You’ve seen him around Canterbury during a live racing day. Or if you haven’t seen him, you’ve seen his work. He’s Ryan Soule. He’s worked here as the finish line and paddock camera operator for 15 years. He provides that exciting finish line video you watch while the photo is being deciphered. Ryan’s year-round job is a graphic designer in motion and print for a local TV production company whose projects appear on Discovery Channel, History Channel and HGTV.
This week Ryan will be traveling to Louisville, Kentucky to work with the Coady Photography team as they document the Kentucky Derby. The connection came through Shawn Coady who handles the winner’s circle photography here. The Coady family has been in that business at tracks across the country for many years and also has the Churchill Downs contract. Shawn and Ryan became friends and Ryan was invited to work the Derby for the first time in 2017.
That year Ryan was assigned to infield still photography. “I brought my Go Pro video camera and captured some footage as well,” Soule said. That footage turned into a montage that impressed Coady.
Now his role on the team is primarily video, documenting the photography team as they document the Derby. “I capture video of them as they work at the biggest race of the year,” Soule said. “They use it for social media purposes.” But he is also a utility player. “I fill in if someone gets sick, needs a break or whatever.”
It’s a great gig.
“I get to watch some history. Use my skills and help out a great team of photographers,” he said.
Soule admits this year will be different. The 150,000 sports fans, revelers, sharpies and frauds won’t be there. The stands will be empty thanks to COVID-19. Working at Canterbury this summer with a relatively silent apron has somewhat prepped him though. But when you document history, you take that history as it comes and that’s what Ryan Soule will be doing this weekend at Churchill Downs.
Minnesota bred Mr. Jagermeister faces six other 3-year-olds in the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes today at Oaklawn Park. This kicks off the three-day Racing Festival of the South at the Hot Springs, Ark, racetrack.
Mr. Jagermeister arrived at Oaklawn earlier this week from his Phoenix base with trainer Valorie Lund and has settled into the shedrow of Mac Robertson. Yesterday Lund schooled the colt along with several of Robertson’s stakes runners that will compete in the Festival. Mac provided some pointers along the way about the Oaklawn facility. All went well according to Lund in both the enclosed paddock and the grassy area where stakes horses parade.
“I couldn’t ask him to be any better,” she said. “He is full of himself.”
Mr. Jagermeister galloped a mile and a half on Wednesday and was scheduled to jog this morning.
“He looks and feels marvelous,” Lund said.
Jockey Andrew Ramgeet, who has been aboard in five of six career starts, winning three of them including the Northern Lights Futurity, is due in town this morning from Phoenix.
The speedy favorite Mitole from the Steve Asmussen barn is the horse to beat. He has won two of four starts at Oaklawn and most recently romped in an allowance earning a 97 Beyer Speed Figure, the best of any entered.
Fans of racing in Shakopee know that Mr. Jagermeister looked Amy’s Challenge in the eye in the Shakopee Juvenile last September before grudgingly conceding. Amy’s Challenge, one of Robertson’s stakes horses who races in Friday’s $400,000 Fantasy Stakes, is one of the best fillies in the country. Lund is hoping today’s Bachelor unfolds like the Shakopee Juvenile with Mr. Jagermeister sitting off the pace early. Of course that was the plan in the San Vicente before he broke on top and dueled through grueling fractions and faded. Today could be different with the right trip. Lund is hoping Mr. Jagermeister can “sit, engage, and go on.” It all unfolds in the ninth race on the Oaklawn program slated to run at 5:10 p.m.
Steamy, muggy, humid. Or as mother used to say, “close.”
Under those conditions, Canterbury Park conducted the 24th running of the Festival of Champions Sunday, an afternoon of racing restricted to Minnesota-bred horses and highlighted by a sensational two-year-old, a pair of full brothers who won the two quarter horse races, the retirements of two prominent and celebrated horses, the crowning of the quarter horse riding and training champions, the return of a Hall of Fame rider and various other tidbits of racing interest.
