News and Notes after Four Race Days

By Katie Merritt

Perfection is a term rarely used in this sport. But for the moment, it fits Hall of Fame trainer Bernell Rhone who has saddled five horses thus far and each has visited the winner’s circle. Drop the Gloves won opening night. Maddymax won this past Friday and then Drive Sandy Drive, Justeveryday, and Smoltz kept the streak alive Saturday.  As would be expected, go-to jockey Dean Butler rode four of the winners and Martin Escobar, whose association with Rhone began two decades ago, was on Justeveryday.

Rhone spends the winter training at Tampa Bay Downs.

Is there a Tampa edge?   “I like coming out of Tampa,” Rhone said. “Horses from there go everywhere and run well.”

Rhone remembers winning six races on one card in 2003 and then saddling two more the next day. “I had multiple horses in a couple of those races.”  He has an opportunity to continue this current run of perfection Friday with Lucky Leroy Brown in race 2.

In June of 1995, the year Canterbury re-opened, David Van Winkle saddled seven consecutive winners over a period of several days. Van Winkle went on to be leading trainer that summer.

The battle for leading rider at Canterbury Park has already begun at the 2017 live racing meet. As expected, Alex Canchari and Dean Butler are vying for that lead, and are tied with 6 wins apiece and a 27 percent win percentage. The only thing that currently sets them apart is Canchari’s seven second-place finishes to Butler’s two, and Canchari’s earnings of $144,710 to Butler’s $88,798. Dean Butler is 3 for 3 on favorites, while Canchari is 4 for 6. With a lot of races left to run this summer, the title of leading rider will surely spend a lot of time flip-flopping between these two, as well as others. Orlando Mojica is only 2 wins behind them, with $98,007 in purses, so he is also in contention to make a bid at leading rider.

The Jockey Colony Continues To Grow

Jockey Cecily Evans, a newcomer to Canterbury Park, arrived in Shakopee this week after the completion of the Turf Paradise meet. Evans rode races primarily on the east coast before her venture to Turf Paradise last winter.

“It was my first meet at Turf Paradise and I really didn’t know that many people, so it took a little bit to get everything going. But the last couple of months, business really started picking up and I was winning races,” Evans said. “A lot of the trainers that I rode for told me that they were going to Canterbury Park for the summer, and that I should go, so here I am! I’m excited!”

She will be represented by agent Brandon O’Brien, who also has Chad Lindsay’s book.

Jockey Nik Goodwin is one win closer to 1,000 after a win on Fort Lewis Rivers on Friday night for trainer Joel Berndt. He is now only four wins away.

Stakes Races Saturday

The Lady Slipper Stakes and the 10,000 Lakes Stakes will be run Saturday. Both offer $50,000 purses and are conducted at a distance of six furlongs. Both stakes are restricted to Minnesota breds.

Bourbon County, winner of the past two 10,000 Lakes renditions, is on the nomination list. He began training this spring at Oaklawn and has continued to work forwardly at Canterbury Park. Finding his name on the entries after the draw Wednesday would be no surprise. Hold for More has also been nominated. He sprinted in the Paul Bunyan Stakes opening weekend but was never involved, finishing last in a field of six. Should trainer Francisco Bravo enter this former horse of the meet, he would be well supported by the betting public.

The Lady Slipper attracted 15 nominations including Rockin the Bleu’s who was a winner facing open company in April at Will Rogers Downs in a $50,000 sprint stakes. Last season this mare came off a layoff to finish second in the Lady Slipper. She has a pair of recorded workouts since arriving in Shakopee this spring.

Racing begins on Saturday with a later than normal post time of 1:45 p.m. to accommodate the running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

Friday racing begins at 6:30 p.m.

Rolling $1 doubles have been added to the wagering menu and will begin Friday.

