OLIVER WANTS TO RIDE AWAY QUIETLY

BY JIM WELLS

Sometime in the coming days, perhaps next week, maybe not until closing day, he will decide.  The date might not be determined until it’s clear there are no more races to fit his horses, the three still in the barn.

Hall of Fame trainer Doug Oliver, a fixture at every Canterbury Downs/Park meet since the track opened in 1985 — even the Minnesota-bred races conducted at Arlington National Park and AkSarBen when the Shakopee facility was closed —  will pack his tack and truck one last time in next few days.

He has made his last trip from Turf Paradise in Phoenix to Shakopee for Canterbury’s spring/summer meet.  He loves Minnesota and everything about the racing here, but it has come time to call it quits.

It has become too far and too expensive to ship horses 1,700 miles each spring without getting a commensurate share of purse money to pay the bills. He is not giving up the game altogether, just the Minnesota end of it. He will continue to run some horses in Phoenix, but his days as a trainer in Shakopee are counting down. Basically, he’s playing it by ear, could be next couple of days, or a week or more.

The years have evaporated like dew in the rising sun. Owners and their horses have come and gone. He has had very good years, good years and some easily left behind.

Some of those names were on the tip of his tongue and required no thought whatsoever. He was the leading trainer in Shakopee three times and conditioned two horses, Thasusintheolbean and Bleu Victoriate, both Canterbury horses of the year.

There were others of nearly equal stature, Honor the Hero and Valid Leader. “Our best one lately is Speed Is Life,” he added. “A nice horse.”

A native of Norwood, Colo., Oliver got his trainer’s license in the 1960s in his home state. He had grown up in the Colorado mountains, riding quarter horses for his father, Stanley.

His plans on race riding lasted a short while, only until it became clear he was not destined to remain small enough to ride. He shifted ambitions and began assisting his father with the training. The Olivers were racing primarily then at Centennial Race Track in Denver. “We’d go to California to buy our horses,” Oliver recalled.

One of those horses stood out, a filly named Cherry River, fourth fastest in the nation in 1970. The horse was the champion sprinter in California for several years, won several stakes and was fourth on the experimental list one season. She carried 128 pounds, more than any previous horse, at the Governor’s Handicap in Pomona one year. Cherry River won 33 of 96 starts and earned more than $500,000, a tidy sum at the time.

Oliver won three consecutive training titles, from 1999 through 2001, with Thatsusintheolbean Horse of the Year that first year and Bleu Victoriate the next.

But he won’t be back again. “We love it up here,” he said of himself and his son, Brian. “We love the racing, but it gets to the point where it doesn’t make sense if you don’t do well. And I like winning races.”

Oliver has basically spent autumn and winter in Phoenix and spring and summer in Shakopee every season since 1985. He has started 37 horses in Shakopee this summer, producing two winners, five seconds and five thirds. His horses have earned $84,000.

“I think it’s tougher here now with the bigger purses,” he said. “The top end horses are a lot better.”

His future summers might include trips with Brian hither and yon in a motor home. Expect even to see him in Shakopee at some future date.

But he doesn’t want anyone making a big deal of his departure, no fanfare, no sendoffs,  just wants to depart quietly.

“I just want to ride off into the sunset,” he said. “Like in the old cowboy movies. That’s what I’d like.”

Doug Oliver with Jim Wells in early days of Canterbury Park.

Doug Oliver – Hall of Fame trainer has been here from the beginning

Doug Oliver 9-2-16

By Megan Johnson

Canterbury Hall of Famer Doug Oliver has been involved in the racing industry for a majority of his life and has been a thoroughbred trainer at Canterbury more than 20 years. He has earned champion training titles at Turf Paradise in Phoenix and was the leader at Canterbury Park from 1999 to 2001.

Doug began his training career in Colorado where his father and he trained a couple horses on the weekends. After training for a couple of years he was drafted and was in the service for two years, one of those years being in Vietnam as a vet tech. “When I came home from Vietnam I picked up training horses again,” he said.

