13,011 Enjoy Wiener Dogs

Weiner%20Dog%20Day8%209-2-13On a day when Minnesotans were still coming to terms with the loss of Justin Morneau, news came about the death of former heavyweight champion Tommy Morrison, that Diana Nyad had at long last accomplished her life-long dream, and that Oscar would indeed defend his title.

Oscar?

Call him by his appropriate appellation, Dachshund, or by the folksier designation, Wiener Dog, it doesn’t seem to matter to Oscar or others of his ilk.

They come to Canterbury Park each year to race, and the crowds follow them like groupies do a rock band, annually giving the racetrack one of its largest crowds of the season.

Oscar was simply unbeaten and the defending champ in the Wiener Wars, having won five titles and two in a row.

Alas, on any given Labor Day afternoon…

Duke carried the day. Only fourteen months old, Duke trained in the backyard of his home in Vadnais Heights. Owned by the Wrona family – Sonya, Mike, Michael and Nicole – Duke got a great break from the gate and finished a length in front of the defending champion. Oscar dwelt in the gate but managed to overtake every other starter in the field except for the winner.

“He’ll be back. He’s not finished at all,” said owner Chrissy Bitterman.

As for Duke, he trained primarily by running in the Wrona’s backyard for food rewards.

His victory reward was something he had never had before. “He’s going to get a tiny piece of hotdog,” said Sonya.

Will he defend his title next summer?

“Probably, if we’re not at the lake,” said Michael.

Six heats throughout the card on Sunday determined the 12 qualifiers for the championship race which was held after the seventh horse race of the day.

Aspen, owned by Jake and Justine Launert of St. Louis Park, qualified first in the third heat. Aspen’s training diet consisted of bacon and cheese stuffed burgers. He trained with the boxer next door.

Justine knew exactly what to expect in the final, or at least thought she did. Oscar was indeed the dog to beat in her view.

Bikini was the second qualifier from the same heat and is owned by Ashley Lembke of Northfield. His training regimen? Well, he’ll clean the cat box out if Ashley doesn’t stop him first. But he also sits on a miniature pony while his owner leads him around.

Then, of course, there was Charlie Brown, a qualifier from heat No. 2. Charlie is owned by Dustin and Crystal Brown and beefs up on bologna twice a day, at 9 a.m. and again at 9 p.m. He was in the finals last year.

Frank, owned by Jessie Bentz of Eden Prairie, qualified first out of heat 5. Frank’s idiosyncrasies? He likes to chase squirrels and doesn’t care for the Fedex or the UPS men. He also came out of retirement for one last shot after running in 2006 and 2007.

Kirby was the first qualifier out of heat 6. Owned by Christina Ingracia and Ryan Timboe of Minnetonka. He likes to chase frisbees and hoped to give Oscar a run for his money. Other qualifiers included Philly, owned by Mike Linnemann and Emily Gage, and Bosco, owned by Brittany and Jon Voigt.

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.

11,000+ Enjoy Rescheduled July 4th Festivities

Who was your favorite winner over the weekend: Serena Williams, the Bulls at Pamplona, Oscar the wiener dog, Lori Keith, Soonerette, Huckleberry Mojito or the hot dog champ?

They all deserve a tip of the cap, but Soonerette and Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above) were truly the stars of Saturday’s card in Shakopee.

There were 11,337 fans on hand who might have ideas of their own, but most of them would surely agree with the two equine stars.

Soonerette, the 3-year-old filly out of the Donnie Von Hemel barn shipped in from Arlington Park and stole the early show under a smart ride from Tanner Riggs in the $75,000 Northbound Pride Stakes.

Then in the $40,650 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby, Nik Goodwin, the leading Q rider on the track, guided Huckleberry Mojito to an easy win, setting a track record of 19.3 in the process.

By that time Keith had already ridden three winners on the card, Williams had long put her Wimbledon trophy in a safe spot, the bulls were resting up for another shot at the Spanish crowd and Oscar was on his way home to Ellsworth, Wis., with his championship booty.

NORTHBOUND PRIDE OAKS

Whenever the money gets better, the horses start arriving and three of them shipped in for the race named after one of Canterbury’s Hall of Fame runners from the past.

There was Banded from Prairie Meadows, Starship Duchess from Arlington Park and Soonerette (above) from the same suburban Chicago site.

