Unbridled: Canterbury’s Star

By Noah Joseph

On Sunday, September 24, 1989, race nine was the Canterbury Juvenile Stakes. Despite being a fairly new race, in just three previous editions it produced several top 2-year-olds including 1987 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, Success Express.

The winner of the ’89 Canterbury Juvenile, Appealing Breeze, also ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that year, but it was the colt that finished second in the Canterbury race that was on to bigger and better things.

That colt was Unbridled. The son of Fappiano was owned by Frances Genter, a 92- year-old woman from Minnesota who had owned racehorses, including 1986 Breeder’s’ Cup Sprint winner and Canterbury winner Smile, for several decades. The trainer of Unbridled was Carl Nafzger, who had stables around the country, including at what was then Canterbury Downs. Unbridled finished 1989 with two wins in six starts and never finished worse than third.

However, it was during his 3-year-old season when the magic happened. Unbridled won the 1990 Kentucky Derby after running well in several preps. His win was very special for Genter and Nafzger, for Nafzger called the race for the elderly owner.

 

Unfortunately, Unbridled didn’t win the Triple Crown, he finished second in the Preakness and  fourth in the Belmont, but he capped off his championship season with a win in that same year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic at Belmont Park and was voted champion 3-year old colt of 1990.

 

After a sub-par 1991 campaign, Unbridled was retired to stud, where his record was outstanding. Unbridled died in 2001, but not before he left his mark in the racing world. His son Unbridled’s Song is the sire of Arrogate, the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner along with the Pegasus and Dubai World Cups, while another son, Empire Maker, produced Bodemeister, the sire of this year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming, and Pioneerof the Nile, who gave us 2015 Triple Crown, Grand Slam, and Horse Of The Year American Pharoah. It’s hard to believe that a colt that finished second in a stakes race at Canterbury would grow up to be one of the best and produce some of today’s greatest horses.

Frances Genter’s Smile in the Canterbury winner’s circle after winning the 1986 Canterbury Cup.

 

Noah Joseph is a longtime Canterbury Park and horse racing fan. He’s been attending races at Canterbury since 2000 when he was 3 years old and has enjoyed every minute of it. Noah provides a weekly piece on CanterburyLive.com.

Moe Man Takes Bullit

Moe%20Man%20-%20John%20Bullit%20Overnight%20Stakes%20-%2008-16-13%20-%20R08%20-%20CBY%20-%20Inside%20FinishQuite appropriate. Very fitting. The trainer of a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner saddles the winning horse in a $35,000 overnight stake named for John Bullit, Canterbury Downs champion claimer in 1986, a horse ridden by Mike Smith, Julie Krone, Chris Antley, Scott Stevens and Dean Kutz among others.

Ian Wilkes, who conditioned 2012 Classic winner Fort Larned, sent out Moe Man, owned by Robert Lothenbach and ridden by Justin Shepherd.

The instructions were simple: “Ride your race.” Ride the race as it comes up.

“He’s a good rider. I know him from Kentucky,” said Wilkes, after Moe Man left a field of seven rivals eating his dust in a stretch burst, finishing 4 ½ lengths in front of Coconino Slim with Wild Jacob in third.

The easy victory left even Wilkes a bit stunned. “That was surprising, the way he came down the lane,” said Wilkes.

Wilkes, an Australian trainer, learned under a man well known to Canterbury fans – Carl Nafzger, who trained 1990 Kentucky Derby winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Unbridled.

If Wilkes was surprised by Moe Man’s easy win, so also were the Canterbury fans, who let him get away at 7-1. The favorite at 2-1 was Diamond Joe, who finished fourth.

John Bullit, incidentally, set track records in 1986 that still stand: on July 25, he ran 1 ¼ mile on the main track in 2:04 1/5. On Sept 26, he turned in a 3:11 2/5 for 1 7/8 on the turf.

He was trained originally by Clayton Gray, who bought the horse in a package deal and loved thereafter telling stories about how John Bullit would introduce himself to a new rider the same way each time: by sending the individual headlong into the rafters of the barn or the dirt in an arena.

The grand old gelding ran 31 times at Canterbury Down, winning 17 times.

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.

Mister Mardi Gras in Mile

Mister Marti Gras - Mystic Lake Mile - 07-13-13 - R08 - CBY - Under Rail Finish (1)The long awaited rains finally arrived Saturday morning, bringing to mind once more the time-worn admonition – be careful of what you wish for.

Horsemen, riders and even track management had hoped for rain to brighten up the yellowing turf course that was hardening day by day the past few weeks. With two premier races scheduled on the grass Saturday, the hope was that skies would open in time to deliver the perfect racing surface for Saturday’s three stakes races.