When Doug and his father trained together they split up their horses and Doug went to California and Arizona while his father stayed in Colorado. During this time he raced at Del Mar, Hollywood Park, Turf Paradise, and county fairground meets. In 1985, Doug decided to come to Canterbury and he has been here during the summers ever since.

With almost 9,000 career starts, Doug has earned his clients more than 1,300 wins and $13,800,000 in earnings. One of Doug’s most successful horses, Honor The Hero, was a multiple graded stakes winner and a Breeders’ Cup Sprint participant. Honor The Hero also has a stakes race at Canterbury that is named after him. This year he had about 11 horses in training in his barn including Twooliversandatwist, Irish Beauty and stakes winner Speed Is Life.

“In the 70’s my dad and I owned all of our horses together and we wound up getting a really good horse,” he explained. “Cherry River was the name of the horse and he was the fourth fastest horse in the nation at the time and won over $300,000 in purses. He’s the horse that I recall having a lot of fun with in my earlier training days.”

Realizing that something will most likely go wrong with a horse is one of the biggest lessons Doug has learned while training over the years. “I don’t care how many things you have seen in this industry, there’s going to be something that you haven’t seen happen before,” he said. “I’m not sure why but that just seems to be how it is.”

Like many people in the racing industry, Doug has had a hard time when it comes to retiring from training. “I get another good horse and you double think about really wanting to leave, but if I wasn’t training I would want to be in Colorado up on a mountain with my friend who has cattle up there,” he said. When Doug isn’t at Canterbury during the summers he spends his time with his family and resides at his home in Phoenix where he trains.

Canterbury Connections – October 18-19

Crowd Shot 6-16-13_2Friday, October 18: Canterbury Connections

Hawthorne – Race 8 – Princess Dinah – We only saw one race out of this filly in Minnesota, but her first career start was a doozy for Clay Brinson. She beat a highly-regarded (and heavily bet) Mac Robertson firster named Where’s Alayna after breaking slowly from her rail draw. She wasn’t threatening any track records with the final time, but it was the way she did it that catches the eye. Israel Hernandez, the pilot aboard that day returns in the saddle in Chicago for try number two. The favorite, Maria Maria, does exit the Grade 1 Alcibiades but she only beat two horses home that day in a race that came back too weak to be true in the figure department.

Jimmy DiVito is off to an outstanding start at the fall meet as well, equating to even money or lower on the favorite. Her maiden breaker was a four horse affair; even though two that followed her to the wire won next out, six furlongs may not be her absolute cup of tea. Princess will be a decent price and with her passing ability already confirmed improvement is the next requirement. Her morning works are already a bit better than those leading up to her first start, and she looked green as grass down the stretch despite drawing off.

Lone Star – Race 5 – Sooner Country Babe – How could I not jump at the chance to catch Stacy Charette-Hill at 8-1?! She obviously had her share of issues at two but has grown into a very nice filly in her three year old campaign for Canterbury’s runaway leading quarter horse trainer. She is maybe a little distance challenged but we’ve seen this barn win with horses stretching their limits before. She is SO fleet of foot out of the gate that shorter distances have been no problem, but the extra forty yards will be very telling with this one. She unloaded TOO nice of a race in her trial for the Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Derby Challenge, setting a track record for 400 yards while beating the winner of the final. Still, the price should be there with the horse just to her inside present.

Meadowlands – Race 5 – Stoupinator – This year’s Northbound Pride winner tries stakes company again after a third place finish in at a mile at Delaware. She drew the far outside post but her stalking speed should get her in the thick of things throughout. There is plenty of blazing pace for her to chase and the cutback should have a little extra air in her lungs when the running starts. Traffic has been one of her enemies all year long, and from the outside that should at least be avoidable.

Jose Ferrer & Mac Robertson have been a solid combo in the last five years, winning with 9 of their 33 charges together and hitting the board with over half of them. To be even more exact with that potency, they’ve only put five turf sprinters on the track and only one missed the board… that horse is 0-6 on the grass. Mac just doesn’t send them to the Meadowlands if they don’t have a big shot… and despite the classy lineup to her inside she definitely has one.