The mile race on the turf belonged entirely to Soonerette and Tanner Riggs, who guided the Master Command filly to a gate to wire triumph for her 60 percent cut of the $75,000 prize.

The margin at the wire was two lengths back to Banded, with Starship in third after a perfectly executed ride from Riggs, who got very basic instructions in the paddock from Von Hemel’s assistant.

He was told the put the horse at the lead out of the gate and that’s just what he did.

“They just told me to let her roll,” Riggs said, “and that’s what I did.”

Riggs regarded the win as payback to Von Hemel for favors done over the years. “He gave me horses to ride at Arlington,” Riggs said, “and kind of worked as a mentor to me.”

Von Hemel was not present but Tanner’s uncle and aunt, Roger and Lisa Riggs from near Mitchell, S.D., were. “We like to come up and watch Tanner ride when we can,” Roger said. “He rode a good race today.”

A bystander took a look at the winning horse and remarked. “You wouldn’t have guess that horse would win it. He’s kind of ratty looking.”

Sometimes looks are deceiving and that was certainly the case in this race.

CANTERBURY PARK QUARTER HORSE DERBY

Huckleberry, a three-year-old daughter of Feature Mr. Jess from Eye Opening Special, opened a few eyes and then tried to close some, too.

Under Goodwin, she broke cleanly and charged to the front, finishing easily in front of Painted Lies and Paint Or More.

“I wasn’t think record, but I knew she was traveling pretty fast,” said Goodwin. “She broke straight and I just tried to guide her from there.”

Moments later in the winner’s circle, the winner nearly took out winning trainer Ed Ross Hardy, delivering a kick to his leg. The impact was reduced by Hardy’s proximity to the horse. Had he been a couple of feet further away, it might have leveled him.

The win was the third straight for Huckleberry, who was the fastest qualifier for the Derby in the June 23 trials.

The winner has a historic blood-line connection to Canterbury. Her dam won the Express Handicap twice, the 350 Handicap and the Bob Morehouse, all in Shakopee.

Huckleberry apparently shares one more trait with her mama, who was about as ornery as they come on occasion.

None of that seemed to matter in the winner’s circle on Saturday.

CONTROVERSY DOGS WIENER RACE

There were concerns earlier in the week that Oscar might not be ready for the finals of the 2012 Dachshund Dash, not ready even though he was a prohibitive favorite after qualifying with one of the fastest times ever.

Oscar (in the lead above) suffered a mishap last week and has been on antibiotics the last few days. It seems that he got a little overly excited when his owner Chrissy Bitterman got home from work the other day and she inadvertently stepped on him.

That raised all sorts of concerns prior to Saturday’s championship, postponed from July 4 along with the rest of that card.

Nonetheless, Oscar was a clear winner once again, as he was in the qualifying heat, outrunning nine rivals to win easily, although not without controversy. Oscar shot out of the gate like a rocket and straight to the finish line where Bitterman, of Ellsworth, Wis., awaited him with a treat.

He stopped upon reaching the finish, however, and there was some brief uncertainly whether he had actually crossed the line.

A review determined that, yes, in fact, his nose had broken the plane.

“He always stops like that,” said Bitterman, ”as soon as he gets to me. He’s been trained to do that.”

Upon hearing that Oscar had run on antibiotics, an anti inflammatory drug for his recent injury, there was a minor objection that it had not been reported in the program, as such cases are with the horses.

Another quick review determined that what applies in the horse world is not necessarily a factor in the dog domain.

Bitterman also explained that Oscar’s full name is Oscar Michael, named after her late son. She was not aware of the contest until a friend e-mailed her in June suggesting that she enter Oscar in the contest.

Oscar has been on a bland diet all week along with the medication. Even his treats had to be changed.

A 10-pound, 15-inch 2-year-old, Oscar did his training in a cornfield on property owned by Jan Godden of River Falls, a friend of Bitterman’s.

“He’d run all over that field,” said Bitterman. Well, until the injury, he did.

“I didn’t know if he could run very fast today,” she added

Oscar answered that concern with an affirmative “No problem.”

Afterward there was a treat awaiting him in the winner’s circle. His diet still didn’t allow the usual treats, so Bittmeran prepared something special.

A bit of bacon.

TOP DOG GULPS FIVE DOGS

The rules to the hot-dog eating contest have changed in the last few years, putting some of the top dogs of year’s gone by at a disadvantage.