Advance wagering on Preakness and Black-Eyed Susan

Available Thursday, 5/18/17:
– Advance wagers for Friday’s Pimlico card (Black Eyed Susan is race 11)
– Advance wagers for Saturday’s Pimlico card (Preakness is race 13)
– Black Eyed Susan/Preakness Double Wager (race 11 on Friday and race 13 on Saturday)

Available Friday, 5/19/17:
– Advance wagers for Saturday’s Pimlico card (Preakness is race 13)
– Friday’s Pimlico card (Black Eyed Susan is race 11)
– Black Eyed Susan/Preakness Double Wager (race 11 on Friday and race 13 on Saturday)

OLMSTEAD LOADS UP FOR FUTURITY

Chick In Eagle
Chick In Eagle – fastest qualifier for NCQHRA Futurity

By Jim Wells

Jason  Olmstead considered the question, rolling it across his memory without stopping anywhere specific, trying to pinpoint when his life changed so dramatically.

“I guess it was three or four years ago,” he said.

The query under consideration was when quarter horse training expanded for him and his wife, Amber Blair, from a daily job to something approaching corporate responsibility, from a barn with 20 horses to one with 50 or 60, from a couple of hotwalkers or grooms to an employee list. “When you have have as many horses as we do, you need a lot of help.”

He was considering the question in context with Sunday’s $54,400 North Central Quarter Horse Racing Assn. Futurity, a race in which he will saddle six of the 10 starters.

“It’s the other four I’m worried about,” he said in characteristic trainer speak, in this case with good reason according to one of his competitors in the race, Bob Johnson.

“There’s not a length that separates these 10 horses,” Johnson said.

Nonetheless, Olmstead hopes to score well in this one. “Hopefully we can finish this thing out and get a big chuck of this futurity,” he said. The Futurity brings the close of the quarter horse racing season one step closer. The season concludes with racing next week and then the Derby and Futurity as part of the Minnesota Festival of Racing on Aug. 21.

Olmstead, meanwhile, is leading his colleagues in pursuit of his second consecutive training title, three in front of Johnson. “It’s been a busy summer, a pretty good summer,” he said. “When you get a first and a second in the Northlands and qualify six to this futurity that’s something that doesn’t happen every day. You have to enjoy it when it does.”

As the current meet winds down, Olmstead is already making plans to begin shipping to Prairie Meadows in Iowa as he works his way south again to Oklahoma.

“We’ll puddle jump our way home,” he said.

The stop in Shakopee has become one he and his family anticipate each summer. “We’ve been coming to Canterbury for a long time and we’ve always held our own,” he said. “In the last couple of years we’ve come full circle.”

He’d like to claim another training title, although titles don’t pay the freight. A good business takes priority over such accolades any time.

“Being leading trainer is all fine and dandy,” he said. “But a lot of things have to fall your way.  You have to have the numbers to make a true run at leading trainer, the horses have to perform, the races have to set up your way…there are so many things.”

His success in Shakopee is a direct result of improving the stock he needs to compete elsewhere. “We’ve been buying horses to compete in Oklahoma,” Olmstead said, “and we’ve bringing some of those caliber horses up here.”

Not only has the Olmstead barn tripled in size the last few years, the season has expanded as well. “January and February were the only two months we didn’t race in the last year,” he said.

There are no breaks during those breaks however. “No, there are babies to break and plenty else to do,” Olmstead concluded.

 

 SPRINTING FOR LOCAL RECORDS

Anticipation settled in like a low slung cloud before this race, enveloping everything beneath it.  “This should be a stakes race,” one observer noted. “We don’t get one like this very often,” said another.

Bourbon County and Hold for More, two state-breds, two of Minnesota’s own. Bourbon  County, sixth best in all-time earnings at Canterbury. Hold for More, the reigning horse of the year in Shakopee.

Would they fight or were they more interested in sparring, working into condition for Minnesota Festival of Champions in two weeks.

Well…

They weren’t the only runners in this one.

Hold for More was sent off at 7/2 and Bourbon County at 2-1 and Candy Ruby was an 8/5 choice. Yet it was Vestibule, ridden by Larren Delorme and trained by Tim Padilla that took this one, in very swift fashion, clocking fractions of 21:45 for the first quarter and 43:95 for the half mile, with a winning time of 1:09.39. Candy Ruby was next and Hold for More got there for show.