 

Saturday, October 19: Canterbury Connections

Turf Paradise – Race 7/Race 8 – ATBA Fall Sales Stakes – Saturday’s late double has combatants from Canterbury in both legs, with Dan McFarlane’s Deadly Black Eagle the lukewarm favorite in the boys division (race 8). In the first half though, recent victress My Fine Lady sits at a fair 3-1 morning line. The favorite in this one won the co-ed spring version of this race at five furlongs in May, but has not entered the starting gate since. Molly Pearson obviously has a talented filly on her hands but with the seasoning in the corner of Doug Oliver’s filly, she stands a very good chance to upset the favorite. The rail draw fits this one perfectly as well, with the strategy very apparent in her past performances. She takes them as far as she can as fast as she can, and now hot-riding Scott Stevens (nearly 30% at this juncture in the meet) will take the call. She can’t string them along for a very long distance, but six furlongs hopefully isn’t too much to ask.

The colts & geldings finish the card up with their turn at the sale stakes. The two qualifying races for this final were pretty straightforward and the winners are the favorites as a result. Deadly Black Eagle is slightly favored though, and deservedly so off his effort in said race. Though the time came back slower, his professional effort was one in a long string, unlike most of his inexperienced competition. His stablemate, Southern Chatter, was a speedy maiden winner up here as well and didn’t run an awful race in defeat behind DBE. He appeared to be making a move on that one around the turn and flattened out in the stretch, somewhat in similar fashion to his first start where he ran second to Tiz Happens. He has some greenness issues to work out but both young ones have ability and McFarlane knows what to do with a good two year old. The price will be a lot better on one that the other…

Remington Park – Race 1 – Waronthehomefront/Oughterson – An uncoupled attack from the Mike Biehler barn shows up for the lid lifter at Remington, and both are at appealing prices. Waronthehomefront, in particular, is set at 8-1 in a relatively paceless field. He was one of the more popular claims this summer but shows up in a nice spot at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. He was only a length behind wire-to-wire winner Nic a Jack at 1 3/8 miles, so the distance shouldn’t be a problem. If all entered hold to form he really shouldn’t have any company up front. Alex Birzer is named to ride, and as of Thursday was riding a 7/24 streak. He seems to be one of those that has a little extra when he inherits a lonely lead. Oughterson is no slouch, but is a bit lighter on the win end when it comes to grass. He’s won the majority of his races on dirt but would be just as happy to see this race come off as stay on the turf. He won’t be too far behind and should be the one to get the first crack at his stablemate in the stretch. There are some game old closers lined up including Canterbury regular Little Wagon, but with so many runners dependent on pace it could end up being a rather slowly run first race with the Ulwellings posing for pictures.

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela just completed her third year as Canterbury Park’s Analyst.

Canterbury Connections – October 18-19

Crowd Shot 6-16-13_2Friday, October 18: Canterbury Connections

Hawthorne – Race 8 – Princess Dinah – We only saw one race out of this filly in Minnesota, but her first career start was a doozy for Clay Brinson. She beat a highly-regarded (and heavily bet) Mac Robertson firster named Where’s Alayna after breaking slowly from her rail draw. She wasn’t threatening any track records with the final time, but it was the way she did it that catches the eye. Israel Hernandez, the pilot aboard that day returns in the saddle in Chicago for try number two. The favorite, Maria Maria, does exit the Grade 1 Alcibiades but she only beat two horses home that day in a race that came back too weak to be true in the figure department.

Jimmy DiVito is off to an outstanding start at the fall meet as well, equating to even money or lower on the favorite. Her maiden breaker was a four horse affair; even though two that followed her to the wire won next out, six furlongs may not be her absolute cup of tea. Princess will be a decent price and with her passing ability already confirmed improvement is the next requirement. Her morning works are already a bit better than those leading up to her first start, and she looked green as grass down the stretch despite drawing off.

