Dorsett to Tackle Hawthorne Derby

Dorsett - Mystic Lake Derby - 08-03-13 - R08 - CBY - Action FinishThe first set of Canterbury Connections was a complete bust, We were seeking prices and found overmatched horses. More combatants are taking to other racetracks now that the season’s been done for a few weeks, so we’ll try again.

Many Canterbury horses are showing up in the entries at Hawthorne, and even though I only sampled Stickney for a few months it’s a track I enjoy taking a glance at. There are of course, other venues hosting Canterbury animals but let’s take a look at this weekend:

Friday – 10/4 – Hawthorne

Race 3 – Chongo – He isn’t the most experienced Midwest runner in the world but he sure is improving at the right time. He didn’t try to get on Hawthorne dirt this year but with turf racing virtually non-existent thus far in 2013, Chongo had to break his maiden on the main track. He did so very impressively despite the light figure, and improved in his summer in Minnesota. His pedigree has a fair amount of turf in it but nothing screams that he’s any better on one surface than the other, and he’ll be a much better price than some of the faces Chicago’s seen lately. Alex Canchari will don the green & black silks for the mount, a local who’s quite familiar with the Hawthorne track.

Race 9 – Image of Grandeur – 6-1 is a decent enough number right? He ran well enough up here to take place honors in three of his four efforts in Shakopee but has not cracked the win column this year. Our track is not quite as kind to closers as Hawthorne is, especially after dark. There isn’t an abundance of speed, and it appears the Robertson charge He’s Bonafide will take some catching should he be allowed to lope along. It doesn’t seem to matter what the pace scenario is, the later it gets at Hawthorne the better the closers rattle along.

Saturday – 10/5

Race 5 – (G3 Hawthorne Derby) – Dorsett – Yeah, we can’t really call him our own but he won the biggest race we run. After a “meh” race at Del Mar (move a bit WIDER Bejarano), they’ve regrouped with Terry Hamilton’s colt (pictured above) and will try another graded race. While he usually lands just a couple of lengths behind in these events, he is once again working well for this and lands in a nice inside spot to sit behind the front runners. He’s never touched Hawthorne grass but many of these fit that mold – he’s at least shown the versatility to take his act on the road and handle different courses. This is not exactly a horse that I bubble over with confidence in, but his price will be right and if he takes another step forward he’s got talent.

Keeneland – Race 8 (G1 Breeders’ Futurity) – General Jack – The 2013 Shakopee Juvenile winner has been off since a relatively easy score here on August 3. He’s the 5-1 second choice on the morning line in a race the connections are likely using to determine whether he has a future on the Kentucky Derby trail or whether he will stick to turf (for that matter, it could determine whether they try the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile or the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf). He was entered in a Grade 2 at Saratoga toward the end of August but was scratched. Now he boasts three solid drills at Churchill’s training track. Was second in a live maiden race at Belmont earlier this year… mixed signals on this guy’s future.

Remington Park – Race 8 – George Ray – He ended his season up here a winner, and he certainly will be given every chance from a pace standpoint to get two in a row for Tim Padilla. The nine-year-old seems to going well right now and will make his first appearance on Remington soil. As the year’s gone on he’s decided he’d rather sprint, and if his two routes up here this summer exit the equation he fits beautifully in this spot. There’s lots of early pace surrounding him in the gate, and as long as he can keep a traffic cop on standby he could be a decent price on the board. There is another Padilla charge trying the grass in the 9th, She’s Mighty Fast, who could be used with this horse in horizontal wagers but she may be a furlong or so short of her best distance.

Prairie Meadows – Race 9 – Cowboy Kudzu – We have seen a few of the faces in here, but the most recognizable one from this summer resides on the rail. However, Stacy Charette-Hill has not had the filly on the inside for a long time and her statistics may enough money that way to leave Cowboy Kudzu at a juicy price on the board. He started out nearly perfect as a two year old but is obviously delicate – He spent his three year old campaign on the pine. At four he’s been a mixed bag….must have needed his first couple at Remington then won here only to be vanned off. He needed time after that but returned with a decent third at much shorter. He’s been off since that time but must be feeling ok if he’s returning in this spot. He’s still 3 for 3 at 350 yards and should be a price. Take a look at the board when these hit the track though, as the more live Harris animal will probably show it with his price.

These are just a few of the locals stepping out elsewhere – Good luck betting them this weekend!

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela just completed her third year as Canterbury Park’s Analyst.

