BY JIM WELLS
If you remember only this much about Saturday afternoon’s agenda and race card, you will have the focus points of the afternoon, but not all of the colorful detail that accompanied those highlights:
*A 3-year-old gelding named Hot Shot Kid continued to show the kind of promise that might someday enchant the race crowd and make him a fan favorite.
*Not all Corgis are race dogs that maintain a healthy lifestyle.
*Cupcakes sometimes are just that…cupcakes, and have nothing to do with the quality of competition in a given race.
*A crowd of 20,605, second largest in Canterbury Park history, was on hand to eat, eat, eat and wager.
Hot Shot Kid won his fifth straight race, demonstrating in the process that he can withstand a challenge and might not always dig deeply if he doesn’t have to. This time, he picked up a nice paycheck for his efforts, a cool $51,000 in the Minnesota Derby.
A filly named Double Bee Sting, owned by Curtis Sampson, was a convincing winner in the Minnesota Oaks and was rewarded with a $51,000 check. A two-year-old named Familiar Rhythm earned $24,000 as the winner of the second MTA Sales Graduate Futurity, and a four-year-old mare named Blacks Cartel won the Cash Caravan Stakes.
$85,000 MINNESOTA DERBY
Hot Shot Kid, an odds-on favorite, was a clear winner but not without raising a bit of concern for his connections who watched with bated breath as Got Even Smarter made an unsuccessful bid to take charge inside the 16th pole.
One of Hot Shot’s backers summed it up thusly as he entered the winner’s circle afterward:
“I wasn’t sure at first if he saw that other horse.”
Oh, he did, and after Alex Canchari gave him a reminder, Hot Shot rebroke and eased past the finish line with ¾ length to spare.
“That was a little tighter than I wanted it to be,” said owner Warren Bush.
Nonetheless, it was the fifth straight victory for Hot Shot Kid, who was sent off at 20 cents on the dollar. What was clear was this: Hot Shot Kid is more horse than he showed on Saturday. He had more in the tank if he had needed it.
The race became a two-horse affair between the first two horses. Got Even Smarter, under Orlando Mojica, had 8 ¼ lengths on the third-place finisher, Fireman Oscar.
The winner covered the mile and 70 yards in 1:42.91.
$85,000 MINNESOTA OAKS
A filly named Double Bee Sting took it to six rivals in the race, taking over at the three-quarter pole and widening that lead to six lengths at the finish.
Owned by Curt Sampson, Double Bee Sting was sent off the even money favorite under Jareth Loveberry and rewarded that confidence with a commanding victory, drawing off from the field in convincing fashion.
“The trainer tells the jockey what to do, the owner tells him what to do and then he goes out and does what he wants to,” said Russ Sampson.
Exactly, and what Loveberry did was let his horse find a place to settle in and track the pace, breaking to the lead and then expanding that margin to four lengths at the top of stretch and six at the wire, with Two Be Royal next and Pinup Girl third.
Double Bee Sting cruised home in 1:43.54, making Curt Sampson a five-time winner of this race. Shipmate, last year’s two-year-old champion, set the pace to the quarter pole but weakened in the final eighth.
$40,000 MTA SALES GRADUATE FUTURITY
The second running of this race added a bit of unexpected intrigue to the finish, considering that this event can often turn into a one-horse affair.
There were two horses there at the finish in this one.
Magic Cowboy took charge of this race from the start but dueled with Familiar Rhythm over the final 1/16 mile. Familiar Rhythm found the right rhythm in the final strides and claimed the wire first by a neck.
Trained by Troy Bethke, Magic Cowboy gave up the lead, took it back briefly but lost it once more. “He’s a big colt to rebreak,” said Bethke. “I have no complaints. He ran hard.”
Winning trainer Francisco Bravo credited his horse with a steady demonstration of improvement in workouts that paid off on the track. “He keeps getting better and better,” he said.
CASH CARAVAN STAKES
Blacks Cartel was at the wire first in the $41,000 Cash Caravan Stakes and that produced a family reunion in the winner’s circle. Well…sort of, anyway.
A bystander approached trainer Casey Black with the suggestion that yes indeed there seemed to be a cartel involved in this horse, with his brother Tracy the owner of record and his dad and mom, Don and Eileen, the breeders, and owners of the dam, Brandi Whiz.
Cartel? “Yeah, well you should have seen us when we were kids,” Casey said suppressing only part of his laughter.
Blacks Cartel, under Ismael Ricardo Suarez, finished a solid length in front of Givinitalittleeffort, in 22:11, although Casey was confident he had a winner halfway through the race.
When Casey got to the winner’s circle he was joined by more than the winning horse and rider. His father and mother were there as well, celebrating the win along with friends of theirs from Minnetonka. The Blacks, Don and Eileen, had a bit longer trip to Canterbury for the race, from Cherney, Kansas.
For several precious minutes on Saturday, Blacks Cartel, minus only the owner of record, had a winner’s circle celebration destined to continue once they returned to the grandstand.
Blacks Cartel joined an elite list of winners of this race, named for Cash Caravan, winner of the Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ Futurity, the 1987 North Star Derby and the Canterbury Derby. He was the champion 3-year-old and Quarter Horse of the Year in 1987 and is a Canterbury Hall of Fame inductee.
Tedford Woofington is owned by Kelsey Binder of Minneapolis and he had just what it took on Saturday to claim the grand title in this prestigious race.
Tedford made it to the finals last year but came up short. He didn’t let it happen this time.
His reward later in the evening just might have been a cocktail of some sort. “He loves gin and whiskey,” Kelsey said. You can’t let a drink sit around with Tedford in the room, or he is apt to help himself.
Kelsey got a bit of help of another kind from long-time friend Josh Alinger of St. Louis who made the trip to watch the race and support Tedford.
He also accepted some of the blame for Tedford’s affinity for alcohol.