Lone Star – Race 5 – Sooner Country Babe – How could I not jump at the chance to catch Stacy Charette-Hill at 8-1?! She obviously had her share of issues at two but has grown into a very nice filly in her three year old campaign for Canterbury’s runaway leading quarter horse trainer. She is maybe a little distance challenged but we’ve seen this barn win with horses stretching their limits before. She is SO fleet of foot out of the gate that shorter distances have been no problem, but the extra forty yards will be very telling with this one. She unloaded TOO nice of a race in her trial for the Grade 3 Prairie Meadows Derby Challenge, setting a track record for 400 yards while beating the winner of the final. Still, the price should be there with the horse just to her inside present.

Meadowlands – Race 5 – Stoupinator – This year’s Northbound Pride winner tries stakes company again after a third place finish in at a mile at Delaware. She drew the far outside post but her stalking speed should get her in the thick of things throughout. There is plenty of blazing pace for her to chase and the cutback should have a little extra air in her lungs when the running starts. Traffic has been one of her enemies all year long, and from the outside that should at least be avoidable.

Jose Ferrer & Mac Robertson have been a solid combo in the last five years, winning with 9 of their 33 charges together and hitting the board with over half of them. To be even more exact with that potency, they’ve only put five turf sprinters on the track and only one missed the board… that horse is 0-6 on the grass. Mac just doesn’t send them to the Meadowlands if they don’t have a big shot… and despite the classy lineup to her inside she definitely has one.

 

Saturday, October 19: Canterbury Connections

Turf Paradise – Race 7/Race 8 – ATBA Fall Sales Stakes – Saturday’s late double has combatants from Canterbury in both legs, with Dan McFarlane’s Deadly Black Eagle the lukewarm favorite in the boys division (race 8). In the first half though, recent victress My Fine Lady sits at a fair 3-1 morning line. The favorite in this one won the co-ed spring version of this race at five furlongs in May, but has not entered the starting gate since. Molly Pearson obviously has a talented filly on her hands but with the seasoning in the corner of Doug Oliver’s filly, she stands a very good chance to upset the favorite. The rail draw fits this one perfectly as well, with the strategy very apparent in her past performances. She takes them as far as she can as fast as she can, and now hot-riding Scott Stevens (nearly 30% at this juncture in the meet) will take the call. She can’t string them along for a very long distance, but six furlongs hopefully isn’t too much to ask.

The colts & geldings finish the card up with their turn at the sale stakes. The two qualifying races for this final were pretty straightforward and the winners are the favorites as a result. Deadly Black Eagle is slightly favored though, and deservedly so off his effort in said race. Though the time came back slower, his professional effort was one in a long string, unlike most of his inexperienced competition. His stablemate, Southern Chatter, was a speedy maiden winner up here as well and didn’t run an awful race in defeat behind DBE. He appeared to be making a move on that one around the turn and flattened out in the stretch, somewhat in similar fashion to his first start where he ran second to Tiz Happens. He has some greenness issues to work out but both young ones have ability and McFarlane knows what to do with a good two year old. The price will be a lot better on one that the other…

Remington Park – Race 1 – Waronthehomefront/Oughterson – An uncoupled attack from the Mike Biehler barn shows up for the lid lifter at Remington, and both are at appealing prices. Waronthehomefront, in particular, is set at 8-1 in a relatively paceless field. He was one of the more popular claims this summer but shows up in a nice spot at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. He was only a length behind wire-to-wire winner Nic a Jack at 1 3/8 miles, so the distance shouldn’t be a problem. If all entered hold to form he really shouldn’t have any company up front. Alex Birzer is named to ride, and as of Thursday was riding a 7/24 streak. He seems to be one of those that has a little extra when he inherits a lonely lead. Oughterson is no slouch, but is a bit lighter on the win end when it comes to grass. He’s won the majority of his races on dirt but would be just as happy to see this race come off as stay on the turf. He won’t be too far behind and should be the one to get the first crack at his stablemate in the stretch. There are some game old closers lined up including Canterbury regular Little Wagon, but with so many runners dependent on pace it could end up being a rather slowly run first race with the Ulwellings posing for pictures.

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela just completed her third year as Canterbury Park’s Analyst.

