Races Of The Past, and A New One For The Present

By Noah Joseph

This Saturday, Canterbury Park is introducing a new stakes race, the $100,000 Mystic Lake Turf Express. The race is five furlongs on the turf and has attracted a competitive field nine. Since Canterbury opened in 1985, many big stakes have been held at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular stakes races of the past.

In 1985, world-renowned jockey Bill Shoemaker came to Canterbury to ride Savannah Slew in

Savannah Slew arrives in Minnesota

the inaugural Canterbury Oaks for trainer Ron McAnally. The daughter of Seattle Slew came into Minnesota after running in the Kentucky Oaks that year. Savannah Slew, due to her racing experience and the presence of Shoemaker, was sent off as the heavy favorite, and won easily. She closed out her career with two Grade 3 wins at Santa Anita. In later years, the Canterbury Oaks was moved from the turf to the dirt, and was won by horses such as Tappiano, Do So (also trained by McAnally), and Capades. The race was discontinued in 1990, but returned when Canterbury re-opened in 1995, and was won by Fluffkins. Current Canterbury trainer Troy Bethke won the race in 1998 with Sibling Song. The Oaks was renamed the Northbound Pride Oaks and is still being held.

The Canterbury Cup, like the Canterbury Oaks, debuted in 1985, as a race to bring the best older horses to Minnesota in a race designed as a prep for the Breeders’ Cup. In 1986, Smile came to Canterbury to run in the race. Smile, owned by Minnesotan Frances Genter, was a Grade 1 winner at three and ran in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint in 1985, finishing second to Precisionist. Smile, under jockey Jacinto Vasquez won the race over Dramatic Desire. Smile then went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, becoming the first horse to race at Canterbury to win a Grade 1 race. In later years, the Canterbury Cup was won by horses such as Present Value, Dispersal, and Secret Hello, who won the last running of the race in 1991.

Cheapskate

In the early days, Canterbury’s crowning race was the Saint Paul Derby. A race that featured the best three year olds in the country, it quickly became an important race during the summer. The inaugural running was won by Cheapskate, at 72-1 odds under jockey Marco Castaneda, defeating Broad Brush and Gary Stevens by a nose. The following year, Lost Code defeated a small but select field of horses, including one of the top three year olds in the country in Cryptoclearance, who ran in all three Triple Crown races that year. Lost Code won the race, his sixth race in a row, and went on to run against the likes of Alysheba and Bet Twice. Longshot Fourstardave took the 1988 running at 50-1 under jockey Daryl Montoya. Fourstardave later became one of the most popular horses to race at Saratoga in New York, in which he won at least one race there from 1987-1994, earning him the nickname “The Sultan of Saratoga”. The Saint Paul Derby was last run in 1991 as the Minnesota Derby. Olympio won, driving by Richman in the final yards, in what would be one of seven stakes wins in 1991 for Olympio, five of which were graded stakes. He also ran fourth in the Preakness earlier that year.

Olympio wins 1991 Minnesota Derby

Over the years, Canterbury has had many big races come and go. But this new big race just might stay.

Sunday Saratoga Connections

Designer%20Legs%20-%20%2006-28-13%20-%20R06%20-%20CBY%20-%20FinishMost of the attention Sunday in the $20,000-added Cash Caravan Stakes was on defending champion Streak N Hot, Bob Morehouse winner Western Fun and a well-rested Naketa, making her first start in 13 months.

That’s the fun of a 440-yard quarter horse dash, as Explosive Guns demonstrated with an explosive burst under Jorge Torres, enabling him to put the tip of his nose in front of Tres My Tracks and Ry Eikleberry in the final jump

“He broke a little slowly,” said Torres, the leading quarter horse rider at Canterbury. “I gave him a little smack and he picked it up from there.”

Explosive Guns was a 6-1 choice in the six-horse field, behind Western Fun at 2-1, Tres My Tracks at 5-2 and Streak N Hot at 7-2. Western Fun was third under Stormy Smith and Naketa, 5-1, next with Mark Luark up.

The winner, timed in 22:09, is owned by Fred Pelzer of Royalton.

