By Katie Merritt
With 10 days remaining before the commencement of Canterbury Park’s 2017 live racing meet, there are already 430 horses stabled in the barn area. Many more van and trailer loads are anticipated over the coming week as Canterbury is expecting to be filled to capacity for the summer.
Last year’s top two jockeys, Dean Butler and Alex Canchari, have already arrived at Canterbury and are busy working horses and preparing for opening day on May 5. Canchari won an allowance race for trainer Garry Simms at Indiana Downs on April 21 prior to his Minnesota return, and turned down tempting offers to ride in New York and California in order to honor his commitments to ride at Canterbury this summer. Orlando Mojica, who was third in last years’ jockey standings after a late arrival to Canterbury Park, will arrive on the grounds April 30.
While many familiar faces will be rejoining the Canterbury jock’s colony, there will be a handful of new arrivals to the scene as well. Chad Lindsay, a recently turned journeyman who has been riding the southern California circuit, has decided to move his tack to Canterbury for the summer. Frankie Johnson, an apprentice rider who won his first race on April 7 aboard Bold Raider for trainer Jerry Cole at Fonner Park, will also be racing at Canterbury and will be represented by top agent Chuck Costanzo. Curtis Kimes, who is currently ranked fourth in the standings at Will Rogers Downs, a mere five wins behind the leading rider, is also rumored to be moving his tack to Minnesota. In addition, David Delgado, a top jockey from Spain who has been riding most recently at Tampa Bay Downs, will join the Canterbury colony.
The same three highly experienced racing stewards that worked the Canterbury Park meet in 2016 will be returning for the 2017 live race meet: David Hooper, Dave Smith and Jennifer Durenberger. There will also be the addition of a Safety Steward, Cynthia Smith, who will work to provide assurance of an overall compliance with medication rules and that the interests of all horsemen are being protected.
In efforts to conform with model rules and with racing jurisdictions around the country, Canterbury will be starting new practices that will help to further ensure the safety of both humans and equines at their facility. They will be strictly enforcing new rules that require safer helmets and vests for anyone on horseback and for anyone working on the starting gate. They have also installed lights and sirens on each 1/16th pole in order to alert people on the track when there is a loose horse. In addition, they will be mandating that horses working in front of the state vets in order to be removed from the vet’s list will be required to do so under the same medication rules that are applicable to racing.
Entries for the $50,000 L’Etoile Du Nord Stakes (fillies and mares 3 and up) and the $50,000 Paul Bunyan Stakes (3 and up) will close on April 28. Both races will be run at 5 1/2 furlongs on Derby Day, May 6.
Katie Merritt is a senior at the University of Kentucky and currently an intern in the Canterbury Park Press Box. Before returning to school she galloped at several tracks around the country, but spent the majority of her time working for Carl Nafzger and Ian Wilkes.