Canterbury Qs Invade Iowa

Prairie Meadows hosts a huge day of racing this Saturday with qualifying races for the Bank of America Challenge Championships. The finals for the event will be held this year for the first time at Prairie Meadows on October 27. This racing series is the quarter horse equivalent of the Breeders’ Cup with the best of the breed vying for six divisional titles.

There will be a qualifier held for each of the six divisions this Saturday with the winner of each race being awarded a spot in the Championship Final. Qualifiers are held all across the United States and other parts of North and South America throughout the year with winners qualifying from tracks as far away as Brazil. For more information on the Challenge Championships, check out the website.

Numerous Canterbury Park runners have made their way south for the qualifying races, here’s a look at some of the local hopefuls including 2012 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above).

Race 4: The Distaff Challenge

#1 Believer’s Gathering (2-1), runner-up to Huckleberry Mojito in the Fillies Race for Hope Stakes on August 4th is the morning line for the Distaff. She ran a big third last time out behind Cruzin the Wagon, 2011 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet.

#2 Paint or More (6-1), winner of the 2011 NCQHRA Futurity and all three of her 2011 starts at Canterbury in 2011 had a tough year to this point. She ran behind Huckleberry Mojito in all three of her races at Canterbury this year and was beaten by Believer’s Gathering by 2 lengths in their lone meeting.

#3 Streakin Rare (3-1) was another that ran in the Fillies for Hope Stakes on August 4th. She ran fourth beaten a length by Believer’s Gathering and one to the better of Paint or More.

#4 Rumba Casino (5-1) rounds out the local hopefuls in the Distaff. She put in two dull efforts at Canterbury this summer losing an allowance by more than three lengths and finishing last of the contenders here in the Fillies Race for Hope Stakes.

Race 5: The Starter Allowance

#5 Whiz Happens (15-1) struggled at Canterbury this summer only hitting the ticket once and never finishing better than sixth in his other efforts. Outsider.

#7 Jess Choo and Me (8-1) won a restricted $10k claimer and ran fifth in the 100-yard dash on Extreme Day but appears to be a cut below the best.

#8 Sweet and Sour Uno (15-1) had two fifths and a seventh this summer at Canterbury. Would be a surprise.

#10 Toast to Invictus (8-1) put in three solid efforts this summer for Amber Blair recording two wins and a third against softer company. Luark is aboard.

#11 Summit Bid (10-1) may have the best chance of the locals as this guy put in two solid seconds behind stakes runners at Canterbury this summer. Won the Challenge race for the Bank of America Derby at Canterbury Park in 2010 so he’s run big in these races before. Top North American quarter horse rider G.R. Carter will have the call.

Race 6: The Distance Challenge

#4 Colosso (6-1) hails from the barn of Jerry Livingston and made his debut around the hook last time running a solid second in one of the trials for this race. That was from the rail and draws the four hole tonight. More work cut out for him here. Jordan, Minn. native Marcus Swiontek has the call.

#7 Jess Another Reb (6-1) shipped into Canterbury and ran a good second to hook horse extraordinaire Dangerous Guns after being left at the break. Luark has the call today but he may have last all chance at the draw. The seven post will be a challenge.

Race 7: The Derby Challenge

#1 Mr Corona Blue (6-1) stopped in Shakopee for one start before the Prairie Meadows meet and it didn’t go very well finishing sixth in a field of eight. Tom Wellington will be aboard.

#5 Huckleberry Mojito (3-1), the 2012 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet, was dominant in winning all three of her races this summer at Canterbury. This Ed Ross Hardy trainee has really turned it on as a three-year-old and she’s the morning line favorite for the Derby. Vazquez takes the call replacing Goodwin, her regular rider in Minnesota.

#7 Painted Lies (5-1) also put together a three-race win streak this summer at Canterbury before having her’s derailed by Mojito. Amber Blair’s runner is certainly taking down Mojito if Huckleberry encounters any trouble. It’s all about getting a clean trip!

Race 8: The Juvenile Challenge

#1 Girls Don’t Seis (12-1) ran second in a futurity trial at Canterbury on July 22 after a smashing maiden-breaking victory at Boise. In tough against these.

#2 Cats Meow Too (15-1) won a maiden race on August 3rd at Canterbury but was subsequently disqualified. Won her trial race for this but in a rather unimpressive time.

#6 Hastabealeader (8-1) ran a first, second and third in three futurities this summer in Shakopee earning over $25,000. Another that needs to see his time improve over the trial by over three tenths of a second.

#10 Outlaw Memories (8-1) is undefeated in three starts with wins at Canterbury, Fargo and Prairie Meadows. Best trial time of the local contingent but has never dealt with the outside post in his three race career, will need a straight trip but not without a chance.

Race 9: The Championship Challenge

#2 Where’s Your Wagon (15-1) finished second in the Skip Zimmerman Stakes as the favorite behind Hollywood Trickster in May and then came back to cruise to an easy allowance victory on August 3rd. The water is far deeper here and this is by far the toughest race of his career.

#7 Paintyourownwagon (12-1) won an allowance in June and then ran behind Hollywood Trickster in the July 3 Great Lakes Stakes at tonight’s championship distance of 440-yards. Wellington has the call.

These two will have their work cut out for them as they both go up against one of the best in America in Llano Teller, winner of 11 of 22 lifetime races and over $1.67 million in earnings throughout his racing career.

Don’t miss out on this great racing action this Saturday from Prairie Meadows. First post on the ten race program is 6:30PM. Watch and wager at Canterbury Park!

Canterbury Qs Invade Iowa

Prairie Meadows hosts a huge day of racing this Saturday with qualifying races for the Bank of America Challenge Championships. The finals for the event will be held this year for the first time at Prairie Meadows on October 27. This racing series is the quarter horse equivalent of the Breeders’ Cup with the best of the breed vying for six divisional titles.

