Canterbury Park’s Leading Ladies

By Noah Joseph

One of the most inspiring parts of horse racing is inclusiveness. Since the beginning of the 20th century, horse racing has had many prominent female owners, trainers, and breeders. In the 1960s, females were allowed to compete as professional riders. Since the early days of racing in Minnesota, female jockeys have played a very important part in Canterbury’s history.

In the Canterbury Downs days, female jockeys were equal, if not superior, to their male counterparts. Top female jockeys included Vicki Warhol, Kathy Craig, and Patrice Finnegan. In 1988, apprentice Donna Barton burst on to the scene in Shakopee, and became an overnight success en route to becoming one of the top jockeys in the country. People know her now as Donna Brothers, an NBC Sports reporter and analyst who conducts interviews with the jockeys on horseback after Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races.

That same year, Canterbury held a jockey’s challenge featuring female vs male riders. The races were held at different distances and surfaces. The male team featured Dean Kutz, Ronnie Allen Jr., Chris Valovich, and Mike Smith, while the female team featured Donna Barton, Vicki Warhol, and national jockeys Vicky Aragon and Julie Krone. Later that season Julie Krone defeated legendary jockey Bill Shoemaker in a match race (pictured above) at Canterbury known as the “Duel at the Downs.” Krone went on to become the first female jockey to win a Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup race.

In recent years, top female jockeys at Canterbury have included Paula Bacon, Shannon Ritter, Laura Paynter, Jo Black, Lori Keith, Anne Von Rosen, Jennifer Schmidt and Helen Vanek. The female jockeys at Canterbury this season are Lori Keith, Jenna Joubert, Katlin Bedford, Kassie Guglielmino, Janine Smith, Betty Williams, and Nakia Ramirez.

The Grass Is Greener

By Noah Joseph

The month of August is an exciting month for Canterbury. One reason is the Mystic Lake Derby, the featured and richest race of the season. The race is for three year olds going one mile on the turf. Turf racing has been a part of Minnesota racing for several years, so it seemed about time to take a look at the history of turf racing in Minnesota

Turf racing began in Minnesota in 1986; however, the idea of turf racing was already planned when Canterbury opened the previous year. However, there wasn’t enough time to get a turf course ready, so it was introduced a year later.

May 25, 1986 – dedication of the Eilken Turf Course

The first race ever run on the turf was the Lady Canterbury, won by Sauna. Another turf attraction, while only run once, was the Canterbury Turf Classic Handicap, won by Treizieme. Over the years, races on the Canterbury lawn were won by top horses such as John Bullit, Princess Elaine, Balbonella, Tappiano, Capades, and many more.


When Canterbury reopened in 1995, turf racing was just as exciting and competitive as it was before. The return of turf racing in Minnesota saw horses like Honor the Hero and Go Go Jack crush their completion. Jest for a Trucker was named 1996 Canterbury Horse of the Year after several turf victories. 1997 saw K Z Bay upset the Lady Canterbury field on the lawn en route to one the most classic Canterbury moments. Recently, races on the Canterbury turf have been won by top horses such as Hay Dakota, Majestic Pride, One Mean Man, Nun the Less, Long On Value, Tubby Time, Teddy Time, A P Is Loose, and Dear Fay.

Turf racing has been a major force at Canterbury, and it will be for many years to come, proving that sometimes, the grass is greener on the other side.

Duel At The Downs