In the winner’s circle was Doug Hoseck of Hector, the owner of Beauty’s Prince, the No. 6 horse in the race and also the owner of Cash Caravan, who raced three seasons during the Canterbury Downs era.

Fourstardave Brings Back Fond Memories

Remember Fourstardave, the winner of the third St. Paul Derby and second New York-bred to win the most prestigious race in Canterbury Downs history?

Well, the folks in New York certainly do. Known as the Sultan of Saratoga, Fourstardave is one of three horses buried in Claire Court at Saratoga, honored thusly because he won at least one race at the Spa from 1987 to 1994.

Fourstar finished his career with a 21-18-16 record from 99 starts and earnings of $1.636 million.

He was preceded as a St. Paul Derby winner by another New York-bred named Cheapskate, who won the inaugural race in 1986 as a 72-1 longshot.

All of that is a long way of saying that $500,000 Grade II Fourstardave Handicap was run at Saratoga on Saturday. Earlier run as the Daryl’s Joy Handicap, Fourstardave won the race himself. It was renamed in his honor for the first time in 1996.

The winner on Saturday was the current horse of the year, Wise Dan, who took charge in midstretch to win easily by a length over King Kreese despite carrying 129 pounds, 12 more than the second place horse.

CANTERBURY MAIDEN-BREAKER TACKLES SARATOGA

The 97th running of the $200,000 Grade II Adirondack drew special attention from a number of folks at Canterbury Park on Sunday. The race included a two-year-old filly named Designer Legs (pictured above) who broke her maiden in Shakopee on June 28 with Denny Velazquez up.

Trained at that point by Gary Scherer, Designer Legs is owned by John and Sally Valene, long-time participants in Minnesota’s thoroughbred industry. The two-year-old daughter of Graeme Hall from Elegant Designer is currently trained by Dallas Stewart.

The Valenes watched the race at Canterbury Park and were delighted with the win, which required a stewards’ inquiry to alter the outcome.

Designer Legs finished maybe a long nose behind Who’s In Town. However, that one was involved in a significant bumping incident with the heavy favorite Fiftyshadesofgold. The stewards determined that Who’s In Town caused Fiftyshadesofgold a chance at a better placing and a defeat by a nose for Designer Legs became a victory via disqualification.

Velazquez was asked about the horse shortly before Sunday’s race. After breaking her maiden in Shakopee she won for a second time at Prairie Meadows.

“She’s a very nice filly. A fast filly,” he said.

He had a chance to ride her at Prairie Meadows as well.

“Yeah, you liked her so well you stayed here to ride an ostrich,” Scott Stevens joshed the young rider.

Small consolation, but Velazquez did win the ostrich race on extreme day.

Paddock analyst Angela Hermann was on the right horse on the right day, however. She was on Designer Legs like a Wall Street broker on an inside tip.

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.

A Derby by Any Other Name is Just as Sweet

The sportscasts percolated with the details that evening and banner headlines blared the news the next morning.

A longshot – 72-1 mind you – had won the inaugural running of the $300,000 St. Paul Derby, a race that became at first asking the crown jewel of Minnesota horse racing.

The year was 1986 and the horse was Cheapskate (pictured above on the inside) who turned out to be anything but – nothing cheap whatsoever about a $2 ticket that returns $146 at the window, and 23,351 fans witnessed the pulsating finish in this headline grabbing race.

Horses that had run earlier in America’s Classic Races were vanned or flown into Shakopee to participate, Kentucky Derby participants Broad Brush, Bachelor Beau and Rampage that first spring. It was Broad Brush, the third place horse at Churchill Downs the previous month, who engaged Cheapskate in a scintillating stretch duel before losing by a nose to the New York-bred upstart.

Thus began a short five-year span that produced some of the most memorable names in the early history of state pari-mutuel racing – Cheapskate, Lost Code, Fourstardave, Clever Trevor and Secret Hello.

The St. Paul Derby immediately became the trademark race of Canterbury Downs, was awarded Grade III status for its second running, then became a Grade II race and annually drew one of the largest turnouts and betting handles of a season. A crowd of 23,000-plus that first year wagered $2,146,546 million on the card. A turnout of 23,171 pushed $2,265,204 through the windows in 1987, and 15,744 wagered $1,808,401 the next year.