Vestibule -- photos by Coady Photography
Vestibule — photos by Coady Photography

Tonight’s Ninth Race Features Two Of Minnesota’s Best

Bourbon County defeats Hold for More in 10,000 Lakes Stakes
Bourbon County defeats Hold for More in 10,000 Lakes Stakes

Friday’s ninth race is a high-quality sprint featuring a pair of Minnesota-breds that have a chance to become the biggest purse winners at Canterbury Park and/or Downs: Bourbon County and Hold for More.

Bourbon County is currently sixth in all-time earnings at the Shakopee oval with $264,272.

The incomparable Crocrock leads the way with $340,452. He did it the hard way, winning 14 times when purses were nowhere close to what they are now. Sir Tricky is next with $315,633 and Wally’s Choice is third with $285,835. All three are Canterbury Hall of Famers.

The winner’s share tonight for a Minnesota-bred is $23,700. Should Bourbon County prevail he would surpass Wally’s Choice to become third on the list.

Hold for More has earned $241,900, having won six times and finished second four. A win for the reigning Horse of the Meet would move him from 14th to sixth all-time.

Three other familiar names still in action also have an opportunity to move up this illustrious list. A P Is Loose is currently 11th with $249,353 and Dear Fay is number 16 with $231,891. A P should show up on Festival of Champions Day Aug. 21.

Then we have Heliskier who has not raced since 2014 but has seven workouts here this summer. The two-time Canterbury Horse of the Meet has earned $263,368.

Bourbon County Wins 10,000 Lakes Stakes

BOURBON COUNTY

Lower takeout results in 33 percent increase in opening night handle.

Bourbon County, owned by Scott Rake of Elko, Minn., won the $60,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes Friday at Canterbury Park, successfully defending his title. The wagering favorite, ridden by Alex Canchari and trained by Bernell Rhone, battled on the inside with Hold for More and A P Is Loose before taking the lead into the turn and pulling away to win by 1 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:10.32.

“I told Scott [Rake] I could have gone in 1:09 I had so much horse,” Canchari said.

Hold for More and jockey Dean Butler, who had three wins on the eight-race card, finished second, two lengths in front of third-place finisher Evert and rider Geovanni Franco.

Canterbury officials announced in April that they were reducing takeout, the amount withdrawn from wagers before winners are paid, to the lowest in the country. This reduction was met with widespread approval of horseplayers nationwide and resulted in handle of $840,999, an increase of 33 percent over 2015 opening night.

 

“This is a great night for Minnesota racing and a great group of Minnesota-breds,” Rake said. “Congratulations to all the owners and trainers. The real winners are the bettors with this low takeout. They’re leaving with more money in their pockets.”

Attendance was 7,439. Racing continues Saturday and Sunday at 12:45 p.m.

THE BUTLER DID IT ….FIVE TIMES FRIDAY

Bourbon County

BY JIM WELLS

 

Mark this down somewhere, preferably someplace you won’t forget, maybe on a slip of paper you carry in your wallet and take out from time to time, or perhaps attach it to the refrigerator with one of those clips normally used on the potato chip bag.

If you have a better idea, go with it. Just don’t forget.

You’ll want to remind yourself from time to time that it doesn’t get any better than this. Horse racing has returned to Canterbury Park along with 6,123 fans and, wow…you simply can’t keep some people down.

Certainly not one Dean Butler, Canterbury’s leading rider four times. Tied for second place, one win behind Ry Eikleberry for the riding title last year, Butler apparently has been chomping at the bit, eager to pick up where he left off, to take another shot.

Winner of the first race of 2015 aboard a 3-year-old gelding named Bold Entry Friday night, Butler was asked afterward how it felt to be Canterbury’s leading rider. Could he hold the lead?

“Hey,” he said. “I can’t be worried about that stuff this early.”

Woops.

Just a joke, Dean. Just a joke.