There will be a qualifier held for each of the six divisions this Saturday with the winner of each race being awarded a spot in the Championship Final. Qualifiers are held all across the United States and other parts of North and South America throughout the year with winners qualifying from tracks as far away as Brazil. For more information on the Challenge Championships, check out the website.

Numerous Canterbury Park runners have made their way south for the qualifying races, here’s a look at some of the local hopefuls including 2012 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above).

Race 4: The Distaff Challenge

#1 Believer’s Gathering (2-1), runner-up to Huckleberry Mojito in the Fillies Race for Hope Stakes on August 4th is the morning line for the Distaff. She ran a big third last time out behind Cruzin the Wagon, 2011 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet.

#2 Paint or More (6-1), winner of the 2011 NCQHRA Futurity and all three of her 2011 starts at Canterbury in 2011 had a tough year to this point. She ran behind Huckleberry Mojito in all three of her races at Canterbury this year and was beaten by Believer’s Gathering by 2 lengths in their lone meeting.

#3 Streakin Rare (3-1) was another that ran in the Fillies for Hope Stakes on August 4th. She ran fourth beaten a length by Believer’s Gathering and one to the better of Paint or More.

#4 Rumba Casino (5-1) rounds out the local hopefuls in the Distaff. She put in two dull efforts at Canterbury this summer losing an allowance by more than three lengths and finishing last of the contenders here in the Fillies Race for Hope Stakes.

Race 5: The Starter Allowance

#5 Whiz Happens (15-1) struggled at Canterbury this summer only hitting the ticket once and never finishing better than sixth in his other efforts. Outsider.

#7 Jess Choo and Me (8-1) won a restricted $10k claimer and ran fifth in the 100-yard dash on Extreme Day but appears to be a cut below the best.

#8 Sweet and Sour Uno (15-1) had two fifths and a seventh this summer at Canterbury. Would be a surprise.

#10 Toast to Invictus (8-1) put in three solid efforts this summer for Amber Blair recording two wins and a third against softer company. Luark is aboard.

#11 Summit Bid (10-1) may have the best chance of the locals as this guy put in two solid seconds behind stakes runners at Canterbury this summer. Won the Challenge race for the Bank of America Derby at Canterbury Park in 2010 so he’s run big in these races before. Top North American quarter horse rider G.R. Carter will have the call.

Race 6: The Distance Challenge

#4 Colosso (6-1) hails from the barn of Jerry Livingston and made his debut around the hook last time running a solid second in one of the trials for this race. That was from the rail and draws the four hole tonight. More work cut out for him here. Jordan, Minn. native Marcus Swiontek has the call.

#7 Jess Another Reb (6-1) shipped into Canterbury and ran a good second to hook horse extraordinaire Dangerous Guns after being left at the break. Luark has the call today but he may have last all chance at the draw. The seven post will be a challenge.

Race 7: The Derby Challenge

#1 Mr Corona Blue (6-1) stopped in Shakopee for one start before the Prairie Meadows meet and it didn’t go very well finishing sixth in a field of eight. Tom Wellington will be aboard.

#5 Huckleberry Mojito (3-1), the 2012 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet, was dominant in winning all three of her races this summer at Canterbury. This Ed Ross Hardy trainee has really turned it on as a three-year-old and she’s the morning line favorite for the Derby. Vazquez takes the call replacing Goodwin, her regular rider in Minnesota.

#7 Painted Lies (5-1) also put together a three-race win streak this summer at Canterbury before having her’s derailed by Mojito. Amber Blair’s runner is certainly taking down Mojito if Huckleberry encounters any trouble. It’s all about getting a clean trip!

Race 8: The Juvenile Challenge

#1 Girls Don’t Seis (12-1) ran second in a futurity trial at Canterbury on July 22 after a smashing maiden-breaking victory at Boise. In tough against these.

#2 Cats Meow Too (15-1) won a maiden race on August 3rd at Canterbury but was subsequently disqualified. Won her trial race for this but in a rather unimpressive time.

#6 Hastabealeader (8-1) ran a first, second and third in three futurities this summer in Shakopee earning over $25,000. Another that needs to see his time improve over the trial by over three tenths of a second.

#10 Outlaw Memories (8-1) is undefeated in three starts with wins at Canterbury, Fargo and Prairie Meadows. Best trial time of the local contingent but has never dealt with the outside post in his three race career, will need a straight trip but not without a chance.

Race 9: The Championship Challenge

#2 Where’s Your Wagon (15-1) finished second in the Skip Zimmerman Stakes as the favorite behind Hollywood Trickster in May and then came back to cruise to an easy allowance victory on August 3rd. The water is far deeper here and this is by far the toughest race of his career.

#7 Paintyourownwagon (12-1) won an allowance in June and then ran behind Hollywood Trickster in the July 3 Great Lakes Stakes at tonight’s championship distance of 440-yards. Wellington has the call.

These two will have their work cut out for them as they both go up against one of the best in America in Llano Teller, winner of 11 of 22 lifetime races and over $1.67 million in earnings throughout his racing career.

Don’t miss out on this great racing action this Saturday from Prairie Meadows. First post on the ten race program is 6:30PM. Watch and wager at Canterbury Park!

Goodwin Makes the Right Call

Nik Goodwin (pictured on Huckleberry Mojito) was making the rounds of the barns with his agent, Jesse Lomelli, a week or so before the meet got under way in May. They were trying to scare up business, but that immediate business was interrupted by a phone call.

The Ed Ross Hardy barn was on the line and wanted to know if Goodwin was willing to ride first call for them during the upcoming meet.

How long did it take did him to make up his mind?

“Instantly,” he said. “I didn’t even need to think about it.”

