By Noah Joseph
Over the last hundred years, Canada has played a major role in the history of thoroughbred racing. From having the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America in the Queen’s Plate to being the home of the legendary Northern Dancer, and even hosting the Breeders’ Cup in 1996. Canada’s influence can also be found in Canterbury Park’s history. In fact, Canada played a big part in one of Canterbury’s most important races in consecutive years.
The Lady Canterbury is a race filled with history. Horses bred in America, Europe, and Australia have all won this race. Some winners went on to become champions, while others became successful broodmares. Aside from the U.S., no country had ever been the birthplace of back-to-back Lady Canterbury winners. But, in 1996, that would soon change with Camlan. Camlan was bred in Canada by Knob Hill Farm, who also owned Camlan during her racing days. The daughter of Brave Shot came into the 1996 Lady Canterbury off of a second place finish in the Nassau Stakes at Woodbine. While she was treated with respect from the local crowd, she was the second choice behind Apolda, who was coming off two straight stakes wins in Kentucky. Camlan also had to deal with Sixieme Sens, who had been racing in southern California. None of that mattered. Camlan led the field for almost the entire race and went on to win, but only by a head from Apolda with Sixieme Sens finishing third. Trained by Phillip England, Camlan got her first stakes victory that afternoon. It was a homecoming for Camlan’s jockey Sandy Hawley, who rode at Canterbury when it was known as Canterbury Downs. Camlan had fans wondering “can she win the Lady Canterbury again?”
It was not to be. The 1997 Lady Canterbury belonged to K Z Bay. Like Camlan, K Z Bay was bred in Canada, but by the Kinghaven Farm, who sold her as a yearling for $3,500 to Robert Ryno, who owned and trained the daughter of Charlie Barley. K Z Bay was a modest runner who had won four times in Shakopee and finished second in a stakes race in Canada, but still hadn’t won a stakes race. She entered the Lady Canterbury that year as the longest shot on the board behind the favorite Striesen and defending champion Camlan. Paul Nolan would ride K Z Bay to one of the most memorable races in Canterbury history as she went wire-to-wire, leading track announcer Paul Allen to say “Can you believe this?! K Z Bay at 30-1 wins the Lady Canterbury!” That call and that race went down in history as K Z Bay paid $67.80 to win, with Striesen finishing second and Camlan finishing off the board.
Camlan and K Z Bay. Winners of the Lady Canterbury with a Canadian connection.