Francisco Bravo, trainer of Bold Entry, on the other hand, was absolutely delighted to be the track’s leading trainer at that juncture, even pointing out the moustache and beard he has grown while acquiring a new look for the upcoming meet. “Oh, yeah. It feels good to be on top,” he said. “Real good.”

But, get this. Clearly, Butler had his mind firmly fixed on winning, to such an extent that he didn’t want to disrupt his focus. He made it two in a row aboard Bizet in race two, allowing trainer Tim Padilla to move into a tie with Bravo. Then, Butler brought home Sammie’s Touch to allow Eric Heitzmann to join the training lead, and, in race four, brought none other than trainer Mac Robertson into the fray by taking Rocknlikahurricane to the winner’s circle.

There was no reason to think that Butler couldn’t win five in a row with Baby Trump, but Heitzmann scratched the horse and Butler’s domination went on hiatus, only until the feature race on the card, the $60,000 guaranteed 10,000 Lakes Stakes. He finished out of the money in race six but was back when it counted, taking Bourbon County to an easy win in the feature.

“I’ve won five before, never to start a season,” said Butler. “When? I can’t remember. When you get past 40, the eyes start to go, your hair starts to turn gray and the memory’s not as good.”

Everything was in fine fettle on Friday, though. Both Butler and owner Scott Rake talked about how Bourbon County undoubtedly benefited from a start on April 12 in Tampa. “He didn’t have one last year,” said Butler. Which rider and owner both thought was a factor in Bourbon County’s narrow loss (a nose) to Speakfromyourheart in last year’s 10,000 Lakes.

Butler was not on Bourbon County’s back in the Tampa sprint. Instead, he rode stablemate Sky and Sea, finishing ninth in that race to Bourbon County’s fourth place finish. He’ll pick up the connection again today aboard Sky and Sea in the $60,000 Lady Slipper Stakes with a chance to add to the quick start he had out of the gate Friday night.

Command the Land, a stablemate to Bourbon County, was a well-beaten second in the 10,000 Lakes. Lil Apollo ran third and Command the Land was next.

Trainer Bernell Rhone, like Bravo, wasn’t going to let his golden moment go unappreciated. When the night was over, Butler had a nice lead in the rider standings. Rhone was part of an eight-way tie for the training lead, a fact a nearby acquaintance pointed out to him in the winner’s circle.

“That’s something to celebrate today, though,  isn’t it,” he said.

THE BUTLER DID IT ….FIVE TIMES FRIDAY

Bourbon County

BY JIM WELLS

 

Mark this down somewhere, preferably someplace you won’t forget, maybe on a slip of paper you carry in your wallet and take out from time to time, or perhaps attach it to the refrigerator with one of those clips normally used on the potato chip bag.

If you have a better idea, go with it. Just don’t forget.

You’ll want to remind yourself from time to time that it doesn’t get any better than this. Horse racing has returned to Canterbury Park along with 6,123 fans and, wow…you simply can’t keep some people down.

Certainly not one Dean Butler, Canterbury’s leading rider four times. Tied for second place, one win behind Ry Eikleberry for the riding title last year, Butler apparently has been chomping at the bit, eager to pick up where he left off, to take another shot.

Winner of the first race of 2015 aboard a 3-year-old gelding named Bold Entry Friday night, Butler was asked afterward how it felt to be Canterbury’s leading rider. Could he hold the lead?

“Hey,” he said. “I can’t be worried about that stuff this early.”

Woops.

Just a joke, Dean. Just a joke.

Francisco Bravo, trainer of Bold Entry, on the other hand, was absolutely delighted to be the track’s leading trainer at that juncture, even pointing out the moustache and beard he has grown while acquiring a new look for the upcoming meet. “Oh, yeah. It feels good to be on top,” he said. “Real good.”

But, get this. Clearly, Butler had his mind firmly fixed on winning, to such an extent that he didn’t want to disrupt his focus. He made it two in a row aboard Bizet in race two, allowing trainer Tim Padilla to move into a tie with Bravo. Then, Butler brought home Sammie’s Touch to allow Eric Heitzmann to join the training lead, and, in race four, brought none other than trainer Mac Robertson into the fray by taking Rocknlikahurricane to the winner’s circle.

