One day after a record turnout of 20,000-plus crammed the nooks and crannies of the place, Canterbury Park took on a relaxed and casual demeanor, but there were three winners on this particular day, at least their connections, who didn’t fall in line.

Winners have every right to carry on a bit. They are forgiven their peccadilloes for a given period of time after having their pictures taken.

Especially first-time winners and those still paying off their purchase price.

Especially first-time winners running for a guaranteed $35,000 purse and first-time winners trying for the 40th time.

And, in particular, horses trying to pay off their $40,000 claiming price.

So, there you have it – a breakdown of gleeful winners on a quiet Sunday, a day without Zebras, Camels or birds sometimes associated with a nice pair of boots.

B.J.’s Angel, pictured above, was the first of the three to get the cameras flashing, winning the MTA Stallion Auction Stakes, and the first-place share of $35,000, with leading rider Dean Butler up.

A 3-year-old filly by Stormy Business from Demiparfait, B.J.’s Angel erased any lingering doubts about the left back tendon she tore running into a fence by outrunning four rivals, finishing 4 and ¾ lengths in front of Tra Kela and another head in front of Kerisma.

Owner/breeder Dave Astar talked afterward about the incident in which his horse ran into a fence, tearing a tendon that was later repaired by Anoka Equine surgeons. He, himself, twice tore an Achilles tendon in athletic events, so he had a first-hand experience with which to view the situation.

“It’s a funny-looking left foot,” he said in reference to the horse. Similar to the description he applied to his own appendage.

One race later, a horse named Bet Your Life, with Lori Keith aboard, took charge on the turn, stayed in command thereafter, and won by 1 and ¼ lengths over Sugar Business, who had 4 and ½ lengths on Lil’ Apollo.

Keith didn’t need much direction from trainer Mike Biehler before this one. “He just wished me good luck,” she said.

When you are “much the best” even that much “direction” might be construed as redundant.

The winner was claimed for $40,000 at Oaklawn Park by Al and Bill Ulwelling and picked up more than half its purchase price with the victory, worth $21,000.

“We got lucky with the rain,” said Al.

“Well, a three-year-old often is better than he was at two,” said Bill.

The track was officially “sloppy” for the first five races but dried steadily from the first race onward

It had hardened just enough to benefit a 6-year-old mare named Dear Hrishi to break her maiden in her 40th start during four years of racing.

Yes, that is correct, she had started 39 times without finishing first.

She had 12 seconds and 11 thirds in those previous starts but had banked $84,223. Thus, when she claimed the winner’s share of Sunday’s $25,000 maiden special weight purse, her earnings exceeded $100,000.

Each time Dear Hrishi ran a race without a win, owner/breeder Rodney Miller was assured of some commentary from acquaintances on the first floor of the grandstand.

He was reminded on Sunday that he had taken away that specific needle from his colleagues, but had also broken the (maiden) bank that Dear Hrishi had been filling with checks.

“I think she benefitted from the rain and the track was drying out,” said Miller.

“She hadn’t run well on a (really) off track.”

Despite her previous failure to post a win, Dear Hrishi always put on a game face. Miller would take her home for the winter and she put on a face. “She wouldn’t let me touch her,” he said. “She come up to me but always stay about six inches away. I couldn’t pet her like I did my other horses.”

Once she reached the track in the spring, however, it was another matter. “She was ready to go,” he said.

That was the case again on Sunday, but with a different outcome.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Biehler Nears Milestone

Michael E Biehler 5-25-13Mike Biehler left Fairmont for Shakopee in 1985, the year Canterbury Downs opened, and quickly landed a job at the Malkerson farm nearby. He had worked with show horses as a young man and also studied animal science at Waseca Community College.

Biehler wrestled at 126 pounds in high school and then Waseca CC. He had no idea upon his arrival in Shakopee that wrestling 1,200-pound racehorses would one day become his occupation.

After working the farm that first year he found work galloping horses the next few meets for various barns on the Canterbury backside, including one of the prestigious outfits on the grounds, the well manicured stable run by D. Wayne Lukas.

Then, in 1989, an opportunity arose that would permanently alter his career path – training horses for Curtis Sampson.

All of that seemed so long Saturday afternoon as Biehler stood next to a television monitor on the first floor of the grandstand, awaiting the start of race four.

As Biehler waited, a fellow approached him and stuck out his hand. “Haven’t seen you for ages,” the man said, recounting events and people from over the years. A brief conversation ensued. Afterwards, Biehler said that he probably hadn’t seen the fellow since 1989 when the two of them worked for the Sampsons.

Happenstance, coincidence, whatever, it was a strange interlude to the day’s proceedings.

Biehler’s attention returned to the task at hand. He had two chances to win the fourth race, with Sheisinittowinit, ridden by Lori Keith, and with Getting Birdie, ridden by Derek Bell.

