No one in the public eye of American Racing captured the hearts of the thoroughbred world more convincingly than a 92-year-old woman from Minnesota in 1990.
Frances Genter, the grand dame of American racing, is still recalled for her Kentucky Derby win with Unbridled and the emotional race call of trainer Carl Nafzger that year at Churchill Downs.
Her lack of height and advancing years prevented Mrs. Genter from seeing clearly over the heads of fans in front of her, so Nafzger, at her side, called the race as Unbridled brought home the roses that afternoon.
Although the Kentucky Derby win thrust her into the national spotlight, Frances Genter and her deceased husband, Harold, were widely credited with helping build the Florida thoroughbred industry.
They owned some of the legendary horses of racing and breeding including champion two-year-old filly My Dear Girl, 1951 Santa Anita Derby winner Rough ‘n Tumble, 1967 Florida Derby winner In Reality, and 1980 Flamingo Stakes winner Superbity.
Canterbury Park annually stages a race named for the Eclipse-Award winning Mrs. Genter, as it did on Thursday in front of more than 14,000 fans with the $50,000-guaranteed Frances Genter Stakes.
It is certainly appropriate that a jockey who was riding at Canterbury Park the year Unbridled won the Derby was also aboard the winner of this race named for the owner of the 1990 3-year-old North American Horse of the Year. It is also fitting that he won this race only once before in its 23 runnings, in 1990 aboard Superb Sympathy.
Hall of Fame jockey Scott Stevens, who put in the ride of the season so far, in an obscure race on Wednesday, had to change plans quickly during the course of the race after strategy A was dismantled quickly.
The plan for his horse, Badge of Glory was simple. “We wanted the lead,” Stevens said. “But we couldn’t keep up with Mac’s horse (Hall of Fame trainer Mac Robertson’s Blue Moon Magic).”
Then the plan disintegrated as Stevens’ horse began taking dirt in the face. “By the time I got her to settle, I think we only had two horses beat,” Stevens added.
His observation was exact.
With a half mile to go in the six-furlong event, Stevens was in front of only Top Vow and Adorkable. It was a glory run from there. “When I asked her, she really came running,” Stevens said.
Running indeed. Badge of Glory, owned by Cheryl Sprick and Richard Bremer, picked off horses one by one, eight in all, to finish one length in front of 54-1 outsider Sultry Queen with Anne Von Rosen up and 1 ½ in front of the tiring even money favorite Blue Moon Magic and Derek Bell.
The win was the third in the Frances Genter Stakes for trainer Bernell Rhone, who won last year with Happy Hour Honey and in 1997 with Anisha.
Badge of Glory wanted the lead on Thursday but benefited from the swift early pace up front when Sentiment Gray and Juan Rivera went right at Bleu Moon Magic to create fractions of 21.67, 44.66 and 57.98. The winner, a chestnut filly by Badge of Silver from Dracken, caught the tiring horses in front of her with a winning time of 1:12. 74.
The victory made Badge of Glory the fifth Minnesota-bred filly of all time to complete the Northern Lights Debutante/Frances Genter Stakes sweep capturing both the two-year-old and three-year-old Minnesota Sprint Stakes joining Her Sweet Saint (2010), Chick Fight (2009), Sentimental Charm (2006) and Samdanya (1998).
LUCKY DOESN’T ALWAYS MEAN THE SAME THING
Trainer Randy Weidner, a native of Rosemount, was back in the winner’s circle Thursday with a horse named Track A Tac, his first winner since a tornado devastated his barn in Moore, Okla.
Track A Tac won the 350-yard dash, Thursday’s 10th race, just as his trainer and owner, M and M Racing Stables had hoped.
“This horse was waiting for me when I got here (after the tornado),” said Weidner. Originally, the horse was supposed to go to Oklahoma but the owner , Pat Krieg of Tucson, arranged for the horse to pick up a ride to Minnesota from Turf Paradise in Phoenix.
Pat was in North Dakota this week to attend her brother’s funeral. Her brother, Greg Marquardt, 63, was a jockey and raced in his younger days against Bernell and Russ Rhone and Gary Scherer.
So, the victory was bittersweet for Krieg.
And Weidner, too.
“When we got her we had a one-horse stable,” said Weidner, who is batting .500. Track A Tac is his second starter at Canterbury.
The horse’s barn name, by the way, is Lucky.
PICK YOUR PUPPY
Oscar appears to have some competition this year from a hippy cousin in the Dachshund ranks.
Oscar, the defending Wiener Dog race winner from 2012, was a little restive on Thursday but still beat nine rivals to the wire first in the warm-up for the Labor Day finals.
On his heels was Philly, a wirehair Dachsund, who hasn’t raced in nearly two years but looked in rare form nonetheless.
Philly is owned by Mike Linnemann and Emily Gage and is not to be taken lightly. He has two third-place finishes in this race and would like to change that this time around.
THE VIDEO SAYS IT ALL
Last, but certainly not least, let’s not forget that Canterbury held its annual hot dog eating contest on the fourth. However, the display of gluttony was too much for this blogger to overcome. Watch the video:
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.