Goodwin had second call, behind Tad Leggett, for the Hardys in 2007 and wound up sharing the riding title with Jennifer Schmidt.

The Hardy barn has won 11 training titles since 2000, including this year’s, and Goodwin liked working with them; the decision was an easy matter.

“They have nice horses. They’re nice people. I didn’t have to think about it all,” Goodwin said. “I decided instantly.”

An excellent gut response.

Goodwin surged to the lead in the riding standings early this summer and wound up winning the title without so much as a threat, finishing nine wins in front of Clyde Henry Smith.

Goodwin rode 56 quarter horses during the meet for a 21-19-6 record and earnings of $172,505.

The other day, Goodwin was recalling that May morning when Lomelli got the call from the Hardy barn and informed him of the details at the end of the call. “Do you want to ride first call for the Hardys?” Lomelli asked.

“Absolutely,” Goodwin recalled. “That’s what I said.”

Goodwin has had a good meet on thoroughbreds as well, with 27 wins. He is currently in sixth place, with total earnings of more than $375,000.

He came to Canterbury with the thoroughbred meet uppermost in mind this season, but has had solid quarter horse meets in the past and didn’t hesitate to jump at the opportunity provided him by the Hardys.

If he doesn’t win another race this season, it has been a decided improvement over the 2010 meet when he spent seven weeks on the sidelines with a broken collarbone.

In addition to the other riding title at Canterbury, Goodwin was the leading rider at Assiniboia Downs in 1997. He is a native of the Minnesota’s White Earth Ojibway reservation and graduated from Bemidji High School, where he was on the wrestling team.

Maybe there is a certain karma to the fact that the only horse in the Goodwin barn the summer of 1986 was a quarter horse.

Nik’s father, Duane, trained that single horse during the first quarter horse race meet at Canterbury Park. Now this many years later, Nik is Canterbury’s quarter horse champ once again.

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 Credit: Coady Photography

Quarter Horse Racing Winding Down

Canterbury’s 2012 quarter horse meet has essentially come to a close with only a couple of stakes races remaining. If you’ve become attached to these sprinters, don’t despair: the quarter horse meet at Prairie Meadows begins this weekend and runs through the end of October.

Just four hours away in Altoona, Iowa, Prairie Meadows is a logical next step for some of Canterbury’s quarter horses. The meet includes a long list of unrestricted stakes races, and has attracted some of the best horses in the country; among them, a few notable Canterbury connections.

Prairie Meadows was the home track of champion aged mare Spit Curl Diva winner of multiple graded stakes across the country in her career, including the 2010 Grade 1 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship at the Fair Grounds, the 2010 Grade 1 Refrigerator at Lone Star Park, and the Grade 3 Keokuk Stakes at Prairie Meadows last year, in which Canterbury perennial Six It Up finished third. Six It Up is in her fourth year at Canterbury and most recently appeared in the Cash Caravan Stakes on August 12th, in which she lost by a nose to Streak N Hot.

One of the best older horses in training last year, Jess A Runner, raced at Canterbury before continuing his campaign in Iowa. Jess A Runner, five years old at the time, shipped in for the Great Lakes Stakes, an event for older horses at 440 yards. Jess a Runner not only won, he broke the track record at that distance by nearly a second. Jess A Runner moved to Iowa after that win, where he won the Grade 3 Two Rivers Stakes and settled into the top ten poll of older horses for months to come.

Last year, Prairie Meadows hosted the Valley Junction Futurity, which was the richest quarter horse race ever held at the track to date, with a purse of $229,000. 39 two-year-olds competed in five trials at 350 yards to determine the field for the Grade 3 event, including fastest qualifier One Famous Hero at 17.690. One Famous Hero was the near even-money favorite heading into the final, but he finished fifth. The winner was a certain Pyc Paint Your Wagon filly fresh off her win in Canterbury’s Northlands Futurity: Cruzin the Wagon. Cruzin the Wagon defeated the field by an entire length in 17.481 and earned a 99 speed index.

Cruzin the Wagon appeared at Canterbury earlier that summer for the Northlands Futurity Trials; she won her trial easily and came back to win the $64,000 final, defeating Painted Lies and Red Hot Zoomer, who would each come back as strong three-year-olds in 2012. Cruzin the Wagon was even more impressive at Remington Park this year, winning three of her four starts, including the Grade 3 Jack Brooks Stakes, where she set a track record for 350 yards despite a sloppy surface. She has earned over $280,000 in her 11 starts.

Another familiar name appeared in the Valley Junction: Huckleberry Mojito. Huckleberry Mojito finished third in her trial and entered the final as the tenth fastest qualifier. She had never been worse than third in her four previous starts, but the Feature Mr Jess filly improved substantially as a three-year-old after her disappointing performance in the Valley Junction, and returned as one of the best horses of the 2012 Canterbury meet. Huckleberry is three for three here, including a three-length derby trial victory, a two-length win in the Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby, and a win against older fillies and mares in the Race for Hope Bonus Challenge.

The Bonus Challenge was a race open to horses enrolled in the AQHA Bank of America Challenge program. Challenge-nominated horses are eligible to compete in a variety of restricted races across the country, and winners of regional races gather at the end of the year in the Challenge Championship. The final races are the Breeders’ Cup of quarter horse racing, and like the thoroughbred event, the finals are held at different tracks. This year, Prairie Meadows is hosting the final event on Oct 27th. They are also hosting a full set of regional qualifiers, offering local horses the perfect opportunity to qualify for the final event.

Huckleberry Mojito is nominated to this program, and it is a possibility that she will show up for one of these qualifying events to have a chance to run in the final. The only question is, which one? As a three-year-old filly, she has her choice of the Adequan Derby, the Merial Distaff, or even the Bank of America Challenge for three-year-olds and up.

