Three $50,000 Turf Stake Races Saturday at Canterbury Park

Indian Horse Relay Championship also on 5:00 p.m. racing program

Three $50,000 turf stakes, the Minnesota HBPA Distaff, the Brooks Fields Stakes, and the Mystic Lake Turf Sprint, will be co-features on Saturday’s thoroughbred race card that begins at 5:00 p.m. at Canterbury Park. The stakes will be run as races three through five on the nine-race program, which also includes the Indian Horse Relay Championship.

The Turf Sprint, at five furlongs on the grass course, drew a field of eight including 5 to 2 morning line favorite Satellite Storm, trained by Valorie Lund and ridden by Leandro Goncalves. The locally-based 5-year-old found his best form since racing twice, and winning both times, on the turf course this meet. Kentucky shipper Angaston, 7 to 2, will be ridden by Eddie Martin, Jr.

The Brooks Fields, at a distance of one mile on the turf, is headed by Nobrag Justfact for trainer Eric Heitzmann. The 4-year-old colt won the $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile locally before finishing ninth in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap at Arlington Park in suburban Chicago. Martin, Jr. has the mount.  The race is named in honor of the late Brooks Fields, CEO of the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack when it originally opened in 1985.

Seven entered the Minnesota HBPA Distaff, at one mile on the turf, including defending champion Molecules, trained by Brian House and ridden by Martin, Jr. Also in the field is 5 to 2 morning line favorite Beach Flower, winner of the $100,000 Lady Canterbury on June 22. She is trained by Hall of Famer Mac Robertson and will be ridden by Dean Butler. A $25,000 guaranteed Pick Four pool that includes the three stakes races, will begin with the second race.

Indian Horse Relay, North America’s first ‘extreme’ sport, involves teams of four Native American riders dressed in colorful regalia racing bareback around the track on a series of three horses, exchanging them at high speed in front of the grandstand. Presented at Canterbury Park by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community each summer since 2013, this sport dates back more than 400 years. Horses were traditionally very important in Native American culture, and relay racing was an activity to test the horse, rider and team. Fourteen teams representing various tribes from Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, Washington and Idaho, will compete for prize money. The Championship will feature the seven qualifying teams from heats held during racing Thursday and Friday evenings.

Eddie Money Martin Still Riding Tall

BY JIM WELLS

Press your ear to the wall in shed row sometime, and you will pick up revealing thoughts on Eddie Martin, Jr.

“Best rider on the grounds,” says one trainer.

“If there’s real money on the line, he’ll ride the hair off a horse.”

“He’s not 25 years old any longer, but he can ride like it when it really matters.”

A better name under those conditions is Eddie Money, the Louisiana kid from Cajun country who can light up a mount like nobody’s business, get them to gallop right out of the clouds when it counts.

He’s not a kid any longer. In fact he was on the grounds in 1985 as a 19-year-old when Canterbury Downs debuted, his brother Chris, too, and his dad as agent.

That’s 34 summers ago, yet he swears on the graves of all New Orleans that race riding possesses him with nearly the same intensity it did back then. “And if it ever stops being that way,” he vows, ” I’ll either take a break and recharge or retire if it doesn’t come back.”
Racetracks where he hasn’t ridden. “Not many,” he said. “Never ridden at Santa Anita. Couldn’t tell you what it looks like except for what I’ve seen on TV.”

Martin has ridden some 31,600 horses with 4,049 wins, 4,115 seconds and 3,866 thirds in his lengthy career. He got a fast start in Shakopee this summer, in a loaded jockey colony, and is fifth place nonetheless with 13 wins.

He chuckled as he recalled his arrival in Shakopee in 1985, as a bright-eyed kid hoping to carve out a niche for himself. He and his father walked into the convenience store of the gas station across the street from the stables for a cup of coffee one morning. A pheasant had slipped inside the door and was wreaking havoc on the store, knocking bottles and package goods from the shelves as it bounded from one aisle to the next.

“I’ll never forget it,” Martin said, chuckling. ‘It was the damndest sight. Stuff flying this way and that, and the lady behind the counter screaming her head off.”

The summer of 1985 was special.

“Some of the best riders in the country were here. Some of the best trainers in the country, too,” Martin recalled. “I was just looking for a foothold. It was so competitive.”

Indeed, with trainers D Wayne Lucas, Jack Van Berg; riders Sandy Hawley, Mike Smith, among so many others.

Martin lasted a couple of months before moving on, and has returned to Canterbury in recent years, riding as long as no better options present themselves.

“He hates losing races. He loves winning, making money,” says his agent, Chuck Costanzo.
And that is precisely what Eddie Money Martin, Jr. hopes is the case on Saturday’s richest card of the season.

He has landed mounts in seven races, including the three biggest stakes on the richest day of the summer, with $500,000 up for grabs. He has mounts in the 100 grand Lady Canterbury (Remember Daisy) and the 100 grand Mystic Lake Mile (Supreme Aura).

And in the richest race of the summer, the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, he will ride Irish bred Spectralight, the only filly in the eight-horse lineup.

“I’ve worked her, I guess, five times,” he said.

“She’s a little sweetie. Kind, respectful, mature,” he added. “You could put a little kid on her. She wouldn’t hurt a flea.”

Not yet having seen the past performances, he took a guess at strategy. “She’s been running in Italy. Those horses from across the pond are used to running in a bog,” he said. “So if it rains, probably OK. She’ll like the soft going…… I don’t know maybe we’ll run at midpack and make a run. That’s probably what we’ll do. If it comes off the turf… ah, we’ll have to see.”

Eddie Money has a unique take on his sport, the public who bet on the horses he rides and the interrelated connections within the racing world.

“I try to make every horse I ride a winner,” he said, a claim that might possibly start a buzz among trainers or players here and there who might take issue.

“You know,” he added, ”a lot of things happen before a horse reaches me. There is a breeding that takes place, a vet that gets involved, a hotwalker, a trainer, an owner, a groom, exercise rider, the fans. It’s actually kind of fascinating. Little old ladies come to the track and bet their birthday dates, or the colors of the silks. People don’t consider all of that.”