Dorsett in Del Mar Derby

Dorsett - Mystic Lake Derby - 08-03-13 - R08 - CBY - Action FinishDorsett, winner of the 2013 Mystic Lake Derby, is 6-1 in the second division of the Grade II Del Mar Derby to be held today at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in California. Trained by Michael Stidham and owned by Terry Hamilton, Dorsett, 6-1 on the morning line, will be ridden by perennial top California rider Rafael Bejarano.

The $300,000 Grade II Derby closed with 23 entries and management split the race into two divisions worth $250,000 each. Dorsett will have his work cut out for him as he goes up against two rivals that have already defeated him this summer at Arlington. Infinite Magic, morning line favorite and winner of the American Derby, defeated Dorsett in that race back on July 13.

General Election is the other Chicago shipper. He defeated Dorsett back in May in the Arlington Classic. Neither Infinite Magic nor General Election has run since the American Derby.

Saddled with the outside post, Dorsett has his work cut out for him. However, drawing the services of a rider of Bejarano’s quality can only be viewed as a positive sign. Heading into racing today, Bejarano’s 43 wins on the meet is 17 clear of the next leading rider.

Dorsett continues a rather impressive parade of horses to ship out of Canterbury and into major races throughout the country this summer. Designer Legs, who broke her maiden at Canterbury for Gary Scherer on June 28, went on to win the Grade II Adirondack Stakes on August 11. Owned by Valene Farms, Designer Legs was placed first following a disqualification in the Adirondack.

Designer Legs runs in today’s Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga Race Course for trainer Dallas Stewart. Shaun Bridgmohan has the call.

Earlier this week, General Jack, winner of the 2013 Shakopee Juvenile was posted as the morning line favorite in the Grade II With Anticipation at Saratoga but was scratched.

General Jack in With Anticipation

General Jack - Shakopee Juvenile Stakes - 08-03-13 - R07 - CBY - Inside FinishGeneral Jack, winner of the inaugural Shakopee Juvenile Stakes – a part of of the 2013 Mystic Lake Derby card – is favored on the morning line in Thursday’s Grade II With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York. Trained by Michael Maker, General Jack will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik – unquestionably the top female jockey in North America.

General Jack shipped into Canterbury following a tough-luck second place finish in a Maiden Special Weight at Belmont on July 12 as the prohibitive favorite. The public took notice of his horrific trip in Elmont, NY and sent him to the post at 3/5 in the $100,000 Shakopee Juvenile. Under a patient ride by Victor Lebron, he left no doubt about his superiority drawing away to win by a widening three lengths.

Installed as the 5/2 favorite by NYRA morning line maker Eric Donovan, General Jack will be hooking up with a duo that he already ran against in his maiden race in 3rd place finisher Bashart (4-1 third choice) and winner Tiger Bourbon (3-1 second choice). It is evident that Donovan feels strongly about the group that finished 1-2-3 in that July 12 Maiden Special Weight at Belmont as they are the top three choices here. That trio was 7-lengths clear of the rest of the field back on July 12.

The 81 Beyer Speed Figure run by General Jack in the Shakopee Juvenile is 7 points superior to any other runner in the With Anticipation. Out of the multiple graded stakes winner J’Ray who did her best work at 9 furlongs and by Giant’s Causeway, General Jack’s pedigree suggests that he should thrive in the 8.5 furlong With Anticipation.

One tip for the live racing fans, take a good look at this race and note how General Jack performs. Chairman Crooks, the runner-up in the Shakopee Juvenile, comes back to the races in an allowance race on Friday night and is likely to be prohibitively favored. General Jack’s performance could give you a good indication as to Chairman Crook’s chances.

TWO GRADED STAKES WINNERS AT SARATOGA?

General Jack will attempt to become the second horse with Canterbury connections to win a graded race at Saratoga during the 2013 meet. Designer Legs, who broke her maiden at Canterbury for Gary Scherer on June 28, went on to win the Grade II Adirondack Stakes on August 11. Owned by Valene Farms, Designer Legs was placed first following a disqualification in the Adirondack.

Designer Legs is working toward the Grade I Spinaway Stakes which will be held this Sunday at Saratoga Race Course. Entries for the Spinaway will be taken tomorrow.

Canterbury horses have shipped around the country with success in the past; however, two graded stakes victories at one of – if not the – best race meets in North America would be unprecedented.