If Huckleberry Mojito continues to improve, one may be able to draw parallels between her and the great Spit Curl Diva. Both based in the Midwest, the two fillies developed later in their career, dominated stakes races against older horses and open company and have set track records. Spit Curl Diva earned a berth in the Merial Distaff Challenge final by winning a regional qualifier at Arapahoe; she returned the following year to qualify for the Bank of America challenge final and later that year, appeared in the Grade 1 Champion of Champions.

The retirement of Spit Curl Diva left big horseshoes to fill in the fillies/mares division, the older horses division, and among graded stakes contenders in general. It is impossible to predict the future, and if possible, even harder to predict the future in horse racing, but Huckleberry Mojito has the breeding, talent, and connections to make a name for herself on the national scene. When she does, you can say that you knew her way back when she raced at Canterbury. In the meantime, follow her and the rest of the pack to Iowa for two months of quality quarter horse racing, and save the date for the Challenge Championships on Oct 27th.

The Filly & Mare Bonus Challenge

Filly power is in full force on Saturday, August 4th, as Canterbury hosts its second annual Fillies Race for Hope event, raising money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer. The no-boys-allowed race card includes four stakes, one of which is reserved for the fastest girls on the track: the Fillies and Mares Race for Hope Bonus Challenge.

Saturday’s Bonus Challenge is open to fillies and mares three-year-old and up who are enrolled in the Bank of America Challenge Program. The inaugural running of this event will be held at 400 yards and offers a purse of $25,000, thanks to Mystic Lake and the American Quarter Horse Association.

Quarter horses have an annual divisional competition similar to that of the Breeders’ Cup: the Bank of American Racing Challenge Championship. Horses can be enrolled into the program at the time of foal registration for a nominal fee or entered later in their lives for a bit more. Those that are enrolled may be nominated to challenge races across the country for their appropriate divisions, culminating in a final event during the last weekend of October.

The Challenge Program is part Breeders’ Cup and part bracketology: there are races of varying distances and age levels, but horses must pass a series of qualifying trials and regional races to earn a berth in the final events. Regional races are win-and-you’re-in events, though as in the Breeders’ Cup, the finals move from track to track. The 2012 Challenge Championship is close to home this year, making its first appearance at Prairie Meadows, in Altoona, Iowa. (more about the Challenge Championship in the video below)

In addition to the six Challenge race series, many tracks offer “bonus” Challenge races; victory in a bonus race does not give the winner a seed in a final event, but it does reward those who are nominated with the opportunity to run in an additional stakes race and the chance to earn some extra purse money.

Saturday’s Bonus race has attracted some of Canterbury’s toughest fillies but also drew a few shippers and some former Canterbury starters who have been making their marks on tracks around the country. All eyes will be on the 8-5 morning line favorite, #3 Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above), as she returns to defend her freshly minted track record at this same distance: 19.625. Huckleberry Mojito has won both of her two starts at Canterbury, including the impressive performance last time out to take the Canterbury Derby. This Feature Mr Jess Filly is only improving as a three-year-old and loves this track, and boasts the trainer/jockey combo of Ed Ross Hardy and Nik Goodwin.

To Huckleberry’s outside may be the toughest shipper, #4 Believers Gathering (7-2). The six-year-old mare by Agouti spent her winter hitting the board in allowance races at Hialeah; prior to that she was a stakes competitor at Will Rogers Downs, Prairie Meadows and Remington Park. She’ll be making her debut at Canterbury as well as her first start in six months.

The other shipper to watch is the outside mare #9 Streakin Rare (4-1), who has followed a similar path as Believers Gathering but with one important advantage: she’s been here before. Streakin Rare raced against the boys at Canterbury last summer in the Great Lakes Stakes, and happened to finish second behind one of the best horses to compete over this surface, Jess A Runner, whose performance that day shattered the 440-yard track record. She was easily the best of the rest in that field and the return to this track may help her come back into form after her long layoff.

Don your best pink shirt and come out to the track to support this cause and watch some of Minnesota’s most talented ladies this Saturday! Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and shares her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Tiny… the Big Horse

She wasn’t quite sure what kind of horse he was the first time he walked past the barn, and there are times yet today, 12 years later, when she must wonder, too.

This much seems clear: The horse doesn’t know when to quit working, and he chows down as if he hasn’t had another meal in a month. Sounds like a Class A personality, and that sometimes concerns his primary rider, Kari Hardy, who runs the local barn at Canterbury Park for her husband, Ed Ross Hardy.

“I tell my mother that he might go into cardiac arrest sometime while we’re feeding him,” Kari said.

The animal in question here is a 19-year-old quarter horse called Tiny, who is anything but. That’s not his given name, of course, but imagine referring to him by his registered name – Hezamypress. Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it. But neither did “Midget,” the nickname Art Wilmes, Kari’s father, suggested for the horse after they purchased him outright at Manor Downs.

So what this horse is, in fact, is a retired racehorse who’s never left the race track. The Hardys ran him three times after buying him and he’s basically served as the barn’s pony horse since. Hezamypress is by The Sporting Press from Sheza My Choice. He was 3-0-4 from 24 career starts with earnings of $9,646.

Tiny is not that tall, maybe 15.3 hands, but he sort of resembles an equine version of a squat heavyweight wrestler. He has a massive chest on him. He’s big boned and goes about 1,300 pounds.

People have wondered if maybe there’s some draft horse in him he’s so massive.

Kari was befuddled the first time she saw the horse. The Hardys’ barn at Manor Downs was right by the gate so they got plenty of traffic near that spot. The first time Kari saw him prance past she thought maybe the horse was an Appaloosa. “He was higher than a kite. His tail was up over his back,” she recalled.

“I asked my dad, ‘what the heck is that thing,’ because they did run Appaloosas at Manor Downs.”

“He was just so big and powerful. He was impressive looking.”