There was no reason to think that Butler couldn’t win five in a row with Baby Trump, but Heitzmann scratched the horse and Butler’s domination went on hiatus, only until the feature race on the card, the $60,000 guaranteed 10,000 Lakes Stakes. He finished out of the money in race six but was back when it counted, taking Bourbon County to an easy win in the feature.

“I’ve won five before, never to start a season,” said Butler. “When? I can’t remember. When you get past 40, the eyes start to go, your hair starts to turn gray and the memory’s not as good.”

Everything was in fine fettle on Friday, though. Both Butler and owner Scott Rake talked about how Bourbon County undoubtedly benefited from a start on April 12 in Tampa. “He didn’t have one last year,” said Butler. Which rider and owner both thought was a factor in Bourbon County’s narrow loss (a nose) to Speakfromyourheart in last year’s 10,000 Lakes.

Butler was not on Bourbon County’s back in the Tampa sprint. Instead, he rode stablemate Sky and Sea, finishing ninth in that race to Bourbon County’s fourth place finish. He’ll pick up the connection again today aboard Sky and Sea in the $60,000 Lady Slipper Stakes with a chance to add to the quick start he had out of the gate Friday night.

Command the Land, a stablemate to Bourbon County, was a well-beaten second in the 10,000 Lakes. Lil Apollo ran third and Command the Land was next.

Trainer Bernell Rhone, like Bravo, wasn’t going to let his golden moment go unappreciated. When the night was over, Butler had a nice lead in the rider standings. Rhone was part of an eight-way tie for the training lead, a fact a nearby acquaintance pointed out to him in the winner’s circle.

“That’s something to celebrate today, though,  isn’t it,” he said.

Thoughts on Opening Night Entries

May 15

Entries were taken today for opening night Friday, an eight-race program beginning at 6:30 p.m.  A total of 63 horses were entered overall including seven in the $60,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes for MN bred boys.

Defending champ Speakfromyourheart, whose lone win of 2014 came in this race, returns for trainer Vic Hanson with Jenna Joubert getting the mount. The morning line favorite is Bourbon County, winner of the Crocrock Minnesota Sprint Championship on MN Festival Day 2014, with Dean Butler riding for Bernell Rhone. Bourbon County lost last year’s edition of this race by a nostril after setting the pace. Speed Is Life, winner of the 2014 Victor Myers Stakes and the Minnesota Derby, makes his first start of the year with Ry Eikleberry back in the saddle for trainer Doug Oliver.  The 10,000 Lakes will be run as race seven.

Jockey Leandro Goncalves is new to Canterbury this season and was attracted to Shakopee when top Midwest trainer Tom Amoss decided to send a string.  Goncalves , a multiple graded stakes winning pilot, was ranked 78th in North American by earnings last year with more than $3.2 million in purses. He has a career total of 1,527 wins in a decade of race riding. Goncalves has two mounts Friday but expect to see him riding more than that once everyone catches on.

Tom Amoss is a well-known commodity. Last year he was the ninth leading trainer in North American racing by wins and the 15th by earnings.  That makes two Top 10 nationally-acclaimed trainers in the mix at Canterbury. Robertino Diodoro, Canterbury’s leading trainer in 2014, finished last year with the fifth most wins. The Amoss stable is expected to arrive, ready to run, on Wednesday.

Angela Hermann will be writing program comments and paddock commentary again this season. Her selections can be found in advance at http://www.canterburypark.com/LiveRacing/RaceAnalysis/tabid/239/Default.aspx .

Jockey Justin Shepherd is approaching a career milestone of 1,000 wins. With 998 already in the books and two mounts Friday there is a chance for a winners’ circle celebration very soon.  Richard Grunder is handling business for Justin as well as newcomer Hugo Sanchez.