CONNECTIONS ON BOTH COASTS

Canterbury connections haven’t been restricted to the east coast this summer. Delegation, runner-up in the 2012 Mystic Lake Derby, ran sixth in last Saturday’s Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar beaten only a length for second behind runaway winner and current top handicap horse in North America Game On Dude.

Additionally, the two-year-old daughter of Canterbury Hall of Famer Glitter Star, debuted at Del Mar on August 18 running a solid third.

UPDATE (8/29 – 10:15AM): General Jack was scratched from the race this morning. No word yet as to the reason.

A Little Less Suspense

Dorsett - Mystic Lake Derby - 08-03-13 - R08 - CBY - Action FinishShe took one look over her shoulder, gave her mount a stout reminder with the stick and cruised home, much the best in the biggest race of the season, the history of Canterbury Park for that matter.

Everything unfolded much as it did last season, with one major exception.

“No inquiry,” said the woman of the hour, Lori Keith, who has been aboard the first two winners of the first two Mystic Lake Derbys.

That’s right, the winning owner, winning trainer and winning rider of the inaugural Derby last year, won Saturday’s second running, breaking from the same No. 2 hole in an eight-horse field, just as last year. But for more money,

The race offered $162,000 and change last year. It was worth $200,000 this time around, $120,000 of that to the winning horse.

Gladly missing from Ms. Keith’s point of view was the interminable wait that accompanied last year’s race after her horse veered in front of the second place horse in the final 50 yards.

The stewards decided in her favor, ruling that the infraction did not change the order of finish but gave Ms. Keith days nonetheless for what occurred.

None of that on Saturday.

Keith began moving her horse, Dorsett, heading into the turn behind Coastal Breeze after that one made a bold move. The eventual winner swept past Coastal Breeze as if he were taking a nap. Dorsett cruised into the stretch, passing horses as if he were a Porsche in the fast lane of a freeway.

Much the best.

A bystander asked Keith when she felt the race was hers. “Actually, I felt confident the whole way,” she said. “I had a ton of horse all the way.”

A push-button colt as it were.

“This colt has gotten better and better,” said trainer Michael Stidham. “He’s better as a three-year-old than he was at two. The rider – Lori – did a great job, too.” The owner of the horse, Terry Hamilton, was not present but made it known some time ago that it was his goal to win another Mystic Lake Derby. Consider that goal accomplished.

Dorsett, a son of Artie Schiller from Dontgetnmyway, had three lengths on Coast Breeze and Channing Hill at the wire, 4 and ½ on Impassable Canyon and Victor Lebron, finishing in 1:35.69.

Afterward in the winner’s circle, Keith wrapped up in a stunning hand-made quilt from the Mdewakanton Sioux Community, whose purse contributions at Canterbury included $150,000 for this race alone.

The Star quilt is a traditional Dakota blanket that symbolizes life, spirituality and community and is given to mark major milestones.

Dorsett - Mystic Lake Derby - 08-03-13 - R08 - CBY - Pres2

This was indeed a milestone, for Canterbury, its relationship with Mystic Lake, for Hamilton, Stidham and, of course, for Ms. Keith.

$100,000 SHAKOPEE JUVENILE

The focus in this one was on a two-year-old named Chairman Crooks, ridden by Dean Butler, trained by tony Rengstorf and owned by Curtis Sampson.

The horse was named to honor the late Stanley Crooks, Chairman of the Mdewakanton Sioux Community at Mystic Lake with a nod also to his father, Norman, the tribe’s first chairman.

Several dignitaries from the community were present for the race, and they saw a good showing by the horse named for their former leaders. Chairman Crooks acquitted himself nicely, finishing second to the 3/5 favorite General Jack, a ship-in from Belmont Park, whose stretch effort provided a three-length win.

General Jack, a son of Giant’s Causeway, was much the best in this one. “We wanted the lead but when that horse took it we let him have it,” said winning rider Victor Lebron. “We went to plan B. I relaxed my horse and he finished strongly.”

The winner finished second in his only other start, at Belmont Park. So he broke his maiden in $100,000 race.

Owner Tom Conway knew he had a good one after General Jack hung on to finish second in New York. “He hit the gate and got bumped three or four times during the race,” Conway said. “He had the lead, got bumped and fell back.”

Nothing of the kind on Saturday.

General Jack surged through the stretch to a three-length win over Chairman Crooks, 4 and ¼ in front of AP is Loose and Ms Keith, with a winning time of 1:29.70.

$100,000 NORTHBOUND PRIDE OAKS

What a race!