Art Wilmes spotted the horse at the races a couple of days later. He told Kari that the horse had finished fourth, but ran a 95 speed index and might make a good barrel horse.

Kari competed in barrel racing while growing up in Le Sueur, and the idea of having a horse who might fit that discipline appealed to her. A couple of days later, her father bought the horse for $2,500, The Hardys raced him three times and Tiny got a first, a third and a fourth. That concluded his racing career, and when the Hardys came to Canterbury later that year Tiny was with them.

Tiny has been in the barn at Canterbury every meet the past 12 years but one, and Kari is on him every morning when he leaves the barn, prancing the entire distance to the track.

“He was a racehorse and then a pony horse,” Kari added. “He’s never left the racetrack and always thinks he’s supposed to work.”

Try taking him on a trail or a pleasure ride and Tiny acts as if he needs Prozac. “He gets very nervous when you try to ride him just for pleasure,” Kari added. “He just doesn’t understand.”

What Tiny does understand is the difference between an adult rider and a youngster. “He’s a pretty lively horse,” Kari added, “but when our kids, Jordan, 6, and Austin, 3, get on him, he turns really quiet.”

Not bad for a horse that spends most of the day on the muscle because he regards himself as simply a work horse, a workaholic if you like.

“He’s always on the muscle,” Kari said. “And if you want to go faster, he’ll go faster. He always wants to work.”

The Hardys at one time used Tiny as a work partner for green two-year-olds, although it’s been maybe three years since he’s filled that role.”

Although people sometimes wonder if Tiny has some draft horse in him, they seldom think he’s 17 years old. “He has a little sway in his back but it’s always been that way,” Kari explained. ”He’s rock solid with really good muscle tone.”

Tiny generally behaves himself and has taken to the Hardy children, but at feeding time he raises quite the fuss. “You can hear him a mile away,” she said. “And boy can he eat.”

Tiny, the erstwhile racehorse and now pony horse, is really the Hardy horse. “He is the family horse,” Kari added. “We (Kari and Ed Ross) both rode him a lot but now the kids are riding him, too.”

Occasionally, they’ll get on Tiny in the barn when the chores are done. Jordan rides him without assistance in the ring at home. Her little brother needs an adult hand on the reins when he’s in the saddle, but that could change in the next year or so.

During his racing days, Tiny won races at 330 yards, 550 and 870. “We ran him at 440 and 550,” Kari said. “He was pretty versatile.”

Still is, for that matter. Doesn’t seem to matter who’s in the saddle, Tiny knows how to respond.

“He knows what he’s supposed to do,” Kari said. “He’s a real professional.”

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.

Don’t Blink – You’ll Miss It

If horse racing alone isn’t extreme enough for you, come to Canterbury Park this weekend for Extreme Racing Day, featuring ostrich and camel races in addition to thoroughbred and quarter horse races.

To add to the fun, Canterbury will host a 110-yard quarter horse stakes race (last year’s edition pictured above). Though not an official distance, the hundred (or so) yard dash is becoming increasingly popular at tracks across the country, and its distance makes it a novelty event. If the classic quarter horse distance is a quarter of a mile (440 yards), this race is a quarter of that distance… you can do the math. It’s short.

For those of you who complain that quarter horse races are over at the break, don’t let this race scare you off. The hundred yard dash tends to attract older, talented horses who have significant gate experience. The start is still a factor, but it is more about the speed with which a horse can leave the gate rather than the trouble it might encounter from other horses.

The race may be a recent development, but some horses have already won the event multiple times. On July 15th, Fort Erie hosted the $20,000 Blink of an Eye Stakes. Last year, the race was won by Slick Little Beduino (Slick Little Beduino was the runner-up in this race at Canterbury in both 2009 and 2010), who returned this year to defend his title and won by an impossible length and a quarter. He finished in 7.010 and earned a 94 speed index for his effort. Slick Little Beduino is a seven-year-old Kansas-bred gelding who shipped in from Remington Park; he is owned and trained by Alvin Turner and was ridden by Cody McDaniel.

At Zia Park last fall, a 100-yard allowance was split into two divisions, each with a purse of over $40,000. The first leg was won by eight-year-old Dueling Juan in 6.410; the second leg by seven-year-old Anywhere Chic in 6.430.

This spring at Sam Houston, the $15,000 Texas Twister Stakes was split into three divisions. A five-year-old mare, CC Miss Yin You, won the first leg in 6.854, and Little Eye Opener earned the victory in the second division with a time of 6.830. Times continued to speed up throughout the night as The Hot List won the final division in 6.736.

Part of the fun of watching a hundred yard dash is the knowledge that you could be witnessing history in the making. Many tracks do not have a long history of these races, and the purses attract very talented horses. The result: new track records.

In the third division of the Texas Twister, The Hot List’s time of 6.736 was a new track record, defeating a previous track record of 6.807 that had stood since 2008, when it was set by XO Kate. Yasmine Fierro trains the four-year-old son of Streakin La Jolla, owned by Eleazar Martinez and ridden by leading jockey Luis Vivanco.

Dueling Juan broke Zia’s 100-yard track record with his victory in 6.410 when he made his 56th lifetime start in the allowance last November for owners A & F Racing, trainer Harvey Baeza and jockey Freddie Martinez.

To put this in perspective, a football field is 120 yards, end zone to end zone. The longest touchdown run in NFL history was made by Antonio Cromartie of the San Diego Chargers on November 4th, 2007. Cromartie caught a missed field goal attempt inches from the line and scored a 109-yard rushing touchdown. (Let’s ignore that fact that our Vikings’ defense made this record possible.) Cromartie had a nearly straight shot to run down the entire field in a distance that these quarter horses can cover in just over 6 seconds. His time, at full speed? Roughly 14 seconds.