Trainers, Martin added, want their horses to look their best when they parade in the paddock ring, when they take the track. “If every horse shows up in a tuxedo, you think people wouldn’t notice,” he offered.

There are other personal considerations, as well. Two daughters in college: Ally, a senior at Holy Cross in New Orleans and Cait, a sophomore at the University of Mississippi.

So, they are on his mind, too, as he continues a riding career with age not even a consideration.
“I really don’t know how much age has to do with it,” he said. “I still feel like a 12-year-old when I’m out there most days. When it stops being fun, then I’ll stop.”

Until that happens, Martin will continue riding….at Lousiana Downs, Remington Park, Canterbury Park, wherever there are races and a chance to make a paycheck, a chance to win the money.

Martin Puts The Past Behind Him On Opening Night

BY JIM WELLS

Eddie Martin, Jr., knew precisely where he was headed as he hit the finish line Friday night:
The winner’s circle, aboard Richie Gary, a 3-year-old gelding, who held off Sink the Bismarck by a half length.

Martin’s destination was clear after his horse hung on to win the first race of the 2019 season. That wasn’t the case the last time he rode a horse at Canterbury Park. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Shakopee and later transferred _ something he doesn’t recall _ to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

“I looked out my window (presumably the next day) and saw this US Bank sign,” Martin said. “I didn’t know where I was or how I got there.”

Martin had been injured in a spill at Canterbury Park during a race on the turf. He asked his nurse where he was after he surveyed his surroundings, and what had happened.

“You had an accident,” she said.

“What, a car accident ?” he asked.

“No,” she said. “A horse racing accident.”

Martin was riding a horse named Racinrosemary on the turf on July 4, 2016 and lost his seat when the horse was bumped. He seems to recall “trying to wrestle the horse to the ground”, but whatever the case, he wound up with a broken bone in a foot and a dislocated shoulder. There was an injury much more worrisome, though….in his upper neck. His C1 vertebra was broken.
He was fitted for a neck brace and later relieved to learn from his doctors that the sharp edge of the broken bone in his neck was pointing outward instead of inward, the reverse of their original concerns. “Because of that I was able to eat and there weren’t as many other worries,” he said.
All of that was behind him Friday as he prepared for the first race of his return to Canterbury Park. In that disastrous ending three years ago, he wound up in a brace for 100 days before returning to the saddle later that year at Delta Downs.

The racetrack in Shakopee has produced some memorable moments for Martin, certainly more pleasant than the injurious episode three years ago. He, his father and his brother Chris were here when the track opened in 1985. He was 19 years old at the time. His dad and brother finished the meet, as he recalls, but he left early to try his hand elsewhere.

One of the most recent milestones of his long career came last summer, on August 15. He rode the 4,000th winner of his career, as it happened, on the 18th birthday of his daughter, Caity. “I thought I could do it that day,” he recalled, “and I told her that.” Martin needed two wins to reach 4,000 and rode the first of those earlier in the card, saving the last for his final mount of the day. “I won it by about this much,” he said, holding his thumb and forefinger an inch apart.

So..anything special about winning that first race on Friday night ?

“Yeah, it’s behind me now, all of it,” Martin said.

And he can go on about his business for the next 65 race days.

THE RUN FOR THE ROSES TOPS TODAY’S CARD
Saturday’s card includes eight live races and simulcast wagering on two Grade I races, the $3,000,0000 Kentucky Derby and the $1,000,0000 Old Forester Turf Classic. First post is at 12:45 p.m. for a card that draws one of the largest crowds of the season and the largest wagering handle of the meet.

Canterbury Park First Half in Review

All Star

Hey now, you’re an All-Star – Smash Mouth

 

We have reached the halfway point of the 2015 Canterbury Park live racing season.  With two months of live racing still ahead of us, here is a look inside-the-numbers at what has transpired on the race track so far in 2015.  The following statistics are for the thoroughbred races only.

The Odds: 

Favorites are winning 39% of the thoroughbred races at Canterbury Park so far in 2015, slightly above last year’s 36% total for winning favorites.  The Allowance and Stakes race category has been the most formful, yielding 30 winning favorites from 69 races (43%).  Conversely, 38 winners have paid 8-1 or higher (14% of the races), including 8 super-bombs that returned over 20-1 odds to their backers.  Turf runner Congregation set the all-time Canterbury Park record for win payoffs when she paid $161.00 (79-1) on July 2 with Jenna Joubert aboard for trainer Vic Hanson.  This massive upset occurred nearly one year to the day after the previous record of $153.00 was set by Burning Fuhry on July 5, 2014.  That race was also on the turf.

Historically, turf racing at Canterbury Park has yielded a lower percentage of winning favorites than races on the main track.  That has not been the case so far this year.  The favorite has won 28 of 70 turf races (40%), but I expect that number to decline in the second half of the season.

The Jockeys: 

Looking at the top ten jockeys in the standings so far, the All-Star performer for best return-on-investment (ROI) was Eddie Martin Jr.  Eddie is currently 9th in the standings with 11 wins from 80 mounts, and he brought home 43-1 longshot Aaron’s Belt in the Princess Elaine Stakes to help post an impressive $1.12 ROI for all of his Canterbury mounts this year.  Martin has been winning most of his races in the latter part of the race card, so keep an eye on his runners when you play the late Pick 4!  All-Star props to Eddie Martin Jr.!

Leandro Goncalves also turned in a strong performance in the first half as he is currently second in the jockey standings with 35 wins, and also generated a flat-bet profit of $1.06 for every dollar wagered.  This is his first year riding at Canterbury so he may be flying under the radar a bit when he rides for some of the smaller stables.  That’s the situation where I would look to play him the most.  He was the main rider for the Tom Amoss barn, and 11 of his 35 wins were on Amoss-trained horses.  Unfortunately, that jockey/trainer combination drew a LOT of attention at the windows and Goncalves’ ROI on those 11 wins with Amoss was only $0.50 on the dollar.  All 11 of the winners for the Amoss barn were the betting favorite!  Goncalves has been exceptional in turf routes at Canterbury so far, winning with 8 of 23 mounts and returning $2.03 for every dollar wagered.