Getting Birdie hit the wire first, leaving Biehler a mere two wins short of 500 in Shakopee (he has 671 overall), a milestone that will arrive if not today or tomorrow then surely quite soon.

Biehler shook his head at mention of the imminent milestone and smiled.

“Who keeps that sort of thing?” he asked.

The short answer is that it’s all part of the ongoing account of statistics kept on riders, horses, trainers and owners that make up libraries at most racetracks, a vast compilation of information that answers requirements of handicappers, sportswriters and unread media guides.

Biehler won his first career races that summer of 1989 – “a couple of them,” he said – and began branching out to such locations as Aksarben, Grand Island, Prairie Meadows and later Remington Park and Oaklawn Park.

Now he has the largest stable of his career in Shakopee, 55 horses, as he chases much improved purses, doubled from previous summers, due to the business agreement with the Mdewankaton Sioux Community at Mystic Lake.

Twenty-five of those horses are owned by the Ulwellings, Al and Bill, who increased their holdings as well.

Biehler has been part of the racing landscape in Shakopee from the start. Perhaps his fondest memory over time is the re-opening of Canterbury in 1995. “I think so,” he said. “I was really afraid it would never re-open. I never imagined that the Sampsons would be the ones to save it.”

Biehler won the training title at Canterbury Downs in 1992 with 30 wins but downplays that achievement. “That came about the time everybody was bailing out,” he said. Besides, he’s become more a pragmatist over the years. Winning titles is nice, but…

“I’m a lot more concerned with making money,” he responded.

Fundraiser Set for Randy Weidner

A fundraiser to help Randy Weidner, who lost 12 horses as well as vehicles in the recent Oklahoma tornado, is scheduled for June 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Silks and will include an auction – saddles and such – and music.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography

Biehler Nears Milestone

Michael E Biehler 5-25-13Mike Biehler left Fairmont for Shakopee in 1985, the year Canterbury Downs opened, and quickly landed a job at the Malkerson farm nearby. He had worked with show horses as a young man and also studied animal science at Waseca Community College.

Biehler wrestled at 126 pounds in high school and then Waseca CC. He had no idea upon his arrival in Shakopee that wrestling 1,200-pound racehorses would one day become his occupation.

After working the farm that first year he found work galloping horses the next few meets for various barns on the Canterbury backside, including one of the prestigious outfits on the grounds, the well manicured stable run by D. Wayne Lukas.

Then, in 1989, an opportunity arose that would permanently alter his career path – training horses for Curtis Sampson.

All of that seemed so long Saturday afternoon as Biehler stood next to a television monitor on the first floor of the grandstand, awaiting the start of race four.

As Biehler waited, a fellow approached him and stuck out his hand. “Haven’t seen you for ages,” the man said, recounting events and people from over the years. A brief conversation ensued. Afterwards, Biehler said that he probably hadn’t seen the fellow since 1989 when the two of them worked for the Sampsons.

Happenstance, coincidence, whatever, it was a strange interlude to the day’s proceedings.

Biehler’s attention returned to the task at hand. He had two chances to win the fourth race, with Sheisinittowinit, ridden by Lori Keith, and with Getting Birdie, ridden by Derek Bell.

Getting Birdie hit the wire first, leaving Biehler a mere two wins short of 500 in Shakopee (he has 671 overall), a milestone that will arrive if not today or tomorrow then surely quite soon.

Biehler shook his head at mention of the imminent milestone and smiled.

“Who keeps that sort of thing?” he asked.

The short answer is that it’s all part of the ongoing account of statistics kept on riders, horses, trainers and owners that make up libraries at most racetracks, a vast compilation of information that answers requirements of handicappers, sportswriters and unread media guides.

Biehler won his first career races that summer of 1989 – “a couple of them,” he said – and began branching out to such locations as Aksarben, Grand Island, Prairie Meadows and later Remington Park and Oaklawn Park.

Now he has the largest stable of his career in Shakopee, 55 horses, as he chases much improved purses, doubled from previous summers, due to the business agreement with the Mdewankaton Sioux Community at Mystic Lake.

Twenty-five of those horses are owned by the Ulwellings, Al and Bill, who increased their holdings as well.

Biehler has been part of the racing landscape in Shakopee from the start. Perhaps his fondest memory over time is the re-opening of Canterbury in 1995. “I think so,” he said. “I was really afraid it would never re-open. I never imagined that the Sampsons would be the ones to save it.”

Biehler won the training title at Canterbury Downs in 1992 with 30 wins but downplays that achievement. “That came about the time everybody was bailing out,” he said. Besides, he’s become more a pragmatist over the years. Winning titles is nice, but…

“I’m a lot more concerned with making money,” he responded.

Fundraiser Set for Randy Weidner

A fundraiser to help Randy Weidner, who lost 12 horses as well as vehicles in the recent Oklahoma tornado, is scheduled for June 5, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Silks and will include an auction – saddles and such – and music.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Photo Courtesy of Coady Photography