Come watch our equine athletes run the same distance on Saturday, but blink and you’ll miss a revolution.

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and shares her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Stakes Racing Recaps

There has been plenty of quarter horse stakes action over the past half dozen racing days at Canterbury Park. Who won? Who lost? Who set a new track record? Here’s a recap of Canterbury’s recent big races:

Great Lakes Stakes

Stakes action kicked off last week with the 16th running of the Great Lakes Stakes, featuring three-year-olds and up running 440 yards for $21,000. The field included winner of this year’s Skip Zimmerman Stakes, Hollywood Trickster (pictured above), a New Mexico-bred gelding who came from seventh place at the break to win by half a length. The five-year-old repeated in the Great Lakes Stakes when he broke next to last and flew up the stretch to defeat Paintyourownwagon by a neck. Hollywood Trickster was the post-time favorite and covered the quarter mile in 21.744, earning a 104 speed index. Paintyourownwagon finished second with a 103 SI, and A Faster Streaker was a close third, earning a 101 index.

Hollywood Trickster is owned by Christine Hovey and trained by Ed Hardy; Derek Bell was up for this win. Unlike many horses racing at 440 yards, Hollywood Trickster is actually attempting shorter races than he is used to; the son of thoroughbred Favorite Trick, out of a Heza Fast Man mare is a talented 550 and 870 performer. He lives up to his name at 440 yards, deceiving us into thinking he is too far behind to win but gains enough momentum to pull off a dramatic ending. His replay is the last race on the video below:

 

Northlands Futurity

Midnight Sunlight was the upset winner in Thursday’s running of the $59,800 Northlands Futurity, though a closer look at her past performances suggests that this win should not have been that much of a surprise. The filly did not break on top, but was moved quickly to second place and kicked into gear late in the race to defeat Mr Shakem Diva by a nose at the wire. Mr Shakem Diva turned in a breakout performance, leading the race until the final strides and narrowly defeating post-time favorite and fastest qualifier Bp Painted Lady. Bp Painted Lady was bumped coming out of the gate and was clear of traffic soon after; she moved up steadily throughout the race but lacked the needed kick to get ahead of her foes. The three-way photo finish suggests that we may have several future racing stars on our grounds.

Owned by Brenda Reiswig, and ridden by Stormy Smith, Midnight Sunlight earned the first Northlands victory for trainer Vic Hanson. Midnight Sunlight’s success began with her breeding; bred by Bobby Cox in Texas, the filly is by one of the leading two-year-old sires, Ivory James, out of Quick Moon Sign by Royal Quick Dash, a top Texas broodmare sire. The filly was the fastest qualifier to the $350,000 Grade 2 Oklahoma Futurity this spring at Remington Park. There were 15 qualifying trials with nearly 150 horses, and her time of 15.391 was the best on the card for the 300 yard trials. She ran second in the final to Dash for Coronas, who went on to qualify for and run fourth in the Grade 1 $1,100,000 Heritage Place Futurity, also at Remington Park.

Midnight Sunlight ran 350 yards in 17.843; Mr Shakem Diva was a nose behind at 17.846 and Bp Painted Lady ran 17.864. Each horse earned a 93 speed index. It may be time to put all three of these horses in your virtual stable: Midnight Sunlight is just beginning to show her true talent and will be one to watch in the years to come. Mr Shakem Diva had the race won at 250 and 300 yards, so be ready to put money on that one when he runs a shorter race. Bp Painted Lady closed fast at the end of the race to get up for third; in an allowance race and maybe at a longer distance, she’ll have no trouble getting the win.

 

Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby

Huckleberry Mojito did not disappoint in the Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby last Saturday. The three-year-old daughter of Feature Mr Jess won in style, leading at the first call and pulling away from the field to win by nearly two lengths. Huckleberry Mojito was the fastest qualifier to the derby with 19.97; on Saturday she stunned everyone with a final time of 19.625, setting a new track record and earning a remarkable 108 speed index. The previous track record was 16.692, set by Mr Hempens Feature in a trial for the 2010 Canterbury Derby. He lost to Time for Wilena in the final, who set the stakes record for this race with 16.699. Huckleberry Mojito now owns both the track and stakes record.

Feature Mr Jess is a leading quarter horse sire, but handicappers and breeders know that his daughters, while particularly talented, take more time than usual to mature. Feature Mr Jess fillies tend to be better as three-year-olds than in their first year, and like their sire, the longer the race the better. Huckleberry Mojito is no exception, showing tremendous improvement this year with every race.

Huckleberry Mojito was bred in Texas by Gary and Patty Peterson, owned by L M R 2011, and trained by Ed Hardy, giving him his seventh Canterbury Derby win. Nik Goodwin chalks up another quarter horse win; bet on a quarter horse for no other reason than Goodwin getting the mount this meet and you’ll hit first or second place over 90% of the time. Her replay is the second race on the video below:

 

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and shares her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

11,000+ Enjoy Rescheduled July 4th Festivities

Who was your favorite winner over the weekend: Serena Williams, the Bulls at Pamplona, Oscar the wiener dog, Lori Keith, Soonerette, Huckleberry Mojito or the hot dog champ?

They all deserve a tip of the cap, but Soonerette and Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above) were truly the stars of Saturday’s card in Shakopee.

There were 11,337 fans on hand who might have ideas of their own, but most of them would surely agree with the two equine stars.

Soonerette, the 3-year-old filly out of the Donnie Von Hemel barn shipped in from Arlington Park and stole the early show under a smart ride from Tanner Riggs in the $75,000 Northbound Pride Stakes.

Then in the $40,650 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby, Nik Goodwin, the leading Q rider on the track, guided Huckleberry Mojito to an easy win, setting a track record of 19.3 in the process.