$85,000 NORTHERN LIGHTS DEBUTANTE
First-time starter, a two-year-old, didn’t get much work, don’t know what to expect with these babies, then a big bump out of the gate knocks her sideways, might as well go home, prepare for next time.
Whoa! Not so fast. Not if you happen to be a filly named Firstmate, a daughter of Midshipman from Lion Club, and a $50,000 MTA yearling sales-topper.
That changes the entire paradigm; it certainly did in the Northern Lights Debutante.
This filly underwent all of the aforementioned setbacks but was not deterred by a single one, putting herself back in the race once she regained her equilibrium. Firstmate regained the confidence of rider Quincy Hamilton with a strong move into the turn. “I knew she was just fine then,” he said.
The stretch drive remained but, once there, this Midshipman baby began saluting the finish line with a finishing kick that left the competition in dramatic arrears.
Owner Barry Butzow regained his entire purchase price in this lady’s maiden outing, an infrequent if not rare occurrence. Firstmate was running third, three lengths off the lead at the head of the stretch. She had nine lengths on Raging Gold Digger and another neck on Cabloosie Bay at the finish.
The time for the race was 1:13.24.
So what was it caught Butzow’s eye at the MTA sale?
“I looked at her size and the way she was put together,” he said. “You can look in her eye and see that she’s a classy animal.”
Classy indeed and a $51,000 bank account to prove it…after one race.
$60,000 DISTAFF CLASSIC
When does, oh , say, 100 yards or so translate into an inch or two?
When those distances are measured on the racetrack and applied to the dynamics of a given race.
Say, the mile and 1/16th Festival event for fillies and mares three years of age and older.
If, for example, Jareth Loveberry had waited another 100 yards to move his horse, instead of asking her early on the turn, his horse’s head likely would have hit the wire with room to spare. “I made a mistake,” he said. “I moved wrong.”
Additional proof that even one of the two best riders in Shakopee this summer can goof up on occasion. That early move proved vital, allowing Pinup Girl under Leslie Mawing to catch the tiring leader from the ¾ pole, Double Bee Sting, and bob his head at the right time.
The loss denied owner Curtis Sampson, the current leader, another win in his pursuit of the champion owner’s crown for the meet.
At the same time, it helped balance the books for trainer Sandra Sweere, whose recent drought was on her mind at the finish of this particular race.
First, however, there was the matter of that nail-biting finish.
“We wanted to make it exciting,” she said, then turning to the serious ramifications of winning a $60,000 race, like making up for a dry spell in the barn this summer. “This will make a difference,” she said. “We needed this.”
-Pinup Girl, with a winning time of 1:45.06, had a head on Double Bee Sting at the wire and eight additional lengths on Sioux Appeal.
$60,000 DISTAFF SPRINT
There were subtexts and stories within a story in this four-horse race that brought together former allies in pursuit of one last victory for a retiring mare, who won the race two years ago and finished second last year to the morning line favorite this time around.
Jeff and Deb Hilger, owners and breeders of Rockin the Bleu’s, teamed up with rider Scott Stevens, their very first jockey in the business, to ride this last race for them and the horse, now retirees from the sport that has been their passion the last three decades. Could this daughter of Rockport Harbor dig deep enough to beat the younger rival who defeated her in this race last year, Honey’s Sox Appeal? Could she deliver one last time?
Horse racing has plenty of stories that deliver such scripts. This was not one of them. Under Alex Canchari, Honey’s Sox Appeal took command at the top of the lane and drew off to hit the wire 1 ½ lengths in front of Rockin the Bleu’s and Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens.
“We tried. She ran hard and gave it her all,” said Stevens.
One person’s unfilled story is another’s tale of triumph.
With Alex Canchari up, Honey’s Sox Appeal waited patiently until finding room on the inside to make her move at the three-sixteenth’s marker.
Owner Bob Lindgren extolled the consistency of his horse, a prerace record of 5-4-2 from 12 career starts, and all of the signs that pointed to a victory in this race, including the best Beyer in the field.
All of that was in evidence as Honey’s Sox Appeal repeated as the Distaff Sprint champion.