A Canterbury Classic, the 9-year-old Bizet, returns to Canterbury in Friday’s second race. Bizet is 20th on the list of all-time Canterbury money earners with $202,186. He has also earned another $50,000 racing in other states. The only other horse in the top 20 currently in training is Polar Plunge who is expected to run Saturday in the Lady Slipper Stakes.  They are both chasing Crocrock whose career ended with Shakopee earnings of $340,452.

From Minnesota Racing Commission press release:

Three veteran ROAP-accredited senior racing officials, David Hooper, James Lages and David Smith, have been approved by the Minnesota Racing Commission (MRC) to serve as State Stewards for the 2015 Canterbury Park racing season running 70 days from Friday, May 15 through September 12.The three newly appointed officials bring a broad cross-section of cumulative racing industry experience totaling 140 years.

“These three highly experienced racing professionals are dedicated to fulfilling the MRC’s regulatory mandate to protect the integrity of horse racing in Minnesota,” states Tom DiPasquale, Executive Director of the MRC. “The MRC is also taking additional steps for improving transparency and understanding of Steward decisions by launching the “Stewards’ Watch'”.

The Stewards’ Watch will be presented on the Canterbury Live Blog (www.canterburylive.com ) and in the daily official programs. Also, the Stewards will respond to questions from fans through the blog.

Hooper will be returning to Canterbury’s steward stand for his third year, and this year will serve as Chief Steward.  He is in his 55th year of service to the racing industry, 23 of those in a regulatory capacity. The New Jersey native has served as a Steward in eight states beginning in 1976 with the Kentucky Racing Commission where his mentor was Keene Daingerfield, recognized at that time as the dean of American racing officials.

Hooper has supervised the Stewards and harness racing Judges for four years while Executive Secretary of the Illinois Racing Board.  He has also been a faculty member of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, teaching courses on all aspects of racing regulation.   He has worked as a track announcer, hosted feature race of the day broadcasts from several tracks including Keeneland and Monmouth Park, and was the race analyst on ESPN’s coverage of the 1986 International Festival of Racing and WHAS telecasts of Derby Week and Saturday stakes at Churchill Downs for 16 years.

Lages has been involved in horse racing for 40 years, including a 10-year career as a jockey riding mostly on the East Coast and at major tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Virginia-born Lages has logged 23 years as a racing official as either placing and patrol judge, paddock judge, claims clerk and/or clerk of scales at Keeneland, Gulfstream Park, Hialeah, Meadowlands and Monmouth Park. He was appointed as State Steward in 2012 and has worked in that capacity in Florida at Gulfstream Park, Calder and Tampa Bay Downs and in Illinois at Fairmount Park before his Canterbury Park appointment.

Smith brings both trainer and longtime racing official experience to the 2015 Canterbury Board of Stewards. The Florida native, a graduate of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, worked under the tutelage of several highly successful conditioners, and became one of the youngest trainers in North America at 21. With 44 years of racing industry experience, Smith has served the past 28 years as a Steward in Illinois, Pennsylvania and most recently in Arizona.

 

-Notes compiled by press box staff

Thoughts on Opening Night Entries

May 15

Entries were taken today for opening night Friday, an eight-race program beginning at 6:30 p.m.  A total of 63 horses were entered overall including seven in the $60,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes for MN bred boys.

Defending champ Speakfromyourheart, whose lone win of 2014 came in this race, returns for trainer Vic Hanson with Jenna Joubert getting the mount. The morning line favorite is Bourbon County, winner of the Crocrock Minnesota Sprint Championship on MN Festival Day 2014, with Dean Butler riding for Bernell Rhone. Bourbon County lost last year’s edition of this race by a nostril after setting the pace. Speed Is Life, winner of the 2014 Victor Myers Stakes and the Minnesota Derby, makes his first start of the year with Ry Eikleberry back in the saddle for trainer Doug Oliver.  The 10,000 Lakes will be run as race seven.

Jockey Leandro Goncalves is new to Canterbury this season and was attracted to Shakopee when top Midwest trainer Tom Amoss decided to send a string.  Goncalves , a multiple graded stakes winning pilot, was ranked 78th in North American by earnings last year with more than $3.2 million in purses. He has a career total of 1,527 wins in a decade of race riding. Goncalves has two mounts Friday but expect to see him riding more than that once everyone catches on.