Dean Butler certainly deserves a mention as he leads the jockey standings with 44 wins from 188 mounts thus far.  Butler is a very well-known commodity at Canterbury Park with several riding titles under his belt.  His horses take serious action at the windows, which makes it tough to profit long term from his winners.  Butler was very reliable on favorites in the first half with 22 wins from 47 tries (47%), and he had an excellent ROI of $1.24 with maiden special weight runners, winning with 9 of 28 mounts.  Butler also showed a flat bet profit in turf routes (ROI=$1.02), which he has been very strong with over the years.

The Trainers:

The top ten trainer list had 3 trainers achieving a positive ROI at the midway mark.  Francisco Bravo got the All-Star award with 15 wins from 60 starters, achieving a $1.50 ROI.  He had many strengths in the first half this summer, including turf sprints (4/9 ROI=$4.36), turf routes (2/6 ROI=$2.70), maiden special weight races (4/8 ROI=$4.01) and maiden claiming races (3/7 ROI=1.83).  Only 3 of his horses were favored and they all won!  He was 0/10 with big longshots > 20-1 but he did have a 19-1 winner thrown in there!  Great first half for Francisco Bravo!

Joel Berndt also had a terrific first half from an ROI perspective, winning with 11 of 37 starters and returning $1.32 for every dollar wagered.  He has excelled in the Allowance and Stakes category, winning with 6 of 13 runners (ROI=$2.19) and in the maiden special weight category where he was 2/5 (ROI=$1.82).  Nine of his eleven wins have come in main track sprints!

Last year’s leading trainer, Robertino Diodoro, has picked up where he left off last year.  He already has 33 wins at Canterbury this year and has a 14 win lead over Mac Robertson in the standings.  I documented last year how difficult it was to make money with Diodoro or Robertson horses, but this year the Diodoro horses are doing much better from a wagering standpoint.  Diodoro showed a flat bet profit over the first half of the meet (ROI=$1.03), despite his runners being favored 40% of the time.  Impressive!  Claiming races are the name of Diodoro’s game as he is winning at a 37% clip and returning $1.27 for every dollar wagered on his claiming horses.  Catch him to cash!

 

Summary:

That’s a brief look at how the favorites fared and who the top jockeys and trainers were over the first half of the Canterbury Park live meet from an ROI perspective.  Follow these profitable trends and see if they carry forward over the remainder of the meet.  Continued success at the windows!

The Oracle

Canterbury Park First Half in Review

All Star

Hey now, you’re an All-Star – Smash Mouth

 

We have reached the halfway point of the 2015 Canterbury Park live racing season.  With two months of live racing still ahead of us, here is a look inside-the-numbers at what has transpired on the race track so far in 2015.  The following statistics are for the thoroughbred races only.

The Odds: 

Favorites are winning 39% of the thoroughbred races at Canterbury Park so far in 2015, slightly above last year’s 36% total for winning favorites.  The Allowance and Stakes race category has been the most formful, yielding 30 winning favorites from 69 races (43%).  Conversely, 38 winners have paid 8-1 or higher (14% of the races), including 8 super-bombs that returned over 20-1 odds to their backers.  Turf runner Congregation set the all-time Canterbury Park record for win payoffs when she paid $161.00 (79-1) on July 2 with Jenna Joubert aboard for trainer Vic Hanson.  This massive upset occurred nearly one year to the day after the previous record of $153.00 was set by Burning Fuhry on July 5, 2014.  That race was also on the turf.

Historically, turf racing at Canterbury Park has yielded a lower percentage of winning favorites than races on the main track.  That has not been the case so far this year.  The favorite has won 28 of 70 turf races (40%), but I expect that number to decline in the second half of the season.

The Jockeys: 

Looking at the top ten jockeys in the standings so far, the All-Star performer for best return-on-investment (ROI) was Eddie Martin Jr.  Eddie is currently 9th in the standings with 11 wins from 80 mounts, and he brought home 43-1 longshot Aaron’s Belt in the Princess Elaine Stakes to help post an impressive $1.12 ROI for all of his Canterbury mounts this year.  Martin has been winning most of his races in the latter part of the race card, so keep an eye on his runners when you play the late Pick 4!  All-Star props to Eddie Martin Jr.!

Leandro Goncalves also turned in a strong performance in the first half as he is currently second in the jockey standings with 35 wins, and also generated a flat-bet profit of $1.06 for every dollar wagered.  This is his first year riding at Canterbury so he may be flying under the radar a bit when he rides for some of the smaller stables.  That’s the situation where I would look to play him the most.  He was the main rider for the Tom Amoss barn, and 11 of his 35 wins were on Amoss-trained horses.  Unfortunately, that jockey/trainer combination drew a LOT of attention at the windows and Goncalves’ ROI on those 11 wins with Amoss was only $0.50 on the dollar.  All 11 of the winners for the Amoss barn were the betting favorite!  Goncalves has been exceptional in turf routes at Canterbury so far, winning with 8 of 23 mounts and returning $2.03 for every dollar wagered.

Dean Butler certainly deserves a mention as he leads the jockey standings with 44 wins from 188 mounts thus far.  Butler is a very well-known commodity at Canterbury Park with several riding titles under his belt.  His horses take serious action at the windows, which makes it tough to profit long term from his winners.  Butler was very reliable on favorites in the first half with 22 wins from 47 tries (47%), and he had an excellent ROI of $1.24 with maiden special weight runners, winning with 9 of 28 mounts.  Butler also showed a flat bet profit in turf routes (ROI=$1.02), which he has been very strong with over the years.

The Trainers:

The top ten trainer list had 3 trainers achieving a positive ROI at the midway mark.  Francisco Bravo got the All-Star award with 15 wins from 60 starters, achieving a $1.50 ROI.  He had many strengths in the first half this summer, including turf sprints (4/9 ROI=$4.36), turf routes (2/6 ROI=$2.70), maiden special weight races (4/8 ROI=$4.01) and maiden claiming races (3/7 ROI=1.83).  Only 3 of his horses were favored and they all won!  He was 0/10 with big longshots > 20-1 but he did have a 19-1 winner thrown in there!  Great first half for Francisco Bravo!