$85,000 NORTHERN LIGHTS FUTURITY
There was only one question in any pre-race analysis before this race:
Would something unforeseen prevent the odds-on favorite and projected easy winner from dominating 10 rivals for the winner’s share of the pot?
Possibly only something that trainer Valorie Lund had experienced before. She once saddled an odds-on choice whose presence had created what handicappers were calling a one-horse race. Low and behold a goose flew out of the infield and struck the horse, causing it to stop momentarily and ultimately loose the race.
All of that was in the back of her mind when she sent out Mr. Jagermeister a heralded two-year-old colt with two races under his belt and a record of 1-1-0. She knew that everything indicated there wasn’t a horse in this race the equal of Mr. Jag, yet the story of the goose infiltrated her confidence.
This talented two-year-old had won by 11 ½ lengths in his maiden start at Canterbury July 4, but finished second at Prairie Meadows at the end of the month when he tired after running a 44 and 3 half mile. He had set all of the fractions but the last in that race. “He went too fast at the front so I took the blinkers off hoping to settle him for this year,” she explained.
The plan worked.
With Andrew Ramgeet up, Mr. Jagermeister smoked eight rivals, gliding to a 15 ½ length victory over Speeding Kid and 18 ¾ in front of Magic Cowboy.
The future for this speedball is still in the making, but there is a footnote to the story: The horse is owned by Lund and two of her sisters. Her sister Kristin Boice bought the dam, Frangelica, to breed to Atta Boy Roy. She, Valorie and Leslie Cummings are the owners of record and celebrated the fact that no geese were present to interfere with their horse’s dominating performance.
$60,000 CROCROCK SPRINT CHAMPIONSHIP
Smooth Chiraz has a name that conjures up thoughts of a fine liqueur, an after-dinner drink or an introductory libation to begin a late evening conversation.
A drink with a bit of fire in it, followed by a smooth and palatable aftertaste.
Which is precisely what Smooth Chiraz typically needs to win a race. He has to fire quickly and then glide effortlessly on the lead, guiding the field to the finish line, as he did on Sunday is this sprint for 3-year-old and older colts and geldings.
With Jareth Loveberry in the irons, Smooth Chiraz led this race gate to wire, dueling on the lead and then taking charge inside the quarter pole. It was his kind of race, and the 4-year-old son of Chitoz drew off in the stretch drive to a 4 ¾ length win over Fridaynitestar, who had ¾ length on odds-on favorite and 2015 horse of the year Hold for More.
“Today he fired,” said trainer Francisco Bravo. “And when he runs on the front, his heart gets big and he’s built to be a sprinter.”
Smooth Chiraz was sent off at 9-1 in a seven-horse field that included the seven-year-old Bourbon County, who beat only one horse.
“It’s official,” said owner Scott Rake of Bourbon County. “He’s retired.”
$60,000 WALLY’S CHOICE CLASSIC
New trainer, new owner and a new lease on life.
That sums up in part at least the interesting saga of the winning horse in this race, who had fewer earnings than all but one horse in the seven-horse lineup and last won in claiming company on June 22.
True West, previously trained by Karl Broberg, was claimed from Cheryl Sprick and Richard Bremer for $10,000 in May. John Mentz became the new owner and Mac Robertson took over the training.
Sunday afternoon, True West, whose previous earnings totaled $73,105, was sent off at 11-1 and picked up a check for $36,000, defeating a field that included two previous winners of the race, A P is Loose (2015) and Speed Is Life (2016).
“We were very happy with this win and where we were (throughout),” said Mentz. “We knew we had horse.”
With Israel Hernandez up, True West was part of the pace into the first turn and stayed part of the chase to the head of the stretch where he took command and held off all threats to finish one length in front of Vanderbilt Beach at 6-1 and two and ¾ lengths ahead of A P Is Loose at odds-on money.
$50,300 MINNESOTA DERBY, $51,000 FUTURITY
There was a television sitcom some time ago that sizes up these two races perfectly:
ALL IN THE FAMILY.
How better to describe a tandem of races won by full brothers owned by the same family, who got into the business 11 years ago after being approached by a horse owner after church.