By that time Keith had already ridden three winners on the card, Williams had long put her Wimbledon trophy in a safe spot, the bulls were resting up for another shot at the Spanish crowd and Oscar was on his way home to Ellsworth, Wis., with his championship booty.

NORTHBOUND PRIDE OAKS

Whenever the money gets better, the horses start arriving and three of them shipped in for the race named after one of Canterbury’s Hall of Fame runners from the past.

There was Banded from Prairie Meadows, Starship Duchess from Arlington Park and Soonerette (above) from the same suburban Chicago site.

The mile race on the turf belonged entirely to Soonerette and Tanner Riggs, who guided the Master Command filly to a gate to wire triumph for her 60 percent cut of the $75,000 prize.

The margin at the wire was two lengths back to Banded, with Starship in third after a perfectly executed ride from Riggs, who got very basic instructions in the paddock from Von Hemel’s assistant.

He was told the put the horse at the lead out of the gate and that’s just what he did.

“They just told me to let her roll,” Riggs said, “and that’s what I did.”

Riggs regarded the win as payback to Von Hemel for favors done over the years. “He gave me horses to ride at Arlington,” Riggs said, “and kind of worked as a mentor to me.”

Von Hemel was not present but Tanner’s uncle and aunt, Roger and Lisa Riggs from near Mitchell, S.D., were. “We like to come up and watch Tanner ride when we can,” Roger said. “He rode a good race today.”

A bystander took a look at the winning horse and remarked. “You wouldn’t have guess that horse would win it. He’s kind of ratty looking.”

Sometimes looks are deceiving and that was certainly the case in this race.

CANTERBURY PARK QUARTER HORSE DERBY

Huckleberry, a three-year-old daughter of Feature Mr. Jess from Eye Opening Special, opened a few eyes and then tried to close some, too.

Under Goodwin, she broke cleanly and charged to the front, finishing easily in front of Painted Lies and Paint Or More.

“I wasn’t think record, but I knew she was traveling pretty fast,” said Goodwin. “She broke straight and I just tried to guide her from there.”

Moments later in the winner’s circle, the winner nearly took out winning trainer Ed Ross Hardy, delivering a kick to his leg. The impact was reduced by Hardy’s proximity to the horse. Had he been a couple of feet further away, it might have leveled him.

The win was the third straight for Huckleberry, who was the fastest qualifier for the Derby in the June 23 trials.

The winner has a historic blood-line connection to Canterbury. Her dam won the Express Handicap twice, the 350 Handicap and the Bob Morehouse, all in Shakopee.

Huckleberry apparently shares one more trait with her mama, who was about as ornery as they come on occasion.

None of that seemed to matter in the winner’s circle on Saturday.

CONTROVERSY DOGS WIENER RACE

There were concerns earlier in the week that Oscar might not be ready for the finals of the 2012 Dachshund Dash, not ready even though he was a prohibitive favorite after qualifying with one of the fastest times ever.

Oscar (in the lead above) suffered a mishap last week and has been on antibiotics the last few days. It seems that he got a little overly excited when his owner Chrissy Bitterman got home from work the other day and she inadvertently stepped on him.

That raised all sorts of concerns prior to Saturday’s championship, postponed from July 4 along with the rest of that card.

Nonetheless, Oscar was a clear winner once again, as he was in the qualifying heat, outrunning nine rivals to win easily, although not without controversy. Oscar shot out of the gate like a rocket and straight to the finish line where Bitterman, of Ellsworth, Wis., awaited him with a treat.

He stopped upon reaching the finish, however, and there was some brief uncertainly whether he had actually crossed the line.

A review determined that, yes, in fact, his nose had broken the plane.

“He always stops like that,” said Bitterman, ”as soon as he gets to me. He’s been trained to do that.”

Upon hearing that Oscar had run on antibiotics, an anti inflammatory drug for his recent injury, there was a minor objection that it had not been reported in the program, as such cases are with the horses.

Another quick review determined that what applies in the horse world is not necessarily a factor in the dog domain.

Bitterman also explained that Oscar’s full name is Oscar Michael, named after her late son. She was not aware of the contest until a friend e-mailed her in June suggesting that she enter Oscar in the contest.

Oscar has been on a bland diet all week along with the medication. Even his treats had to be changed.

A 10-pound, 15-inch 2-year-old, Oscar did his training in a cornfield on property owned by Jan Godden of River Falls, a friend of Bitterman’s.

“He’d run all over that field,” said Bitterman. Well, until the injury, he did.

“I didn’t know if he could run very fast today,” she added

Oscar answered that concern with an affirmative “No problem.”

Afterward there was a treat awaiting him in the winner’s circle. His diet still didn’t allow the usual treats, so Bittmeran prepared something special.

A bit of bacon.

TOP DOG GULPS FIVE DOGS

The rules to the hot-dog eating contest have changed in the last few years, putting some of the top dogs of year’s gone by at a disadvantage.

At one time, the number of hot dogs consumed in a period of time determined the winner. The contestant to consume five hot dogs the fastest has been the winner of recent contests.

That puts a seven-time winner such as Paul Gustafson of Wayzata, affectionately known as Gus D Dawn, at a decided disadvantage. “I guess I’m just getting old,” he lamented after Saturday’s contest, won by Mark Pederson of Little Canada.

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 Credit: Coady Photography

Video Credit: Jon Mikkelson & The Canterbury Park Television Department

11,000+ Enjoy Rescheduled July 4th Festivities

Who was your favorite winner over the weekend: Serena Williams, the Bulls at Pamplona, Oscar the wiener dog, Lori Keith, Soonerette, Huckleberry Mojito or the hot dog champ?

They all deserve a tip of the cap, but Soonerette and Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above) were truly the stars of Saturday’s card in Shakopee.

There were 11,337 fans on hand who might have ideas of their own, but most of them would surely agree with the two equine stars.