Joel Berndt also had a terrific first half from an ROI perspective, winning with 11 of 37 starters and returning $1.32 for every dollar wagered.  He has excelled in the Allowance and Stakes category, winning with 6 of 13 runners (ROI=$2.19) and in the maiden special weight category where he was 2/5 (ROI=$1.82).  Nine of his eleven wins have come in main track sprints!

Last year’s leading trainer, Robertino Diodoro, has picked up where he left off last year.  He already has 33 wins at Canterbury this year and has a 14 win lead over Mac Robertson in the standings.  I documented last year how difficult it was to make money with Diodoro or Robertson horses, but this year the Diodoro horses are doing much better from a wagering standpoint.  Diodoro showed a flat bet profit over the first half of the meet (ROI=$1.03), despite his runners being favored 40% of the time.  Impressive!  Claiming races are the name of Diodoro’s game as he is winning at a 37% clip and returning $1.27 for every dollar wagered on his claiming horses.  Catch him to cash!

 

Summary:

That’s a brief look at how the favorites fared and who the top jockeys and trainers were over the first half of the Canterbury Park live meet from an ROI perspective.  Follow these profitable trends and see if they carry forward over the remainder of the meet.  Continued success at the windows!

The Oracle

2013 Champions Determined

Sleep%20Walking%20-%20Senator%20Howe%27s%20Run%20for%20the%20Red%20Wing%20Roses%20-%2009-14-13%20-%20R04%20-%20CBY%20-%20Inside%20FinishThe skies were forbidding and dark much of the day, but the finish was one of the most colorful in Canterbury Park history as the 2013 race meet came to a stirring conclusion.

The weather was really not a factor until light rain began falling midway through the card. It was somewhat heavier by the eighth race.

The card included perhaps the most colorful and athletic promotion ever conducted on the premises, the championship race of the three-day Indian Relay Races.

An impressive turnout of 12,160 bid adieu to the season and reacted enthusiastically to the excitement of the relay races, won by a 23-year-old rider from the Shoshoni-Bannock Nation in Fort Hall, Idaho.

Most of them were gone by the time the trophy was presented to the leading rider this summer, Dean Butler.

The riding title for the meet came down to race four, in which Sleep Walking, ridden by Butler, held off Dakota Dusty and Alex Canchari. That increased his lead over Canchari to four at the time.

Canchari kept it interesting, nonetheless, hand-riding Theatre of Dreams to an easy win in race five to pull once again to within three and punctuating that with a win in the 10th race. Canchari and Butler were the only two riders to finish with total earnings of more than $1 million each. Butler’s total heading into Saturday’s card was $1,267,955. Canchari’s was $1,248,479.

Butler intends to take a couple of months off and then head to home to Tampa. Canchari intends to drops his tack at Hawthorne Race Course in suburban Chicago.

Mac Robertson had an 18-win lead over Bernell Rhone and Mike Biehler heading into the final card, his ninth consecutive training title safely in the bag. He added Saturday’s fifth and 10th races to increase his total wins for the meet to 51.

Lori Keith, who wound up as the meet’s fourth-leading rider, won her 41st race of the meet aboard Cap and Trade in the sixth. She intends to head to Oklahoma and then Arkansas and is sure to recall Canterbury 2013 as the meet in which she won a second consecutive Mystic Lake Derby, the biggest race of the summer.

Eddie Martin, Jr., had a solid meet, winning 37 races, as did Canterbury Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens, who won the seventh race, a $35,000 overnight stake, aboard National, trained by Miguel Angel Silva. Stevens concluded the meet with 34 wins and will return to Phoenix for the meet that begins on Oct. 5 at Turf Paradise. Martin was undecided about his next stop.

For 23-year-old rider Jerrad Serino the next stop is home. Serino was a convincing winner of the relay races, due largely to near perfect horse exchanges during both pit stops of the three-mile race. Three miles, three horses for each of the nine riders in the final, and the importance of the exchange after each mile became obvious as miscues during dismounting and engaging an awaiting exchange horse proved to be the difference.

“That was the most important,” said Serino, who stressed the importance of training and staying fit for these grueling races, all conducted bareback.

The win was the third of his career for Serino, whose twin brother got him interested in the sport three years ago. His entire family, everyone but Jerrad, has been involved with horses. “I didn’t like them as a kid. I wanted to play basketball,” said the 5-7, 145-pound Serino. What he did mostly was boxed, throughout his youth.

Riders frequently train for these races, not only by riding and conditioning their horses, but by using small trampolines, a foot or two off the ground, to strengthen their lower legs for bounding from one horse and onto another during exchanges.

Second place went to the His Bad Horse team and rider Lynwood His Bad Horse, Jr., a mere-16-year-old from the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

Third was Holds The Enemy, a Crow team, and rider Ferlin Blacksmith, who won two heats preceding the final.

In the first race of the last day of racing, Jake Barton picked up a check for the return trip to Phoenix aboard Smarty Gras, winning by two-plus lengths. Barton was a new addition to the jockey colony late in the season and intends to return again for the 2014 meet.

Until then, he will ride at Turf Paradise and, in his spare time, hunt the arroyos and washes of the Arizona desert for quail, his chief devotion outside of racing.

Martin Escobar brought in Lady Ban Shee in race two, rallying in the final 16th to shade Santa Fe Sue and Butler by a solid neck.

Strange things happen on closing day, such as…

Hi Prim, under Ken Shino, got up in the final jump to provide trainer Nancy Sheehan her first win of the meet, in her 51st try, and at 38-1 in race three. There was not much more than a half-length separating the top four finishers in that thrilling finish.

Immediately thereafter, paddock analyst Angela Hermann and track president/CEO Randy Sampson presented trainer Cory Jensen with the award for his leading owners of the meet, Midwest Thoroughbreds.

There were, of course, additional awards for the stars of the summer show – the horses.