Owner Bruce Lunderborg and his wife, Judy, live in Weber, about 10 miles north of New Ulm. He was video taping a service at St. John’s Church in Farifax. Afterward he was approached by a fellow who wanted to sell him half interest in a horse.
Lunderborg turned him down.
But not the second time.
Sunday, the Lunderborgs were in the winner’s circle after PYC Jess Bite Mydust won the Derby under Brayan Velazquez and again a short time later when Dickey Bob won the Futurity , again under Velazquez. Joining them both times was the track’s leading quarter horse trainer Jason Olmstead. The winning horses are full brothers, by Apolitical Jess from Paint or More.
QUARTER HORSE AWARDS
Olmstead received his champion belt buckle after winning the trainer’s title a third straight year.
The difference this time?
He was pressed until the last two or three weeks by Hall of Fame trainer Ed Ross Hardy, who won 12 training titles at Canterbury.
“He made a heck of a race of it,” said Olmstead. “We just outnumbered him (with number of starting horses). That was the only difference.”
Oscar Delgado thought of only one thing after winning the riding title:
His family. “You have to mention them,” he said. He was referring to his wife, Toni, daughters Celeste and Madisyn and son, Christian. “And we have one on the way,” he added.
For a couple of moments on Sunday, the past became the present, history became real time, and one of the grand dames of Minnesota racing history was alive on the track.
The long gray tail floated behind her in a steady breeze, and her rivals saw only clods of damp earth and her behind. She was first out of the gate and no one even drew abreast as she glided easily to the finish line under Victor Santiago.
A five-year-old gray mare named Puntsville floated through swift fractions to win the 25th running of the $50,000 Hoist Her Flag Stakes, named for the gray Canterbury Park Hall of Fame mare. Although perhaps a shade darker, Sunday’s winner bore striking resemblance to the two-time Canterbury Downs horse of the year.
“We were just saying that,” said Canterbury Park President/CEO Randy Sampson. “She’s a big good looking gray mare.”
Hoist Her Flag won 17 times from 43 starts in Shakopee and was named the outstanding horse on the grounds in 1987 and again in 1989.
Puntsville at 5/2 finished 3 ¼ lengths in front of 6/5 favorite Thoughtless and another 4 ½ head of Malibu Princess after setting all the fractions: 22.02, 44.79, 57.01 and 1:09.87.
“She’s very quick,” said Santiago, who had ridden the winner in nine of her previous 10 starts. “I was just praying to God that we would get a good quick jump.”
She did just that, and the race essentially was over.
The theme of the afternoon was hope and there were plenty of things covered under that umbrella. Hope that the sun would make an appearance, that the rain would hold off until the card was complete. There was, as always, hope at the windows as patrons placed their wagers, hope right up until a winner hit the finish line.
Despite iron-gray skies throughout the afternoon, there was plenty of pink throughout the premises on annual Fillies Race for Hope day, dedicated to the understanding, treatment and hope for eradication of breast cancer.
The feature event on the card annually is the Hoist Her Flag Stakes.
Messages promoting the theme of the day could be found throughout the grounds. The tote board from time to time advised the crowd that “Early Detection is Key.” There was a thank you message from the Fillies Race for Hope committee.
Valets to the riders wore shirts celebrating the occasion. The outriders and pony horses and their riders were festooned in pink accouterment, wraps, tack and other related items.
Raffles, drawings and donations contributed to the fund that supports this endeavor.
Patrons could be found in pink slacks, hats, dresses, shoes accompanied in some cases by pink purses. Employees in the Coady photography studio, the finest enterprise of its type in all of racing, wore pink suspenders and ties, did Shawn Coady and Senor Oscar Quiroz, who also helped work the gate at times without sullying his shirt or pink tie.
Coady was moved early in the day to loan his bowtie to a forgetful member of the Fourth Estate who arrived prepared to attack the day in conventional attire.
Pressbox magistrate Jeff Maday’s black suit was nattily set off with fashionably muted pink tie and cufflinks. Breast cancer survivors assembled in the paddock to offer thanks and encouragement in pink western hats and other attire.