Now, 26 years after Cheapskate became the buzz at water coolers across the state on a Minnesota Monday morning, the Derby returns, this time as the $150,000 Mystic Lake Derby. The St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and much of the city’s business community rallied with sponsorships and promotion of the race named for the Capitol City back then. Now, it is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community that has joined forces with Canterbury Park to create the biggest purse since the St. Paul Derby became the $250,000 Minnesota Derby in 1991.

“This now has become our signature race and we hope the first step in bringing back the type of race seen in the early days of Canterbury,” said track president/CEO Randy Sampson. “We’d like to get back to that type of racing with the Mystic Lake Derby. That is totally the idea.”

Although many of those early racing crowds were large and wagering robust, most Minnesotans didn’t recognize what they had in those formative years – top-level racing from top-level horses and stables. The promotional agreement and enhanced purse fund from the recent pact with Mystic Lake point once again in that direction, at a minimum to stabilized, improved racing for the state’s thoroughbred and quarter horse industries.

The Mystic Lake Derby is a symbolic nod to the past but an also a glimpse into the future of Minnesota racing.

“Yes, this is a stepping stone so to speak,” said HBPA president Tom Metzen. “Next year it will be an even bigger race, and Mystic Lake deserves it. There are so many things that are right about this agreement, and the Mystic Lake people have been absolutely gracious to deal with.”

Perhaps the future includes some of the wonder, glory and romance of those early St. Paul Derby days. Consider, for example, the following:

Broad Brush, the runner up to Cheapskate by maybe three inches, Bachelor Beau and Rampage were all Grade I winners. ESPN broadcast that first Derby to 1.1 million viewers, making it the highest rated presentation on its Budweiser Racing Across America Racing series that year.

Lost Code, the son of 1980 Preakness Stakes winner Codex, found the right strategy for winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby, a gate-to-wire romp against seven rivals, including Florida Derby winner Cryptoclearance who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, third in the Preakness and second in the Belmont Stakes that spring.

Fourstardave became the second New York-bred horse to win Minnesota’s biggest race, in 1988, but arrived without a rider. No was willing to ride the horse for trainer Leo O’Brien until he got to Shakopee and spotted an old friend, Daryl Montoya, on the list of jockey names.

The result was magical. The horse no one wanted to ride went off at 21-1 and provided Montoya with the biggest win of his career.

The 1989 St. Paul Derby, Clever Trevor’s Derby, was the first race simulcast from Canterbury Downs and drew wagering of $469,613 from other tracks in addition to the on-track $319,854 bet on the race. Ak-Sar-Ben, Remington Park , Detroit Race Course, Thistledown, Blue Ribbons Downs and Ruidoso Downs offered the Derby and introduced Canterbury to a new aspect of wagering.

Then came the final St. Paul Derby, in 1990, and a horse named Secret Hello, ridden by Pat Day and trained by Frank Brothers. Secret Hello claimed the winner’s share of $300,000 and his share of the $100,000 bonus as a Grade I winner, the first horse to do so. Instead of $180,000, Secret Hello collected $240,000 that day.

A sidenote: Fourth that afternoon was the Brothers-trained Appealing Breeze, who the previous summer on the same track had won the Canterbury Juvenile over Unbridled, the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and that year’s Eclipse Award winning three-year-old colt.

There it is, a taste of Canterbury ‘s St. Paul Derby past and perhaps a look into its future, beginning with today’s Mystic Lake Derby.

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.

A Derby by Any Other Name is Just as Sweet

The sportscasts percolated with the details that evening and banner headlines blared the news the next morning.

A longshot – 72-1 mind you – had won the inaugural running of the $300,000 St. Paul Derby, a race that became at first asking the crown jewel of Minnesota horse racing.

The year was 1986 and the horse was Cheapskate (pictured above on the inside) who turned out to be anything but – nothing cheap whatsoever about a $2 ticket that returns $146 at the window, and 23,351 fans witnessed the pulsating finish in this headline grabbing race.

Horses that had run earlier in America’s Classic Races were vanned or flown into Shakopee to participate, Kentucky Derby participants Broad Brush, Bachelor Beau and Rampage that first spring. It was Broad Brush, the third place horse at Churchill Downs the previous month, who engaged Cheapskate in a scintillating stretch duel before losing by a nose to the New York-bred upstart.