The feature events on this stellar card were the $100,000-guaranteed Lady Canterbury Stakes, the $125,000-guaranteed Mystic Lake Mile and the $54,100 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby.

The first two were scheduled on the turf – until mid morning on Saturday when it was determined that more than 4 and 1/4 inches of rain in three hours had rendered the grass course unusable.

The connections of five horses in each the Lady Canterbury and the Mystic Lake Mile decided that if the course was unusable their horses were too and reduced the 12- horse fields accordingly.

In absolutely bizarre twists, the fields were reduced further by events Stephen King might use at some point.

Before the 21st running of the Lady Canterbury, Lava Girl’s stirrup came loose and she was impaled by the iron. Then Smarty B bled warming up for the race and was scratched. “It sucks,” said rider Scott Stevens. “I’ve never had anything like this happen before.”

There was more to come, in the Mystic Lake Mile. Derby Kitten, third choice in the race, stumbled at the start and unseated Chris Landeros, depriving Ken and Sarah Ramsey and Landeros a sweep of the two thoroughbred stakes.

The Lady Canterbury set up perfectly for Awesome Flower and Landeros. “We just sat there and bided our time,” he said.

Awesome Flower stalked the pace early, moved up outside three horses to make her bid on the far turn and then dug in over the final 1/8th to win by ½ length over Bryan’s Jewel and 2 ¾ over Kune Kune, covering the mile in 1:37.54 over a fast track.

The inaugural running of the Mystic Lake Mile lost all of the speed upfront with the loss of Hammers Terror and Slip and Drive, the one-two finishers in the Brooks Fields Stakes.

Thus, Mister Marti Gras (pictured above) stalked the leaders in a pedestrian pace, saving ground on the run down the backside, and moved up at the eighth pole outside four others and finished ¾ length in front of Stachys, another head in front of Wild Jacob. The winning time was 1:38.

Winning owner Robert Lothenbach said in the winner’s circle afterward that he intends to bring four to six horses to Canterbury next week and maybe more later on.

Queried by paddock analyst Angela Hermann, Lothenbach said he is making the move because he likes Canterbury and the increase in purses here, thanks to the agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

$54,100 CANTERBURY QUARTER HORSE DERBY

Stacy Charette-Hill is still puzzled and tickled pink every time she lands in the winner’s circle, which is nearly every time she saddles a horse.

Her barn not only leads all others, it dominates.

Take the feature event on Saturday. The expression on her face said it all.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Her horses finished one-two-three and her barn cleaned up once more.

“This is unbelievable,” said her husband, Randy Hill, upon entering the winner’s circle.

It wasn’t even the fastest qualifier of the three who won on Saturday. It was HR Ebony Princess ridden by Ry Eikleberry.

“She’s unbelievable,” he said. “Her barn wins at about 70 percent and is in the money 80 percent of the time.”

The first two finishers are owned by Bobby and Vickie Hammer of Elmore City, Oklahoma. The winner had a touching story. “Her mother bled out giving her birth,” said Bobby, “and she was raised by a cuttin’ horse mare.”

“She was bigger than the mare,” said Vickie.

HR Ebony Princess underwent surgery for a chipped knee and was laid up for more than five months. She has found her stride once again.

HR Money Maker, the fastest qualifier in the trials, was second and First Price Wagon was third.

THOROUGHBRED EXCELLENCE ON THE BACKSIDE

Trainer Ian Wilkes was on the Canterbury Park backside Saturday morning overseeing matters for the arrival of four Lothenbach horses scheduled for Monday.

Wilkes, who saddled Fort Larned, the reigning Breeders Cup Classic winner, has been in Shakopee before, the first time when Unbridled ran second in the Canterbury Juvenile the year before he won the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders Cup Classic. He was also here to saddle a horse named Fluffkins.

It is quite natural that the name Carl Nafzger comes immediately to mind with the mention of those two horses. Wilkes worked as his assistant until Nafzger turned over the operation to him in 2006.

Wilkes plans to run four of Lothenbach’s horses at Canterbury. One of his assistants will oversee the operation in Shakopee. “I’ll be stopping by from time to time,” Wilkes said.

The remainder of Wilkes’ operation was in transit to Saratoga in upstate New York where the Nation’s premier thoroughbred meet gets underway this Friday.

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.

The 4th of July

Badge Of Glory - Frances Genter Stakes - 07-04-13 - R08 - CBY - Under Rail FinishNo one in the public eye of American Racing captured the hearts of the thoroughbred world more convincingly than a 92-year-old woman from Minnesota in 1990.

Frances Genter, the grand dame of American racing, is still recalled for her Kentucky Derby win with Unbridled and the emotional race call of trainer Carl Nafzger that year at Churchill Downs.