A debate ensued over the true color of the dress worn by pressbox assistant Katie Merritt. Was it really pink or closer to coral?
Ultimately, it didn’t matter. It was in keeping with the colors and the spirit of the day.
On Monday, Shadow Rock won the $50,000 Honor the Hero Stakes at Canterbury Park. That win was just one of several stakes winners at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack for trainer Michael Maker. Maker is a nationally acclaimed trainer who has horses, and wins races all over the country. During the past few years, Maker has made his presence felt at Canterbury, particularly in stakes races. Including Shadow Rock’s win on Monday, Maker has won six stakes at Canterbury since 2013, including the Lady Canterbury twice with Awesome Flower.
Prior to those wins, Maker was, and remains, the king of the Claiming Crown. When it was held at Canterbury, Maker entered horses in almost every race, and had two that that went on to greater success. The first was Furthest Land. After being claimed for $35,000 in 2008, Furthest Land won several races afterwards. Although he finished fourth in the 2009 Claiming Crown Jewel, he went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile that same year. The other horse was Headache. After winning the 2010 Claiming Crown Jewel at Canterbury, Headache won two graded races and even ran in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Mike Maker is a truly accomplished trainer and is greatly respected by the racing community. Shadow Rock gave him another Canterbury win, but as we approach the big stakes races of the meet, look for many horses trained by Maker to be nominated, and expect at least one to be entered in all of them.
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.
Jockey races are often of more interest to the people who keep statistics and record the data on such things at racetracks. Riders, for their part, are more interested in staying healthy and collecting a healthy paycheck.
But not entirely…
The competitive side of any rider is apt to show when a title is on the line, even if he prefers not to discuss the topic.
Many observers and press-box experts had pretty much turned the 2013 title over to Dean Butler, coming as he did into Thursday’s card with an 11-win lead over Ry Eikleberry and a 12-win margin on Alex Canchari who won five of the eight races on Thursday’s card, for the third time in his career but the first at Canterbury.
Eikleberry will spend the next seven calendar days on suspension, so that pretty much takes him out of the picture. Canchari returned from ‘days’ last Sunday and was considered a longshot to overtake Butler.
Ah… not so fast.
Canchari grew up in the shadow of Canterbury Park, a resident of Shakopee whose father moved here from Peru as a rider in the 1980s. Canchari the younger once worked at Canterbury selling tacos and soft drinks.
Twelve wins is a lot to make up with eleven days left in the meet analysts thought before Thursday’s card, but then…
Canchari’s five wins Thursday cut Butler’s lead to seven, still a tall over with 10 days to go.
“But he’s not out of it,” said Canchari’s father, Luis. “That would be so nice, a Minnesota rider winning the title for the first time in track history.”
Stay tuned, the action resumes Friday.
PICTURES WERE HIS THING
Canterbury horse owners, patrons and the regular readers of the track’s blog site have become familiar in the last two years with the high quality of the photography – the crisp colors and revealing portraits of life at the racetrack.
Those high standards began the day that Shawn Coady arrived at Canterbury Park having recently completed the meet at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, where photography began for him as a youngster. A family business was started there in 1962 by his grandfather, Jack, a one-time Phoenix newspaperman who later moved his camera to the racetrack and began shooting pictures that have become iconic representations of racing in the Arizona desert.
The Coady family lost a vital member of their business on Monday when Jeff, father to Shawn, Kurtis, Kevin and Christopher and husband to Nelda, died at age 62 at his home in Luling, Texas, after a lengthy struggle with cancer.
The photo business started by Jack Coady at Turf Paradise in Phoenix expanded to more than 20 racetracks in the nation and involved every male member of the family including Jack, jr., brother to Jeff, who will continue operating Coady Photography with his nephews.
For more on the Coady family and their photography business, read this post which features their story. It was originally posted in July 2012.
Hard to beat the payoff on the winner of Thursday’s fourth race, a mile, 70 yard affair with 12 starters.
“Get ready for some enormous payoffs on this one,” said announcer Kevin Gorg, filling in for Paul Allen who was attending to his duties as Vikings announcer.