A Little Shipping Money

Sharp%20Richard%20-%20%2008-30-13%20-%20R02%20-%20CBY%20-%20FinishNothing signals the end of the summer any more definitively than the final days of the Minnesota State Fair and the sight of school buses not seen for the previous three months.

Minnesotans are prepared for both eventualities in the coming days and will adjust their calendars and daily schedules accordingly.

There is a different barometer people look to at the racetrack, and the signs are becoming evident now as the meet at Canterbury Park winds down.

Trainers begin cleaning out their barns in the hope of picking up some last minute cash to finance the trip home, in some cases an expensive proposition if the destination is, say, Phoenix or someplace even more distant.

In the case of trainer Doug Oliver, Phoenix is in fact the destination when the meet at Canterbury Park concludes on Sept. 14.

So, Oliver saddled up a four different runners for Friday night’s card with different results.

He sent out Depeche in race one but the 5-year-old mare failed to hit the board. So much for that one.

There were quite different results in race two with a 3-year-old gelding named Sharp Richard (pictured above), who hit the wire first at 7-1.

Oliver divided his attention between Eurasian and Our Family Affair in race six. He not only trains both horses but also owns them.

Our Family Affair picked up the second half of the trip back to Phoenix in that race, with Marcus Swiontek up, running down front-running Appeals the Deal in the final 30 yards.

“I’ve done better this week than I’ve done all summer,” Oliver remarked.

Indeed.

In a single night he doubled his wins for the meet.

A guy never knows what he’ll uncover when he starts cleaning out the basement, garage or, in this case, the barn.

FRIDAY MUSINGS

Alex Canchari turned what appeared to be a runaway for the riding title into a two-man race with a remarkable performance on Thursday’s card, riding five of eight winners.

That cut Dean Butler’s lead to seven, and the battle between the two riders continued on Friday’s card.

Butler jumped back in front by eight in race two, winning on Sharp Richard. Canchari responded in race three, winning aboard Threefiftysevenmag.

Tit for tat.

Butler went back up by eight riding the winner of race seven, Great River Skier.

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 Slight Canadian Detour

Jake%20Barton%208-16-13The last time Jake Barton spent any time in Shakopee, the racetrack was called Canterbury Downs and he was called every other hour by an agent in Canada who wanted him there.

Long story short. Barton left Shakopee for a weekend trip to Assiniboia Downs, wound up falling in love, getting married and now, 24 years later, is back in Shakopee.

The story began unfolding in 1989. Barton spent 1 ½ months in Shakopee riding for Doug Oliver among others. He couldn’t seem to shake an agent named Roger Oleksiw, encouraged to call the rider by the owners of Assiniboia Downs, who knew Barton from trips to Turf Paradise in Phoenix.

“He’d call me at 1 a.m., 2 a.m., constantly. Basically, I went up there to get the guy off my back,” Barton recalled with a chuckle. Barton met the agent’s daughter, Cheryl, the day he arrived, dated her the next day and wound up marrying her a year later. And the guy he wanted off his back became his father-in-law.

Barton In the meantime had to do some shopping after leaving Canterbury in 1989. He brought only enough clothes for the weekend.

In the last two decades, Barton has raced throughout Canada and the Southwest, settling at Prairie Meadows for recent summers after the Phoenix meet.

He decided to try Canterbury Park after the purses were increased through the partnership with the Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Mystic Lake.

“It fits better with the meet in Phoenix, too,” he said.

For the record, Barton did return to Canterbury two years ago to ride in a stake race.

He displays two of his life’s loves on his shoulders – the Browning logo tattooed on one, his wife’s name on the other.

People who know him say he disappears immediately whenever he’s done riding for the day at Turf Paradise. “Yeah, if I don’t ride the last race I can still get in an hour of hunting when I get home,” he said.

His residence in Surprise is near a patch of state land that offers ample opportunity for bird hunting, quail and dove.

“Every chance I get,” he said.

His weapon of choice is a Browning 12-guage, and it has been useful in various ways over the years.

“I always wear snake boots when I’m out,” he explained. “I’ve stepped on rattlers more than once.”