Tom Amoss is a well-known commodity. Last year he was the ninth leading trainer in North American racing by wins and the 15th by earnings.  That makes two Top 10 nationally-acclaimed trainers in the mix at Canterbury. Robertino Diodoro, Canterbury’s leading trainer in 2014, finished last year with the fifth most wins. The Amoss stable is expected to arrive, ready to run, on Wednesday.

Angela Hermann will be writing program comments and paddock commentary again this season. Her selections can be found in advance at http://www.canterburypark.com/LiveRacing/RaceAnalysis/tabid/239/Default.aspx .

Jockey Justin Shepherd is approaching a career milestone of 1,000 wins. With 998 already in the books and two mounts Friday there is a chance for a winners’ circle celebration very soon.  Richard Grunder is handling business for Justin as well as newcomer Hugo Sanchez.

A Canterbury Classic, the 9-year-old Bizet, returns to Canterbury in Friday’s second race. Bizet is 20th on the list of all-time Canterbury money earners with $202,186. He has also earned another $50,000 racing in other states. The only other horse in the top 20 currently in training is Polar Plunge who is expected to run Saturday in the Lady Slipper Stakes.  They are both chasing Crocrock whose career ended with Shakopee earnings of $340,452.

From Minnesota Racing Commission press release:

Three veteran ROAP-accredited senior racing officials, David Hooper, James Lages and David Smith, have been approved by the Minnesota Racing Commission (MRC) to serve as State Stewards for the 2015 Canterbury Park racing season running 70 days from Friday, May 15 through September 12.The three newly appointed officials bring a broad cross-section of cumulative racing industry experience totaling 140 years.

“These three highly experienced racing professionals are dedicated to fulfilling the MRC’s regulatory mandate to protect the integrity of horse racing in Minnesota,” states Tom DiPasquale, Executive Director of the MRC. “The MRC is also taking additional steps for improving transparency and understanding of Steward decisions by launching the “Stewards’ Watch'”.

The Stewards’ Watch will be presented on the Canterbury Live Blog (www.canterburylive.com ) and in the daily official programs. Also, the Stewards will respond to questions from fans through the blog.

Hooper will be returning to Canterbury’s steward stand for his third year, and this year will serve as Chief Steward.  He is in his 55th year of service to the racing industry, 23 of those in a regulatory capacity. The New Jersey native has served as a Steward in eight states beginning in 1976 with the Kentucky Racing Commission where his mentor was Keene Daingerfield, recognized at that time as the dean of American racing officials.

Hooper has supervised the Stewards and harness racing Judges for four years while Executive Secretary of the Illinois Racing Board.  He has also been a faculty member of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, teaching courses on all aspects of racing regulation.   He has worked as a track announcer, hosted feature race of the day broadcasts from several tracks including Keeneland and Monmouth Park, and was the race analyst on ESPN’s coverage of the 1986 International Festival of Racing and WHAS telecasts of Derby Week and Saturday stakes at Churchill Downs for 16 years.

Lages has been involved in horse racing for 40 years, including a 10-year career as a jockey riding mostly on the East Coast and at major tracks in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Virginia-born Lages has logged 23 years as a racing official as either placing and patrol judge, paddock judge, claims clerk and/or clerk of scales at Keeneland, Gulfstream Park, Hialeah, Meadowlands and Monmouth Park. He was appointed as State Steward in 2012 and has worked in that capacity in Florida at Gulfstream Park, Calder and Tampa Bay Downs and in Illinois at Fairmount Park before his Canterbury Park appointment.

Smith brings both trainer and longtime racing official experience to the 2015 Canterbury Board of Stewards. The Florida native, a graduate of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, worked under the tutelage of several highly successful conditioners, and became one of the youngest trainers in North America at 21. With 44 years of racing industry experience, Smith has served the past 28 years as a Steward in Illinois, Pennsylvania and most recently in Arizona.

 

-Notes compiled by press box staff