At one time, the number of hot dogs consumed in a period of time determined the winner. The contestant to consume five hot dogs the fastest has been the winner of recent contests.

That puts a seven-time winner such as Paul Gustafson of Wayzata, affectionately known as Gus D Dawn, at a decided disadvantage. “I guess I’m just getting old,” he lamented after Saturday’s contest, won by Mark Pederson of Little Canada.

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.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Video Credit: Jon Mikkelson & The Canterbury Park Television Department

11,000+ Enjoy Rescheduled July 4th Festivities

Who was your favorite winner over the weekend: Serena Williams, the Bulls at Pamplona, Oscar the wiener dog, Lori Keith, Soonerette, Huckleberry Mojito or the hot dog champ?

They all deserve a tip of the cap, but Soonerette and Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above) were truly the stars of Saturday’s card in Shakopee.

There were 11,337 fans on hand who might have ideas of their own, but most of them would surely agree with the two equine stars.

Soonerette, the 3-year-old filly out of the Donnie Von Hemel barn shipped in from Arlington Park and stole the early show under a smart ride from Tanner Riggs in the $75,000 Northbound Pride Stakes.

Then in the $40,650 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby, Nik Goodwin, the leading Q rider on the track, guided Huckleberry Mojito to an easy win, setting a track record of 19.3 in the process.

By that time Keith had already ridden three winners on the card, Williams had long put her Wimbledon trophy in a safe spot, the bulls were resting up for another shot at the Spanish crowd and Oscar was on his way home to Ellsworth, Wis., with his championship booty.

NORTHBOUND PRIDE OAKS

Whenever the money gets better, the horses start arriving and three of them shipped in for the race named after one of Canterbury’s Hall of Fame runners from the past.

There was Banded from Prairie Meadows, Starship Duchess from Arlington Park and Soonerette (above) from the same suburban Chicago site.

The mile race on the turf belonged entirely to Soonerette and Tanner Riggs, who guided the Master Command filly to a gate to wire triumph for her 60 percent cut of the $75,000 prize.

The margin at the wire was two lengths back to Banded, with Starship in third after a perfectly executed ride from Riggs, who got very basic instructions in the paddock from Von Hemel’s assistant.

He was told the put the horse at the lead out of the gate and that’s just what he did.

“They just told me to let her roll,” Riggs said, “and that’s what I did.”

Riggs regarded the win as payback to Von Hemel for favors done over the years. “He gave me horses to ride at Arlington,” Riggs said, “and kind of worked as a mentor to me.”

Von Hemel was not present but Tanner’s uncle and aunt, Roger and Lisa Riggs from near Mitchell, S.D., were. “We like to come up and watch Tanner ride when we can,” Roger said. “He rode a good race today.”

A bystander took a look at the winning horse and remarked. “You wouldn’t have guess that horse would win it. He’s kind of ratty looking.”

Sometimes looks are deceiving and that was certainly the case in this race.

CANTERBURY PARK QUARTER HORSE DERBY

Huckleberry, a three-year-old daughter of Feature Mr. Jess from Eye Opening Special, opened a few eyes and then tried to close some, too.

Under Goodwin, she broke cleanly and charged to the front, finishing easily in front of Painted Lies and Paint Or More.

“I wasn’t think record, but I knew she was traveling pretty fast,” said Goodwin. “She broke straight and I just tried to guide her from there.”

Moments later in the winner’s circle, the winner nearly took out winning trainer Ed Ross Hardy, delivering a kick to his leg. The impact was reduced by Hardy’s proximity to the horse. Had he been a couple of feet further away, it might have leveled him.

The win was the third straight for Huckleberry, who was the fastest qualifier for the Derby in the June 23 trials.

The winner has a historic blood-line connection to Canterbury. Her dam won the Express Handicap twice, the 350 Handicap and the Bob Morehouse, all in Shakopee.

Huckleberry apparently shares one more trait with her mama, who was about as ornery as they come on occasion.

None of that seemed to matter in the winner’s circle on Saturday.

CONTROVERSY DOGS WIENER RACE

There were concerns earlier in the week that Oscar might not be ready for the finals of the 2012 Dachshund Dash, not ready even though he was a prohibitive favorite after qualifying with one of the fastest times ever.

Oscar (in the lead above) suffered a mishap last week and has been on antibiotics the last few days. It seems that he got a little overly excited when his owner Chrissy Bitterman got home from work the other day and she inadvertently stepped on him.