On one occasion, traipsing through desert shrubs and grass the barrel head of his Browning came in direct contact with a rattler. “That snake was about 6 ½ feet long,” he said. “He was traveling through the grass so he wasn’t coiled and couldn’t strike.”

Nonetheless, the Browning was put into service on the spot.

The Bartons have two children, Jessica who is on a full ride soccer scholarship at Grand Canyon University, and Justin, a senior at Willow Canyon High School in Surprise.

There is one other love that Jake and Cheryl share – dancing. Two-step, swing, you name it. “I can hunt in the daylight and dance when it gets dark,” Jake said.

As Barton carried on a conversation Friday night, young Alex Canchari, hoping to overtake Dean Butler for the riding title this summer, stopped momentarily to discuss a race with the veteran rider.

Barton has won titles in the past in Canada but such pursuits are not part of his goals at age 46. “I’m more of a money rider now,” he said.

Making a living.

The purses at Prairie Meadows provided that opportunity, yet there is another factor today not present during Barton’s trip to Canterbury Downs in 1989.

“This just fits better,” he said. “You only have to move once if you come here after the Phoenix meet,” he said. “And then you go back when Canterbury is done.”

Shakopee in the summer. Phoenix all winter.

Hard to beat.

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.

Guldemann: A Founding Father

Mike Guldemann0001Mike Guldemann was a person many people recognized but few really knew…”Oh,’ yeah, Mike, sure. Saw him all the time.”

He was an unimposing fixture at Canterbury Downs and then Canterbury Park, seldom seen on the frontside but ubiquitously present in the barns and racing office, often with a string of watches on one forearm, ready to show anyone in need of a new timepiece. “I’ve still got one, a Gruen, I bought from him a few years ago,” said trainer Doug Oliver. “I”ve had to replace several bands on it, but the watch is fine, a really good one.”

People saw Guldemann all the time, this knowledgeable horseman who was part of Minnesota horseracing since the 1960s and involved in the game way before that.

“You saw him around the track all the time. He was there when they opened the place,” said HBPA president Tom Metzen. “I remember he was around when we ran horses at the county fairs, out at Lake Elmo. He had a couple of horses with Dave Sorum at one time. He was nice to everyone. A very nice person.”

Guldemann, who would have turned 95 on May 1 was still driving to the stable-area at Canterbury on a daily basis during the meet last summer when he took on a new part-time line of work, selling bridles or colorful lead ropes, any kind of tack a person desired. “Hard to believe he was that old. He was sharp as a tack,” said Oliver.

For many years he sat in in the dining room of the track kitchen with an open briefcase in front of him, watches, pocket knives and other paraphernalia on display, but Guldemann’s true love was racing, horses in particular.

“He tried to get us into a racing partnership several years ago,” said Canterbury Hall of Fame owner/breeder Gretchen Eaton. “He was a very nice person, very knowledgeable about horses.”

Guldemann died on January 18 at St. Joseph’s Hospital after suffering a stroke. Track chaplain Ed Underwood will lead a memorial for him in the stable chapel at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

Guldemann bred and trained racehorses from 1951 to 1965 in Minot, N.D., and was a key participant in the drive to bring parimutuel racing to North Dakota. He was one of the founders of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association and its first president, on an interim basis, while bylaws were being written in 1970. Five years later, living in Hampton with 40 broodmares, he won the Minnesota Thoroughbred Breeders Award for Hut Sut Ralston, by Guldemann’s stallion Vapor Whirl. For the next 10 years, Guldemann lived in Mount Vernon, Illinois, on a farm with 27 broodmares, returning to Minnesota when Canterbury Downs arrived in 1985.

“He sat in my tackroom every morning talking about racing,” said trainer Tom McFadden

“He was a nice old fellow, a nice person. I’m going to miss him.”