Soonerette, the 3-year-old filly out of the Donnie Von Hemel barn shipped in from Arlington Park and stole the early show under a smart ride from Tanner Riggs in the $75,000 Northbound Pride Stakes.

Then in the $40,650 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby, Nik Goodwin, the leading Q rider on the track, guided Huckleberry Mojito to an easy win, setting a track record of 19.3 in the process.

By that time Keith had already ridden three winners on the card, Williams had long put her Wimbledon trophy in a safe spot, the bulls were resting up for another shot at the Spanish crowd and Oscar was on his way home to Ellsworth, Wis., with his championship booty.

NORTHBOUND PRIDE OAKS

Whenever the money gets better, the horses start arriving and three of them shipped in for the race named after one of Canterbury’s Hall of Fame runners from the past.

There was Banded from Prairie Meadows, Starship Duchess from Arlington Park and Soonerette (above) from the same suburban Chicago site.

The mile race on the turf belonged entirely to Soonerette and Tanner Riggs, who guided the Master Command filly to a gate to wire triumph for her 60 percent cut of the $75,000 prize.

The margin at the wire was two lengths back to Banded, with Starship in third after a perfectly executed ride from Riggs, who got very basic instructions in the paddock from Von Hemel’s assistant.

He was told the put the horse at the lead out of the gate and that’s just what he did.

“They just told me to let her roll,” Riggs said, “and that’s what I did.”

Riggs regarded the win as payback to Von Hemel for favors done over the years. “He gave me horses to ride at Arlington,” Riggs said, “and kind of worked as a mentor to me.”

Von Hemel was not present but Tanner’s uncle and aunt, Roger and Lisa Riggs from near Mitchell, S.D., were. “We like to come up and watch Tanner ride when we can,” Roger said. “He rode a good race today.”

A bystander took a look at the winning horse and remarked. “You wouldn’t have guess that horse would win it. He’s kind of ratty looking.”

Sometimes looks are deceiving and that was certainly the case in this race.

CANTERBURY PARK QUARTER HORSE DERBY

Huckleberry, a three-year-old daughter of Feature Mr. Jess from Eye Opening Special, opened a few eyes and then tried to close some, too.

Under Goodwin, she broke cleanly and charged to the front, finishing easily in front of Painted Lies and Paint Or More.

“I wasn’t think record, but I knew she was traveling pretty fast,” said Goodwin. “She broke straight and I just tried to guide her from there.”

Moments later in the winner’s circle, the winner nearly took out winning trainer Ed Ross Hardy, delivering a kick to his leg. The impact was reduced by Hardy’s proximity to the horse. Had he been a couple of feet further away, it might have leveled him.

The win was the third straight for Huckleberry, who was the fastest qualifier for the Derby in the June 23 trials.

The winner has a historic blood-line connection to Canterbury. Her dam won the Express Handicap twice, the 350 Handicap and the Bob Morehouse, all in Shakopee.

Huckleberry apparently shares one more trait with her mama, who was about as ornery as they come on occasion.

None of that seemed to matter in the winner’s circle on Saturday.

CONTROVERSY DOGS WIENER RACE

There were concerns earlier in the week that Oscar might not be ready for the finals of the 2012 Dachshund Dash, not ready even though he was a prohibitive favorite after qualifying with one of the fastest times ever.

Oscar (in the lead above) suffered a mishap last week and has been on antibiotics the last few days. It seems that he got a little overly excited when his owner Chrissy Bitterman got home from work the other day and she inadvertently stepped on him.

That raised all sorts of concerns prior to Saturday’s championship, postponed from July 4 along with the rest of that card.

Nonetheless, Oscar was a clear winner once again, as he was in the qualifying heat, outrunning nine rivals to win easily, although not without controversy. Oscar shot out of the gate like a rocket and straight to the finish line where Bitterman, of Ellsworth, Wis., awaited him with a treat.

He stopped upon reaching the finish, however, and there was some brief uncertainly whether he had actually crossed the line.

A review determined that, yes, in fact, his nose had broken the plane.

“He always stops like that,” said Bitterman, ”as soon as he gets to me. He’s been trained to do that.”

Upon hearing that Oscar had run on antibiotics, an anti inflammatory drug for his recent injury, there was a minor objection that it had not been reported in the program, as such cases are with the horses.

Another quick review determined that what applies in the horse world is not necessarily a factor in the dog domain.

Bitterman also explained that Oscar’s full name is Oscar Michael, named after her late son. She was not aware of the contest until a friend e-mailed her in June suggesting that she enter Oscar in the contest.

Oscar has been on a bland diet all week along with the medication. Even his treats had to be changed.

A 10-pound, 15-inch 2-year-old, Oscar did his training in a cornfield on property owned by Jan Godden of River Falls, a friend of Bitterman’s.

“He’d run all over that field,” said Bitterman. Well, until the injury, he did.

“I didn’t know if he could run very fast today,” she added

Oscar answered that concern with an affirmative “No problem.”

Afterward there was a treat awaiting him in the winner’s circle. His diet still didn’t allow the usual treats, so Bittmeran prepared something special.

A bit of bacon.

TOP DOG GULPS FIVE DOGS

The rules to the hot-dog eating contest have changed in the last few years, putting some of the top dogs of year’s gone by at a disadvantage.

At one time, the number of hot dogs consumed in a period of time determined the winner. The contestant to consume five hot dogs the fastest has been the winner of recent contests.

That puts a seven-time winner such as Paul Gustafson of Wayzata, affectionately known as Gus D Dawn, at a decided disadvantage. “I guess I’m just getting old,” he lamented after Saturday’s contest, won by Mark Pederson of Little Canada.

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 Credit: Coady Photography

Video Credit: Jon Mikkelson & The Canterbury Park Television Department