Her lack of height and advancing years prevented Mrs. Genter from seeing clearly over the heads of fans in front of her, so Nafzger, at her side, called the race as Unbridled brought home the roses that afternoon.

Although the Kentucky Derby win thrust her into the national spotlight, Frances Genter and her deceased husband, Harold, were widely credited with helping build the Florida thoroughbred industry.

They owned some of the legendary horses of racing and breeding including champion two-year-old filly My Dear Girl, 1951 Santa Anita Derby winner Rough ‘n Tumble, 1967 Florida Derby winner In Reality, and 1980 Flamingo Stakes winner Superbity.

Canterbury Park annually stages a race named for the Eclipse-Award winning Mrs. Genter, as it did on Thursday in front of more than 14,000 fans with the $50,000-guaranteed Frances Genter Stakes.

It is certainly appropriate that a jockey who was riding at Canterbury Park the year Unbridled won the Derby was also aboard the winner of this race named for the owner of the 1990 3-year-old North American Horse of the Year. It is also fitting that he won this race only once before in its 23 runnings, in 1990 aboard Superb Sympathy.

Hall of Fame jockey Scott Stevens, who put in the ride of the season so far, in an obscure race on Wednesday, had to change plans quickly during the course of the race after strategy A was dismantled quickly.

The plan for his horse, Badge of Glory was simple. “We wanted the lead,” Stevens said. “But we couldn’t keep up with Mac’s horse (Hall of Fame trainer Mac Robertson’s Blue Moon Magic).”

Then the plan disintegrated as Stevens’ horse began taking dirt in the face. “By the time I got her to settle, I think we only had two horses beat,” Stevens added.

His observation was exact.

With a half mile to go in the six-furlong event, Stevens was in front of only Top Vow and Adorkable. It was a glory run from there. “When I asked her, she really came running,” Stevens said.

Running indeed. Badge of Glory, owned by Cheryl Sprick and Richard Bremer, picked off horses one by one, eight in all, to finish one length in front of 54-1 outsider Sultry Queen with Anne Von Rosen up and 1 ½ in front of the tiring even money favorite Blue Moon Magic and Derek Bell.

The win was the third in the Frances Genter Stakes for trainer Bernell Rhone, who won last year with Happy Hour Honey and in 1997 with Anisha.

Badge of Glory wanted the lead on Thursday but benefited from the swift early pace up front when Sentiment Gray and Juan Rivera went right at Bleu Moon Magic to create fractions of 21.67, 44.66 and 57.98. The winner, a chestnut filly by Badge of Silver from Dracken, caught the tiring horses in front of her with a winning time of 1:12. 74.

The victory made Badge of Glory the fifth Minnesota-bred filly of all time to complete the Northern Lights Debutante/Frances Genter Stakes sweep capturing both the two-year-old and three-year-old Minnesota Sprint Stakes joining Her Sweet Saint (2010), Chick Fight (2009), Sentimental Charm (2006) and Samdanya (1998).

LUCKY DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN THE SAME THING

Trainer Randy Weidner, a native of Rosemount, was back in the winner’s circle Thursday with a horse named Track A Tac, his first winner since a tornado devastated his barn in Moore, Okla.

Track A Tac won the 350-yard dash, Thursday’s 10th race, just as his trainer and owner, M and M Racing Stables had hoped.

“This horse was waiting for me when I got here (after the tornado),” said Weidner. Originally, the horse was supposed to go to Oklahoma but the owner , Pat Krieg of Tucson, arranged for the horse to pick up a ride to Minnesota from Turf Paradise in Phoenix.

Pat was in North Dakota this week to attend her brother’s funeral. Her brother, Greg Marquardt, 63, was a jockey and raced in his younger days against Bernell and Russ Rhone and Gary Scherer.

So, the victory was bittersweet for Krieg.

And Weidner, too.

“When we got her we had a one-horse stable,” said Weidner, who is batting .500. Track A Tac is his second starter at Canterbury.

The horse’s barn name, by the way, is Lucky.

PICK YOUR PUPPY

Oscar appears to have some competition this year from a hippy cousin in the Dachshund ranks.

Oscar, the defending Wiener Dog race winner from 2012, was a little restive on Thursday but still beat nine rivals to the wire first in the warm-up for the Labor Day finals.

On his heels was Philly, a wirehair Dachsund, who hasn’t raced in nearly two years but looked in rare form nonetheless.

Philly is owned by Mike Linnemann and Emily Gage and is not to be taken lightly. He has two third-place finishes in this race and would like to change that this time around.

THE VIDEO SAYS IT ALL

Last, but certainly not least, let’s not forget that Canterbury held its annual hot dog eating contest on the fourth. However, the display of gluttony was too much for this blogger to overcome. Watch the video:

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.