Guldemann didn’t simply sit there. He had purchased a mare in foal that Harvey Harrison bought from him. They named the foal Hoodwinked Holly after the woman whose Shakopee family took Guldemann in the last couple of years. “I lived closer to Canterbury than he did,” said Holly Bungert. “He kept his apartment in Prior Lake and he’d go there to write letters to the Thoroughbred Times and take care of his business matters, but it was easier for him to get to the track from my place, and cheaper, too, when gas prices were so high.”

Holly’s two daughters, Rachel and Beth, worked in the stables at Canterbury when they first met Guldemann and quickly began referring to him as “grandpa.” Beth is now an assistant trainer to Mike Lauer at Churchill Downs. Rachel is barn foreman for Mac Robertson at Delaware Park. Guldemann simply became “grandpa” to the entire family, including Holly and her husband, Lowell.

“My kids adopted him,” said Holly. “And he’s been a part of our lives ever since. At first he’d stay over on weekends. Then it was another day and then another.”

Guldemann has a daughter, Melissa, and a granddaughter, Mariah, of Glencoe. He was born on May 1, 1918 in Bowman, N.D.

Guldemann frequently communicated with the Thoroughbred Times, which printed this poem by him in 2009:

THE OLD RACEHORSE

The old gray horse looks over the fence
In a weary sort of way
He seems to be saying to all who pass
Well, folks, I’ve had my day

I’m simply watching the world go by
And nobody seems to mind
As they go dashing by in swift cars
An old gray horse who is twice lame and half blind

The old racehorse has a shaggy coat
But once was young, fit and trim
And he used to work on the racetrack
With a jockey who was fond of him

His owner drives by in his super-charged car
And it makes him feel quite sad
When he thinks of the days that used to be
and the stakes wins that they had

Sometimes a friendly soul will stop
Near the fence where the tired old head
Rests wearily on the topmost bar
And a friendly word is said

Then the old racehorse gives a sigh
And he feels the kindly touch
Of a hand on his mane or shaggy coat
and doesn’t mind so much 

So if you pass by the field one day
Just stop for a word or two
Where the old racehorse
Who once was young and full of life as you 

He will love the touch of your hand
And i know he will seem to say
Thank you, friend, for the kindly thought
For a stakes horse who has had his day.

Mike G 50001

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 Turf Chute Makes Its Debut

Not many in the sizable crowd of over 7,000 Thursday realized they were witnessing a small bit of Canterbury Park history, a footnote perhaps to much more that has happened since racing debuted in 1985, yet something to remember nonetheless.

No one said one day they will bounce a grandchild on a knee and recall the day chute racing returned to Canterbury. No one wept when the winner of the first race out of the chute entered the winner’s circle.

Just the same, the racing season is drawing to a close and historic occasions are becoming fewer to document.

A few people of the jockey persuasion did complain about the sharpness of the turn onto the course when a race lines up in the chute.

To which identifier Mark Bader had this opinion: “Gripe about a turn,” he said. “We used to race places where a telephone pole marked the outside fence and barbed wire was the inside rail and both were something to avoid.”

The Canterbury chute was abandoned sometime in the late 1990s when concerts were a frequent affair in the infield. Others claim it was abandoned after numerous complaints from riders who didn’t, ahem!, like the sharpness of the turn onto the main course.

Whatever the case, chute racing made its triumphant return in races two and three on Thursday, both races at about a mile, the first for maiden fillies and mares and the second an allowance tiff for the same gender.

The winner of the first race was a 3-year-old filly by Sir Shackleton named Tightrope Dancer, ridden by Denny Velazquez, trained and owned by Gary Scherer.

“She’s a chute horse. She loves the chute,” Scherer cracked as his horse arrived for the winning photo.

Moments later, he congratulated Velazquez as he headed back toward the jockeys’ room. “Hey, congratulations on your first turf win here in the first chute race in years,” he said.

“I’m just glad to win it,” said Velazquez, whose mount broke from the No. 8 hole. The potential exists for horses in the outside positions to get shuffled to the back of the pack. “It didn’t really matter,” Velazquez said regarding his post position.

Britta Giller, who works in Scherer’s stable and hot-walks the winning filly was convinced the horse would win Thursday morning. “She was getting a bath and I asked her if she would win tonight,” Giller said. “She began shaking her head up and down as if to say ‘yes’. I told Gary that she was going to win tonight.”