That raised all sorts of concerns prior to Saturday’s championship, postponed from July 4 along with the rest of that card.

Nonetheless, Oscar was a clear winner once again, as he was in the qualifying heat, outrunning nine rivals to win easily, although not without controversy. Oscar shot out of the gate like a rocket and straight to the finish line where Bitterman, of Ellsworth, Wis., awaited him with a treat.

He stopped upon reaching the finish, however, and there was some brief uncertainly whether he had actually crossed the line.

A review determined that, yes, in fact, his nose had broken the plane.

“He always stops like that,” said Bitterman, ”as soon as he gets to me. He’s been trained to do that.”

Upon hearing that Oscar had run on antibiotics, an anti inflammatory drug for his recent injury, there was a minor objection that it had not been reported in the program, as such cases are with the horses.

Another quick review determined that what applies in the horse world is not necessarily a factor in the dog domain.

Bitterman also explained that Oscar’s full name is Oscar Michael, named after her late son. She was not aware of the contest until a friend e-mailed her in June suggesting that she enter Oscar in the contest.

Oscar has been on a bland diet all week along with the medication. Even his treats had to be changed.

A 10-pound, 15-inch 2-year-old, Oscar did his training in a cornfield on property owned by Jan Godden of River Falls, a friend of Bitterman’s.

“He’d run all over that field,” said Bitterman. Well, until the injury, he did.

“I didn’t know if he could run very fast today,” she added

Oscar answered that concern with an affirmative “No problem.”

Afterward there was a treat awaiting him in the winner’s circle. His diet still didn’t allow the usual treats, so Bittmeran prepared something special.

A bit of bacon.

TOP DOG GULPS FIVE DOGS

The rules to the hot-dog eating contest have changed in the last few years, putting some of the top dogs of year’s gone by at a disadvantage.

At one time, the number of hot dogs consumed in a period of time determined the winner. The contestant to consume five hot dogs the fastest has been the winner of recent contests.

That puts a seven-time winner such as Paul Gustafson of Wayzata, affectionately known as Gus D Dawn, at a decided disadvantage. “I guess I’m just getting old,” he lamented after Saturday’s contest, won by Mark Pederson of Little Canada.

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.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Video Credit: Jon Mikkelson & The Canterbury Park Television Department

Wiener Dog Finalists Set (With Video)

Canterbury Park’s annual wiener dog races are turning into some pretty serious business. This year, five trials had to be conducted to determine who would be able to race in the Wiener Dog finals on July 4. Dogs from all over the metro area competed in trials on Saturday and Sunday with the top two advancing from each heat.

There were two things the owners of Aspen wanted the world to know about their four-year-old when he came off the track after winning his qualifying heat Sunday.

“He’s not for sale,” said Jake Launert.

“He’s a he not a she,” said Justine Launert.

Jake’s comment was made in jest.

Justine’s was a mere correction to a program item that implied Aspen was a she.

The Launerts were competing with Aspen for the first time in Canterbury Park’s annual wiener dog competition. Heat winners advance to the championship round on July 4.

The Launerts acquired Aspen from a Colorado breeder. Hence, the name Aspen. They attribute his success at Canterbury to the training he gets in their St. Louis Park neighborhood.

“He runs with a Boxer in the neighborhood, so he’s pretty fast,” Justine said.

He also does some 50 yard dashes to build stamina.

What works for one dog doesn’t necessarily work for another.

Dagwood, who qualified by finishing second in his heat, trains on “copious amounts of string cheese,” according to his resume. He is owned by Emily Sowieja and her fiancé, Alex Behrendt, both of St. Paul.

Although he does no outdoor training, Dagwood does run the hallway of Sowieja’s apartment after walks, a 50-yard workout.

QUALIFIERS FOR THE JULY 4TH CHAMPIONSHIP:

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Aspen, owned by Jake and Justine Launert
Beans, owned by Tyler and Alyssa Borgemoen
Charlie Brown, owned by Dustin and Crystal Brown
Charlie, owned by Tamra Gillen
Dagwood, owned by Emily Sowieja and Alex Behrendt
Doug, owned by Matt Nourie
Miss Daisy Mae, owned by Lynn and Todd Novitsky
Murphy, owned by Kellie Murphy and Tyler Zarbok
Oscar, owned by Chrissy Bitterman
Roxy Glamour Princess, owned by Kim and Layne Poppovich