Heliskier, owned by Marlene Colvin and trained by Robertson, was named Horse of the Year for the second straight meet, joining Hoist Her Flag as the only other horse in Canterbury history to win the title twice.

His dominance at Canterbury was demonstrated by two additional awards. Heliskier was named sprinter of the meet as well as the champion Older Horse.

Dorsett, trained by Michael Stidham and owned by Terry Hamilton, was selected champion Three-year-old Colt or Gelding on the strength of his Mystic Lake Derby win.

Badge of Glory, owned by Richard Bremer and Cheryl Sprick and trained by Rhone was selected champion Three-year-Old Filly, and Dontrattlemycage, owned by Nicholas Raver and trained by Nevada Litfin, was voted Grass Horse of the meet. Second Street City, owned by Al and Bill Ulwelling, second in the owner standings, was voted champion Older Filly or Mare.

Wayne Simon owned and Robert Johnson trained Appeal to the King is the champion Two Year Old. Machorina, owned by Emerald Bay Stables and trained by Mike Biehler, is the Claimer of the meet, and Stone Cottrell, owned by Terry Riddle and trained by champion conditioner Stacy Charette-Hill, is Champion Quarter Horse.

Still competitive despite his near miss at a title, Canchari brought in Grizzled Robert, the final winner of the 2013 season. That cut Butler’s final margin to two. The horse is trained by, who else, Robertson.

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.

Mystic Lake Derby Day Nears

MysticDerby_LogoGo ahead and pick up the champagne, dig out the attire you wore last year for the race, careful to assure everything is the same, not a single accoutrement out-of-place, cross your fingers and don’t say anything that might be construed as a jinx.

“My dad’s superstitious,” said Lori Keith. “It will have to be the same shirt, everything.”

The topic at hand is the second running of the Mystic Lake Derby on Saturday and the preparations of Mr and Mrs. Keith – William and Philomena (or Bill and Phil as they’re known) – for Saturday’s race.

For the uniformed, Lori Keith, a native of England and a regular rider at Canterbury Park, won the first running of the biggest race in Canterbury Park history last year aboard Hammers Terror, owned by Terry Hamilton and trained by Michael Stidham.

Bill asked his daughter in a recent conversation whether she would ride in the race again this year. When she informed him that the chances appeared good, he began making plans. “He wanted to know if he should get the champagne,” Lori said.

Keith’s parents, who own a restaurant in the South of France, watched the inaugural running down the street from the restaurant, at an acquaintance’s home. Good viewing, just a matter of connecting the laptop to the telly, as they say, and they saw their daughter win the biggest race of her career.

They plan on looking in again on Saturday.

Keith will ride a horse named Dorsett, owned once again by Hamilton and trained once again by Stidham. And, get this, she is breaking from the No. 2 hole in an eight-horse field, just as last year.

A year ago, Keith took the morning line second choice to the winner’s circle after surviving a stewards’ inquiry for interference in the stretch. This time she is on the 5/2 morning line favorite.

“I think he has a great shot,” she said. “On paper he looks very good, but I think it will be a very competitive race.”

Dorsett, a son of Artie Schiller from Dontgetnmyway, has two wins, a second and a third from eight career starts with earnings of $74,670. He is part of a field of eight that will engage at one mile on the turf.

$200,000 Mystic Lake Derby Field & Morning Line
PP Horse Trainer Jockey ML
1    Impassable Canyon Michael Maker Victor Lebron 5-1
2 Dorsett Michael Stidham Lori Keith 5/2
3 Finding Candy Michael Biehler Denny Velazquez 12-1
4 Coastal Breeze Wayne Catalano Channing Hill 4-1
5 Kale’s Kourage Kelly Von Hemel Ry Eikleberry 10-1
6 Evan’s Calling Neil Pessin Eddie Martin Jr. 8-1
7 Red Zeus Dan McFarlane Alex Canchari 6-1
8 Officer Alex Lynn Whiting Leandro Goncalves 9/2

Last year the purse was for a guaranteed $150,000 and produced a total of $162,000 and change after adding in the entry fees. This year the race offers a guaranteed $200,000. The lion’s share of that funding, $150,000, is provided by the Mystic Lake purse enhancement fund.

The inside post was drawn by Impassable Canyon, a colt by Tapit from Anna Forever, owned by F. Thomas Conway and trained by Mike Maker.

Finding Candy will line up in the No. 3 hole. He is a colt by Candy Ride, owned locally by Al and Bill Ulwelling and trained by Mike Biehler.

The No. 4 hole will go to Coastal Breeze, a colt by Empire Maker that is owned by Barry Golden and trained by Wayne Catalano. The No. 5 hole belongs to Kale’s Kourage who has earned $85,511 lifetime and has won three of his seven career starts. He is owned by Pam Von Hemel and trained by Kelly Von Hemel.

Lining up in the No. 6 spot will be Evan’s Calling, with one win in 11 career starts. The No. 7 belongs to Red Zeus, who has earned $112, 426, running primarily at Turf Paradise in Phoenix with two starts locally, including a win at six furlongs his last out. He is owned by Peggy Hopwood and trained by Dan McFarlane.

Officer Alex drew the outside post. He has earned $163,000 running on the circuit between Churchill Downs and Oaklawn Park. He is trained by Lynn Whiting, who saddled Lil E. Tee, the winner of the 1992 Kentucky Derby.

So, there you have it, the lineup for the richest race in Canterbury Park history, a whopping $200,000 guaranteed and an opportunity for Lori Keith to top last year’s take.

“Oh, I can’t believe it,” she said. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

Is superstition a genetic trait?

SHAKOPEE JUVENILE AND NORTHBOUND PRIDE OAKS

Both races offer $100,000-guaranteed purses.

The Oaks at a mile on the turf has been run in some form, fashion or name since 1985 and was won in 2012 by Soonerette, ridden by riding champion Tanner Riggs for Donnie Von Hemel.