Where are these tips when we need them, right!

The return of chute racing at Canterbury has this concern for three-time defending riding champ Dean Butler: The manner in which the horses approach the gate from the infield, which is wide open.

“I can guarantee you that a horse will get loose sometime and end up in one of the ponds unless that is changed,” he said, which is what happened maybe three years ago at Tampa Bay Downs, where Butler rides during the winter.

The winner of race three was Stillwater Storm, trained by Doug Oliver and ridden by Juan Rivera. Stillwater Storm broke from the No. 2 hole. “The turn (onto the main track) is way too sharp,” said Rivera. “But I’m happy for the win.”

Tanner Riggs rode Dear Fay, a 7-2 choice that finished out of the money.

Using the chute didn’t present much of a change for him. “It was a little different,” he said. “But my horse handled the turn just fine. I just wish he would have run a little better.”

Others wish the weather had turned out a little more kindly. With reports of bad weather and lightning beginning to strike throughout the area, the card was cancelled after the fourth race, just after Scott Stevens brought in a horse named Royal Express for his 27th win of the meet, keeping him and Lori Keith, who won Thursday’s card opener on Sultry Queen, tied for fourth place in the standings. Derek Bell is in third with 31 wins. Butler and Riggs are tied for the lead with 59 wins each.

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

It’s Official

The skies were leaden most of the day and into the evening, giving way from time to time to a thunderstorm that drenched the racetrack and reduced attendance on the first Thursday night racing of the meet.

Dollar night, as some patrons call it, produced a lot of leftovers, or as press box impresario Jeff Maday sized it up: “We’ll be eating hot-dog casseroles for the next week.”

The skies were not the only leaden feature of the day. The footing on the racetrack was, too. The racing started with sloppy going that gradually turned to muddy.

The one thing impossible to dampen on this day was the spirit of the horsemen, who were buoyant from start to finish, win or run second in some instances. There is always another day in such cases, something that was uncertain until the deal with Mystic Lake.

There was a real bounce to their steps on Thursday, one day after the Minnesota Racing Commission voted 5-3 to approve a marketing partnership with Mystic Lake that will pump $75 million into purses at Canterbury Park over the next 10 years, including $2.6 million this season.

Jeff Hilger, who spearheaded a horsemen’s Racino drive at the legislature that eventually led to the Mystic Lake agreement, watched with his wife, Deb, as their 3-year-old Quote To Cash broke his maiden in commanding fashion under Tanner Riggs.

“This is a good day, too,” said Deb. The other, of course, was Wednesday and the Racing Commission approval.

The purse increases are retroactive to the first day of the meet, but Thursday’s program included official recognition of those payments for the first time.

Quote To Cash, for example, was running for a winner’s share of a $17,920 purse, which included $4,000 from the agreement, referred to in the race program as the “Mystic Lake Purse Enhancement Fund.”

“This makes it almost worthwhile,” Jeff Hilger said, grinning.

Hilger spent the first 15 minutes after the race answering calls on his cell phone, several of them congratulatory wishes. One of the calls came from trainer Mac Robertson who had assured Hilger of a win.

Bobble Doit won the fourth race on the card, a 5 ½ furlong event for maidens that included an additional $5,500 from the Mystic Lake fund. That produced knowing smiles from trainer Bernell Rhone and the winning rider, his son-in-law, Dean Butler.

Trainer Doug Oliver, in semi-retirement, was offered a look at the purse enhancement on a race and shook his head in amazement. Does the agreement have him second-guessing a bit?

“I’m not sure what to do,” he said, clearly enticed by the windfall that will breathe new life into the Minnesota horse industry.

The winner of the seventh race was a four-year-old filly, Mighty Tizzy, trained by Miguel Angel Silva. That race was enhanced by $3,000.

“Beautiful, beautiful,” Silva said, smiling. “I’m just waiting for it (the win) to become official.”

Well, the agreement now is, and so, too, was Silva’s win moments later.

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.