Race of the Week: Mystic Lake Derby

MysticDerby_LogoThe second edition of the Mystic Lake Derby is fairly similar to the first, with connections hailing from all corners for this $200,000 purse at a mile on turf. Last year’s winning owner, Terry Hamilton, is back with the favorite in this year’s running in Dorsett, recently Grade 3 placed in the Arlington Classic.

To put the field’s complexion in perspective, two stakes winners have drawn in and they are 9/2 and 6/1 on the morning line. Surprisingly, that 6/1 stakes winner is the lone victor at a mile on turf thus far in his career. Red Zeus is an Arizona native who’s made his running here since spending the winter & spring in his home state, but came up with a solid victory last time on the main track against lesser foes. The payoffs may not need a Brinks truck for their removal, but this is still a guessing game to a degree with the undeveloped talent in the gate. Here we go!

1. Impassible Canyon – Can one ever throw out Mike Maker when he ships in for a stake? I don’t want to but I could be forced to with the difficulty in the first three legs of this late pick four. He gives up a whole lot of experience to this field and draws the rail to go with it. He’s not a speedy fellow out of the gate so that may not be an issue – but traffic could become one on a turf course that hasn’t been all that tiring on front runners. He has shipped many a place to find a comfortable surface and spot, and while he’s been close each time none of his races really scare you into singling him here. The fact still remains that his two best performances have been on Turfway’s synthetic track and Ellis Park turf. Not to undermine either place, but there are some big fish coming to swim.

2. Dorsett – This is your morning line favorite looking to keep the owner’s record perfect in this race. Hammer’s Terror was a little more seasoned by the time this race came around last year, but it appears this one is coming around a bit later in life with lots of talent. He can come from various points in the pack too, over many types of going. I’m sticking with lots of Chicago turf horses just because of what they’ve been through this spring as far as weather & whatnot. A lot of their allowance fields have been loaded with horses seeking turf and not getting it – when races stay on the grass they are TOUGH. His one really off race came on the dirt and unless that happens he’s a must use. Lori Keith will also try to keep her record perfect in the derby, and looks very live in that respect.

3. Finding Candy – He started off the year with a bang but hasn’t shown the same fight since that time. Maybe the slop was his friend that day? He fought it out on the front end gamely to break his maiden but winners have been a little too much for him early and late, as the margins of defeat in his last two have been hefty. Chongo did run impressively the other day but this horse is also back on less than a week’s rest… Hmmm. Interesting that he hasn’t flourished on turf as his mother’s only win came over the grass. This is one that may mature with grace but for now still has some things to iron out.

4. Coastal Breeze – Nothing wrong with a win streak. He’s looking for his third in a row in the Derby, and also draws Channing Hill up from Chicago to take the mount. He and Catalano have had their ups and downs at the Arlington Meet this spring but have been rock solid when right. This horse obviously fits in that category and has shown his versatility for all other surfaces besides dirt. Baffert enters a lot of maiden special weights in duos and this one always seemed to be a cut below his stablemate. Given a change of scenery the colt seemed much better off and showed the speed trained into him out west. Though his first try on turf wasn’t a resounding win, his subsequent synthetic efforts show the front running improvement to merit a shot here. Channing rode him in his first win, and the second and third finishers were well clear. May be the one in the right spot at the right time.

5. Kale’s Courage – He got a head start on some of his recently-arrived competition by getting a route win in over our track in May, though it was taken off the turf. What he beat that day remains to be seen, but given that it was on the dirt we still don’t know what the horse can really do on the track. There are a couple of winners in his family on the turf, and one can excuse his effort in the Iowa Derby against better. A couple that defeated him that day went on to run in the Jim Dandy last weekend, though not all that well. Lots of question marks here but he is the real deal.

6. Evan’s Calling – He has plenty of turf running behind him but only one win to show for those eight starts. Many were sprints in Louisiana, but the horse has learned to rate a bit as he’s gone along. He hasn’t won yet at a mile but has come around in that respect a bit lately. He was beaten pretty fair & square by Coastal Breeze two back but again, hasn’t necessarily needed the lead as he’s gained experience. He’s still good for non-2 competition though (like many) and will be a little up against it after trying stakes company once. He ran an even third in said race at the Fairgrounds and just doesn’t seem to have made steps forward as much recently as in the past.

7. Red Zeus – The raw stats are in his corner, but they are mostly due to his fifteen starts to dwarf the rest. He’s made three of them on turf and is a stakes winner over the surface, but that was against Arizona-breds and in fact we saw the top three finishers all come back to fill a trifecta in his last race on dirt. Were these three it in the quality three year old department this winter or is there more to it? He needs no pace help and is familiar with his jockey Alex Canchari. He hasn’t touched our turf before but got a bullet work in to prepare for this and is the one least-altering his schedule for the race. A few things to like about a local at a price – he will be on my ticket.

8. Officer Alex – The name immediately should say “I’m by Officer, and I learned how to run very early on.” He got in a couple of state-bred wins before hitting the road to Arkansas this spring, and had a very good spring after fleeing the Kentucky Derby trail early on. While he locked horns with grade 3 types a couple of times, both outings were unsuccessful and the same can be said of his two route efforts. He didn’t beat one horse home last time in his initial go over turf, and this one perhaps has the look of one seeking mud. He’s two of three over an off surface and his early lick makes him a must use if it’s washed off the weeds.

The three I’ll be using are Dorsett, Coastal Breeze & Red Zeus. This is a field that could line up at the end of it at the wire but this has the look of a lot more potential at this point than proven stardom. Find the colt moving forward at the right time and you could find value right along with it. Good luck in a grassy pick four on Saturday!

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann serves as the Track Analyst for Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero, Illinois and the summer of 2013 marks her third year in a similar capacity at Canterbury Park.

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?


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.