$100,000 Northbound Pride Oaks & Morning Line Odds
PP Horse Trainer Jockey ML
1    Eden Prairie Neil Pessin Channing Hill 3-1
2 Kipling’s Joy Michael Stidham Dean Butler 9/2
3 Stoupinator Mac Robertson Alex Canchari 5-1
4 I’m Already Sexy Wayne Catalano Scott Stevens 4-1
5 Seeking Treasure Larry Dunbar Ry Eikleberry 10-1
6 Raising Dakota Tevis McCauley Luis Garcia 8-1
7 Kissmeimdanish Valorie Lund Derek Bell 8-1
8 American Sugar Kenneth McPeek Victor Lebron 6-1

Saturday’s edition has a field of eight, including the Ken McPeek-trained American Sugar, who is trying the grass for the first time and is 5-0-3 from 13 starts with earnings of more than $200,000. Robert Lothenbach’s Eden Prairie is 2-0-1 from six grass starts and earnings of $70,000-plus. Michael Stidham’s Kipling’s Joy is 2-0-3 from nine career starts, both wins on the grass, with earnings of $62,200.

I’m Already Sexy arrived from Arlington Park and has won twice from three turf starts, is three-for-six overall, and earned $81,141. Wayne Catalano trains. Locally-owned Stoupinator, trained by Mac Robertson, has hit the board three times in three turf starts and is 2-1-2 overall from six career starts with earnings of $76,000. Here’s a look at the field:

The Juvenile, for colts/geldings and fillies, is being run for the first time, at 7 and 1/2 furlongs on the turf and has attracted a field of nine boys.

$100,000 Shakopee Juvenile Field & Morning Line Odds
PP Horse Trainer Jockey ML
1    A P Is Loose Michael Biehler Lori Keith 6-1
2 Aft Michael Lauer Leandro Goncalves 8-1
3 Rumbauer David Van Winkle Ry Eikleberry 6-1
4 My Corinthian Dane Kobiskie Luis Garcia 7/2
5 Fling Orrin Cogburn Eddie Martin Jr. 12-1
6 Clarisimo Sandra Sweere Nik Goodwin 10-1
7 General Jack Michael Maker Victor Lebron 3-1
8 Chairman Crooks Tony Rengstorf Dean Butler 6-1
9 Pure Surprize Vic Hanson Jenna Joubert 10-1

Among those is a 2-year-old colt named General Jack, a Kentucky-bred son of Giant’s Causeway who is looking to break his maiden on Saturday after running second among maiden special weights for $70,000 at Belmont Park.

He had a bullet work in late June and is trained by Mike Maker who has made a habit of winning big races at Canterbury.

Aft, trained by Michael Lauer, broke his maiden last time out in Indiana. Lauer tried to run Aft on the lead his first out and finished second. He ran him off the pace in his second start with improved results.

My Corinthian has hit the board three times in three career starts and was the first of the shippers to arrive, stabling here on Monday. He is trained by Dane Kobiskie. He is 1-1-1 from three career starts and is 1-1-0 from two outs on the grass.

Mike Biehler will saddle A P Is Loose, who ran third in his first start, at Canterbury on July 11. Clarisimo, trained by Sandra Sweere, is another local horse who broke his maiden here on June 16. Dave Van Winkle will saddle locally stabled Rumbauer, who broke his maiden under Ry Eikleberry on July 11 in his second start.

Vic Hanson will send out Pure Surprize, a local juvenile who broke his maiden at first asking on July 14. Fling, trained by Orrin Cogburn, did not hit the board in two previous starts.

Curtis Sampson’s Chairman Crooks, named for the late leader of the Mdewakanton Community, is trying the grass for the first time. He broke his maiden first time out, on June 13.

Wagering Opportunities Abound

The three races will be run as races 6, 7 and 8 on the card with the Oaks leading off, followed by the Juvenile and then the 2nd running of the Mystic Lake Derby. Post times are 4:10 CDT, 4:40 CDT and the Mystic Lake Derby will go off at 5:12 CDT. The three races anchor Saturday’s late pick 4 which continues to feature a 14% takeout, among the lowest in the country. Additionally, the three stakes comprise an all-turf Pick 3 also featuring the same low takeout rate of 14%.

Check back here often to learn more about the participants for Saturday’s big races over the coming days.

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.

2013 Derby Day Nears

HAMMERS TERROR_The Mystic Lake Derby_07-28-12_CBY_Inside FinishOccasionally she’ll think about the race and the biggest win of her career, the stuff of warm feelings and pleasant thoughts, except for that interminable wait.

“It was intense, wasn’t it though,” says Lori Keith.

The subject at hand, of course, is the inaugural Mystic Lake Derby first held in 2012 and Keith’s controversial win aboard Hammers Terror. About half the grandstand thought the horse should have been taken down. The other half sided with Keith’s horse.

So did the Stewards, who ruled that Hammer Terror did in fact veer in front of Delegation in the final yards but the action did not change the outcome of the race in their view. Nonetheless they gave Keith days, even after she sweated out the decision on the race for what seemed like an eternity.

Keith talked about the race as she headed to the paddock on Sunday for the third race, which she won aboard Francisco Bravo’s Free Sailing.

She is hopeful of riding in the second Mystic Lake Derby next Saturday, for the same owner whose horse she rode last year.

“Things can change,” she said, “but there’s a good chance .” She referred to a three-year old colt named Dorsett, owned by Terry Hamilton and trained by Michael Stidham, who have the same connections as Hammers Terror, the 2012 champ.

Hamilton has talked about how great it would be to win the first two Mystic Lake Derbys. He has to run a horse for that to happen, of course.

The $200,000 Derby will be run on the same card with the $100,000 Northbound Pride Oaks and the $100,000 Shakopee Juvenile Stakes. All three to be run over the Canterbury turf course.

Questions about the second rendition of the Mystic Lake Derby abound at this point:

Will Dorsett indeed run and will the field include a Java’s War, a longshot who finished 13th in this year’s Kentucky Derby and, although nominated to the Derby, is a longshot to appear in next Saturday’s race?

Undrafted, owned by New England Patriots defector and current Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, has been nominated also.