Gorg wasn’t kidding.
Martin Escobar brought in Sunny Silver, trained and owned by Jose Ibarra at 53-1, good for a $108 return on a $2 bet. Sunny Silver paid $108, $43.40 and $14.60 across the board.
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.
There is something special about the ability to take a picture at precisely the right instant, catching the emotion of a single moment on a person’s face, the joy or grief of a specific occasion.
Well-taken pictures can tell us who won and at what cost, who lost and its expense. They can capture all that needs be said about an event. Well-taken pictures are worth a thousand words and often more.
They preserve the past and sometimes predict the future… if only the latter were true at the racetrack!
You might have noticed that the photography at Canterbury Park has taken on a different, distinctive and even artistic quality this summer. You might have noticed that the colors are brighter, the angles more revealing and even the shading sometimes evocative.
The horses come to life, preserved for future generations in a compelling pose or restive moment. The jockeys are by turns happy, even gleeful, irritated, even angry, reflective, even expressionless.
Say hello to Shawn Coady, one of several members of a family born with spare film in their pockets, several lenses in their knapsacks and a love for picture-taking as it was intended.
Grandpa Jack, a transplanted Phoenician from Chicago, started out snapping pictures for the Arizona Republic in the late 1950s or early 1960s. Often on assignment at Turf Paradise, he struck up a friendship with the track’s publicity head. Welcome to picture-taking in the equine world and the start of a family industry covering tracks across the nation.
Shawn, his younger brothers Kevin and Kurtis, their father, Jeff, and their uncle, Jack, Jr. are all involved in the photo business at various tracks.
It started many years ago when Jeff and Jack, Sr. headed to Canada and Stampede Park. Shawn and his brothers were born there. “We have dual citizenship,” Shawn said before Saturday’s race card in Shakopee.
Shawn, 37, was maybe 14 years of age when the Coadys returned to Phoenix, around 1988 as he recalls.
His boyhood home and the school he attended, Thunderbird High School, were not much more than a mile from Turf Paradise.
His father had a home with horse property on Greenway Ave., room enough to board 20 horses or so.
Shawn’s grandfather took pictures that are racetrack classics, precursors to the talent his grandsons inherited and display in their work today.
A couple of examples of their grandfather’s work hang in Shawn’s office at Canterbury Park, Jackie Gleason standing near a jockey on the scales, Jackie Gleason surrounded by riders, some in silks others in street clothes, overhead telephone lines a dead giveaway to a different American era.
“I was lucky. I got to work with him all those years at Turf Paradise,” said Shawn, who was with his grandfather some 16 years or so up until his death three years ago.
Coady is unable to point to anything specific his grandfather told him about picture-taking, but it is very likely nothing needed to be said. Shawn was taking winner’s circle pictures by the time he was 16 and likely learned much of the craft, outside of classes he took, by osmosis, spending as much time as he did with a master craftsman.
For several years Coady handled the photography at Turf Paradise during the eight-month autumn-winter meet there and then headed to Yavapai Down in Prescott, a meet corresponding roughly to the one in Shakopee.
With Yavapai closed, he had a summer opening on the calendar and didn’t take long to make the decision to head north after being contacted by Canterbury Park.
“I had never been here before,” he said. “I had never even been to Minnesota.”
But several riders and trainers in Phoenix had.
“I talked to Scott Stevens, the Raricks (Red and Wade). I knew Doug Oliver had been here.”
He made the decision to head north within a couple of days. Originally, Virginia was on his calendar.
His opinion, now that he’s here?
“As far as the people, the management, the horsemen probably one of the best tracks I’ve been at,” he said.
That covers some territory.
For Shawn and the rest of the Coadys, the nation’s tracks are their studio.
Jeff, who is mostly at Oaklawn, is now at Colonial Park. Jack, jr., is at Prairie Meadows. Kurtis is at Calder. Kevin is on call to assist with undertakings of any kind at most racetracks.
Take a look at some of Shawn’s work on-line (www.coadyphotography.com). Some day, perhaps future children or grandchildren will hang copies of it in their offices.
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.