Thus began a short five-year span that produced some of the most memorable names in the early history of state pari-mutuel racing – Cheapskate, Lost Code, Fourstardave, Clever Trevor and Secret Hello.

The St. Paul Derby immediately became the trademark race of Canterbury Downs, was awarded Grade III status for its second running, then became a Grade II race and annually drew one of the largest turnouts and betting handles of a season. A crowd of 23,000-plus that first year wagered $2,146,546 million on the card. A turnout of 23,171 pushed $2,265,204 through the windows in 1987, and 15,744 wagered $1,808,401 the next year.

Now, 26 years after Cheapskate became the buzz at water coolers across the state on a Minnesota Monday morning, the Derby returns, this time as the $150,000 Mystic Lake Derby. The St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and much of the city’s business community rallied with sponsorships and promotion of the race named for the Capitol City back then. Now, it is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community that has joined forces with Canterbury Park to create the biggest purse since the St. Paul Derby became the $250,000 Minnesota Derby in 1991.

“This now has become our signature race and we hope the first step in bringing back the type of race seen in the early days of Canterbury,” said track president/CEO Randy Sampson. “We’d like to get back to that type of racing with the Mystic Lake Derby. That is totally the idea.”

Although many of those early racing crowds were large and wagering robust, most Minnesotans didn’t recognize what they had in those formative years – top-level racing from top-level horses and stables. The promotional agreement and enhanced purse fund from the recent pact with Mystic Lake point once again in that direction, at a minimum to stabilized, improved racing for the state’s thoroughbred and quarter horse industries.

The Mystic Lake Derby is a symbolic nod to the past but an also a glimpse into the future of Minnesota racing.

“Yes, this is a stepping stone so to speak,” said HBPA president Tom Metzen. “Next year it will be an even bigger race, and Mystic Lake deserves it. There are so many things that are right about this agreement, and the Mystic Lake people have been absolutely gracious to deal with.”

Perhaps the future includes some of the wonder, glory and romance of those early St. Paul Derby days. Consider, for example, the following:

Broad Brush, the runner up to Cheapskate by maybe three inches, Bachelor Beau and Rampage were all Grade I winners. ESPN broadcast that first Derby to 1.1 million viewers, making it the highest rated presentation on its Budweiser Racing Across America Racing series that year.

Lost Code, the son of 1980 Preakness Stakes winner Codex, found the right strategy for winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby, a gate-to-wire romp against seven rivals, including Florida Derby winner Cryptoclearance who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, third in the Preakness and second in the Belmont Stakes that spring.

Fourstardave became the second New York-bred horse to win Minnesota’s biggest race, in 1988, but arrived without a rider. No was willing to ride the horse for trainer Leo O’Brien until he got to Shakopee and spotted an old friend, Daryl Montoya, on the list of jockey names.

The result was magical. The horse no one wanted to ride went off at 21-1 and provided Montoya with the biggest win of his career.

The 1989 St. Paul Derby, Clever Trevor’s Derby, was the first race simulcast from Canterbury Downs and drew wagering of $469,613 from other tracks in addition to the on-track $319,854 bet on the race. Ak-Sar-Ben, Remington Park , Detroit Race Course, Thistledown, Blue Ribbons Downs and Ruidoso Downs offered the Derby and introduced Canterbury to a new aspect of wagering.

Then came the final St. Paul Derby, in 1990, and a horse named Secret Hello, ridden by Pat Day and trained by Frank Brothers. Secret Hello claimed the winner’s share of $300,000 and his share of the $100,000 bonus as a Grade I winner, the first horse to do so. Instead of $180,000, Secret Hello collected $240,000 that day.

A sidenote: Fourth that afternoon was the Brothers-trained Appealing Breeze, who the previous summer on the same track had won the Canterbury Juvenile over Unbridled, the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and that year’s Eclipse Award winning three-year-old colt.

There it is, a taste of Canterbury ‘s St. Paul Derby past and perhaps a look into its future, beginning with today’s Mystic Lake Derby.

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.