Other nominees include Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s You Blue and Leaden In Ken, along with Bill and Al Ulwelling’s Finding Candy. In total, nearly 100 horses were nominated for the trifecta of grass races next Saturday.

The draw is scheduled on Wednesday for all three races.

My Corinthian, trained by Dan Kobiskie and scheduled to arrive Monday, will run in the Juvenile and will be the first horse on the grounds for Saturday’s stakes events.

The Shakopee Juvenile, at 7 and 1/2 furlongs on the turf, will be run for the first time. The Oaks, at a mile on the turf, was won last year by Soonerette, owned by Robert Zoellner, ridden by riding champ Tanner Riggs and trained by Donnie Von Hemel. The purse this year is $100,000, for the first time since 1995, when the Carl Nafzger-trained Fluffkins won. Von Hemel nominated no horses to the Oaks but has nominated Smack Smack, owned by Dream Walkin’ Farms, Inc. (the stable name of renowned country music singer Toby Keith) to the Juvenile.

CANCHARI SURGES IN JOCKEY STANDINGS

Alex Canchari, the Minnesota Kid as he refers to himself, surged this week into second place in the rider standings, riding seven winners to wind up Sunday night with 31 winners for the meet.

That’s eight behind the leader, Dean Butler, a three-time champion. Ry Eikleberry had only one winner for the week and slipped into third place with 30 wins, followed by Lori Keith with 29 and Hall of Fame rider Derek Bell and Eddie Martin, Jr. at 25 wins each. Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens is next with 23 wins.

There was no change in positions among the track’s top trainers. Mike Biehler continues in front with 24 wins, followed by Bernell Rhone with 22 and Mac Robertson with 21.

Stormy Smith, who rode the winner of the Bob Morehouse Stakes, Western Fun, on Saturday, continues to lead the quarter horse riders. He has 16 wins. Jorge Torres is next with 14.

SUNDAY HAPPENINGS

You Be Gator Bait, trained by Mac Robertson, is nominated but won’t run in the Shakopee Juvenile, not with a mere week’s rest. He won the opening race on Sunday’s card for Minnesota-bred maidens with Chris Fackler up. “He’s a hard worker,” Robertson said of the winning rider. The most likely spot to see the Minnesota-bred next will be on the 2013 Festival of Champions card in the Northern Lights Futurity.

Martin Escobar was the only double winner among the riders Sunday, with Hard Cider in the sixth and Scorsese in the seventh, his 10th and 11th winners of the meet.

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.

Must Be Divine Intervention

Gadzooks -  07-18-13 - R03 - CBY - FinishIt happened to Paul when he was knocked from his horse by a bolt of lightning. The best selling book of all time has numerous other examples of divine intervention, but heretofore none have been documented at Canterbury Park until Thursday night.

In fact, three examples were brought forth recently, putting the track itself in line for possible selection as a shrine.

We speak of Thursday’s third race. The results of race two were posted and mistakenly identified as race three. The winner of race two was the No. 8 horse, and as handicappers began assessing the mistake on the television screen other revealing information came to light.

“I’ve called 26,000 races and never before seen that happen,” said PA announcer Paul Allen. “The tv screen gives you the winner of the next race. The rider of the 8 horse in race three was Ry Eilkleberry. His wife (pressbox assistant Jilique) was sitting right behind us. It was a no-brainer. Free money.”

“It’s an epiphany,” said PA.

“It’s an epiphany,” said pressbox guardianJeff Maday.

So… what happened? The No. 8 horse in race three, a 3-year-old gelding trained by Miguel Angel Silva, not only got up for first but paid $35.80. His name? Gadzooks (pictured above).

Alas, the signs were all present, available for all to see, but no one bet the winner.

Not even paddock analyst Angela Hermann.

“I picked the horse second,” she said. “Did I have him in the pick four? Nooooooo.”

As another disciple from the ancient past once said: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t…”

SECOND MIRACLE OF THE WEEK

As he does every day, Scott Stevens turned his two dogs out in the field next to the stable gate to run after Saturday morning’s torrential rains. Molly, a 1 ½-year-old Boston Terrier, and Angus, a 9-year-old Bulldog, were enjoying the water, especially Molly.

“She loved it,” said Stevens.

Molly is well behaved, but the moment Stevens saw the jack rabbit race past, he knew where she was headed. The rabbit darted across Canterbury Road with Molly in avid pursuit.

Stevens was on the phone with his agent Chad Anderson at the time. When he saw the rabbit he said to Anderson, “if Molly goes after that rabbit she’s a goner.”

Stevens had spotted an oncoming car at the same time.

An instant later the car struck Molly. The driver later told Stevens that he was going 50 to 60 mph. “She must have rolled 50 yards,” Scott said.

Stevens was convinced Molly was dead but retrieved her from the road and carried her 200 yards to the stable area.

Molly wound up at a veterinary clinic in Prior Lake where she was operated on for a broken pelvis. The clinic had to call in a surgeon who performed the operation on Tuesday.

In the meantime, however, vets were calling her the “miracle dog.”

She had a broken pelvis. “In three places,” said Stevens, who knew just how she felt. He, too, had gone through the ordeal of pelvis surgery after a riding accident.

A plate and six screws were inserted into Molly’s pelvis. “It’s a miracle she’s alive,” said Stevens.

Molly will need to take it easy for several months, but she is , indeed, the “miracle dog.”

This miracle put her owner back a tidy sum – three grand.

A BLESSING IN DISGUISE

HBPA president Tom Metzen was having coffee early Saturday morning before heading to a National HBPA meeting here when the phone rang.

Tom Metzen and his wife, Karen, are Minnesotans but they own a home in Phoenix in an area where several owners are Arizona residents during the winter months primarily. A neighbor in the area watches out for the snowbirds’ homes during the summer months when they return to their other homes.

The neighbor, Ruby, was doing just that when she called the Metzens. “You have water coming out of your garage which is filled with water,” she said.

A home 1,600 miles away inundated with water and nothing a person can do about it!

Karen looked at her husband and noticed his complexion waning, turning white.

“My heart started beating rapidly,” he said.

“You need to get down here immediately to take care of this problem, Mike,” Ruby added.

Mike?

“You’ve got the wrong number,” Metzen told her.

The call was intended for a different neighbor.

GROOMS FINISHED, NOW THE TRAINERS

Nineteen participants completed the 201 course in the Groom Elite program and nine of them were certified as Elite 201 grooms after completing the five-week 101 class as well.

Two participants finished the program for the second time and were certified as Jr. Elite. Seven participants are taking the assistant trainer/trainer course that ends on Friday.

THE ORACLE SEES IT CLEARLY

The Oracle, Canterbury’s handicapper supreme, demonstrated the correct way to handicap a card on Thursday, picking six consecutive winners on races four through nine.

He got his streak under way with Mr. Cacht, a 3/5 favorite in race four under Derek Bell, who rode six consecutive winners at Canterbury on June 14, 2002.

Bell made it two in a row with Somerset Swinger in the very next race and was greeted by a fan on his way down the steps from the winner’s circle. “You’re my hero,” the woman said as Bell handed her his goggles.

Next was Gail’s Jewel and Alex Canchari at 8-5, and then City Kid and Scott Stevens and then Cachemassa Creek and leading rider Dean Butler. Wrapping it up was Sue’s Stormy with Eddie Martin, Jr. up.

Six consecutive wins was a first for the Oracle. He just missed seven when Okra Wind Free and Martin caught his pick, Rock Hard Legacy and Alex Canchari, in the final strides.

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.

Paychecks Being Decided by Inches… and Photos

Sugar Storm -  07-07-13 - R03 - CBY - FinishIt’s a game of inches (and photo finishes) this summer for the riders in Shakopee where increased purses have expanded the jockey colony and spread out available horses.

Sunday, for instance, there was a different rider in the winner’s circle after each race.

Competition is the name of the game, for mounts of any kind for most and the best mounts for the elite few.

A recent surge has three-time riding champion Dean Butler in front by five wins, with 29 to Lori Keith’s 24. Ry Eikleberry and Alex Canchari, who had a bangup week with seven winners, have 20 apiece. Eddie Martin, jr. and Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens have 18 each. Derek Bell, a six-time riding champion, has 17.

It’s been a competitive, wild race.

“Yes it has,” said Bell.

Take the third race as an example of how every inch counts. Saving ground frequently is the difference. Silver Rock Star and Keith came off the turn several horses wide and made a tremendous run at Sugar Storm and Butler up front. The difference? Not more than an inch, two at the most. Move Keith’s horse even one path nearer to the rail and it’s a different outcome.

“That would have been enough,” she said. “When I made my move I was five wide and then got fanned out.”

Paul Allen’s race call at the finish summed it up:

“It’s so, so tight,” he said. “I think it’s Sugar Storm, but it’s tight.”

Thus, Butler moved five wins in front of Keith.

It’s competitive at Canterbury this summer and the pressure is beginning to show. The hottest story on Sunday was the issue of one jockey taking a poke at another, the result of leftover tensions from the racetrack or elsewhere.

Stevens has put on a couple of textbook riding demonstrations this meet, including the seventh race on June 30 with the ride of the season.

The veteran jock is widely regarded for intuitive ability with horses, an ability to coax out whatever remains in the tank in those final strides, and that was the difference in this particular stretch dual. His horse, Alphabets Tuff Gal, had the lead from the gate, with half length leads at the half-mile and three-quarter poles. Then Alex Canchari and Dolly Peach engaged the leader, taking the lead by a half-length at the stretch call. Yet, Stevens found remaining resolve in his horse and claimed back the lead to win by a head.

Switch back to Sunday afternoon and the second race. Stevens was aboard a Mac Robertson-trained horse named Limo, the only Minnesota-bred in the six-furlong allowance. Whispering, rubbing or any form of persuasion other than the stick were useless in this instance Stevens knew, driving his horse to a win by whiskers over Thatlleavemark and Juan Rivera.

Skeptics who’ve written off Stevens because of age or injuries the last couple of years are eating their words. “He rides as if he’s a lot younger,” said one observer. “You can’t guess his age out there.”

But you can guess this, the observer added:

“Watch for Mac to start making his move now,” she said. “He’s starting to heat up.”

WAS THE GLOVE A WHITE ONE?

Jilique Eikleberry, a press box assistant in charge of player development, underwent surgery at St. Francis Hospital recently. Jilique is married to Ry Eilkeberry, one of Canterbury’s top riders.

Beforehand, her father, Jerry, mentioned that maybe her food would be served by former Canterbury rider and current trainer Luis Canchari, who also works at the hospital as a room waiter. Senor Canchari delivered Jerry’s food when he was hospitalized in the past. Jilique laughed off the possibility.

Sure enough, last Monday night,Canchari, known as Louie the glove during his riding days, arrived with Jilique’s dinner.

“I think he was a little confused at first,” she said. Canchari was familiar with Ry but not his wife.

“He knew Ry and recognized the last name and wasn’t certain who should get the food,” Jilique said.

The matter was quickly straightened out and dinner was served.

The Glove continues to deliver.

RECORDS BY THE HANDFUL

A change in the configuration of the turf course and gate placement for a majority of turf races run at “about” distances – in addition to the recent lack of rain and the subsequent firm turf course – has resulted in several track records over the past few days.

The addition of a the chute late last season and the desire to bring back a distance on the grass (one mile and seventy yards) last used in the early 1990s are partly responsible for a change in the way that “about” distance races have been conducted this year. In fact, when Teletimer – the track’s official timing company – came out to wire the course at the beginning of the meet and reconfigure the timing mechanisms for the one mile and seventy yard distance on the turf, they helped track officials properly realign the starting gate for the start of all “about” distance races. As a result, patrons are likely to see a few more track records over the course of the season… most likely at “about” distances on the lawn.

Thus far, the records have come too quickly for a rider to savor the occasion long.

Take Eikleberry who set a record on the grass this week and requested a picture for his memorabilia collection.

“It was only a record for a couple of races and another one was set,” he said.

Yes, for sure, it is a fast-paced world.

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.