Drama, excitement, suspense, investigations.

When it was done, Alex Canchari, the Minnesota Kid, had the biggest win of his young career aboard Stoupinator, owned by Joseph Novogratz of Excelsior and trained by Mac Robertson.

“That was a great ride,” said Robertson assistant Bradley Hedges. “That kid has a nice set of hands. He can ride.”

When the hullabaloo was complete, Stoupinator was the winner by a head over Seeking Treasure who was a head in front of Kipling’s Joy and Raising Dakota who finished in a Dead Heat.

A massive investigation by the stewards, paralleled perhaps only by the Watergate investigation, changed the official order, however.

Thus, Stoupinator did no wrong and kept the win. However, Seeking Treasure, was disqualified from second and placed sixth for interference, meaning that Kipling’s Joy and Raising Dakota moved up from third and dead-heated for second and I’m Already Sexy finished fourth.

The race also included a bit of drama before it started. Jockey Luis Garcia, on Raising Dakota, had not signed his license application with the Minnesota Racing Commission and was called up in front of the grandstand.

A racing official arrived with the document. Garcia jumped off his horse and signed his name, remounted and – as mentioned – wound up running second.

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.

Chairman Heads Juvenile

Chairman Crooks -  06-16-13 - R01 - CBY - Stretch FinishThere are two distinguishable features about this precocious two-year-old – his name and his physical appearance. He is stout, muscular and powerful looking. He is Chairman Crooks; and If that sounds familiar, it should.

The horse was named for the late Stanley Crooks who died last August, the chairman of the 420-member Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the son of Norman Crooks, the tribe’s first chairman.

The name came about because of a promise made by Canterbury Park’s Curtis Sampson, the man responsible for returning racing to Minnesota who became a friend of Crooks in the final weeks of his life, after the Mdewakanton Community and the racetrack struck their historic deal.

“He knew we were going to name a horse for him,” said Sampson. “I said we would.”

Sampson wanted the name bestowed on the best two-year-old he could find, and he did just that after trainer Mac Robertson bought this horse for him at the Keeneland fall sale.

This son of After Market and grandson to Storm Cat is from Overly Tempting, and proved to be just that when Robertson first saw him.

The purchase was made and the horse was sent straight to Ocala to begin training. By the time his new owner saw him, Chairman Crooks looked like a body builder tuned up for the Olympics. “He was a real specimen already. In fact, he was only a two-year-old but he looked like a stallion,” Sampson added.

When the horse was then shipped to Arkansas to join the Sampson’s stable of youngsters, Chairman Crooks stole the show. “He was clearly the standout,” Sampson said. “He’s not a tall horse. He’s more like a quarter horse.”

Chairman Crooks has one race to his credit, a maiden-breaking effort at Canterbury Park his first time out, on July 14, in which he went gate to wire, winning by four lengths.

It gets a whole lot tougher Saturday in the $100,000 Shakopee Juvenile at 7 and ½ furlongs on the turf. A tall order indeed, with two-year-olds trained by respected trainers arriving for the race, which is 2 and ½ furlongs further than the Chairman’s only other outing.

“There is a question of distance,” said the horse’s trainer Tony Rengstorf, who became the beneficiary of a horse already broken and ready to go when he took charge. “We’re going to learn a lot about him (on Saturday).”

There are factors to support Rengstorf’s belief that Chairman Crooks might be better suited to a shorter race. “He’s not very big, more like a quarter horse,” he said. “You might say he has more the makeup of a sprinter. We don’t know how far he can go. We’ll find out.”

Distance is not the only issue. General Jack is also. So is My Corinthian.

General Jack, a maiden son of Giant’s Causeway, ran his only race at Belmont Park, finishing second by a half length in a six-furlong debut clocked in 1:09 and 4/5.

My Corinthian is 1-1-1 from three starts after breaking his maiden at Colonial Downs. And there are six other starters.

“He’s a little young to tackle horses this tough,” said Sampson. “But we’re not backing off at all as far as our confidence. We only worked him once on the grass. He worked 7 and ½ furlongs and ran out a full mile and was strong at the end.”

The Juvenile is one of three stellar stakes on a card, highlighted by the $200,000 Mystic Lake Mile on the turf, the richest race in Canterbury Park annals.

A field of eight, headed by Dorsett and Officer Alex will line up for that one.

The first of the stakes trio is the $100,000 Northbound Pride Oaks at a mile on the turf. Eden Prairie and Kipling’s Joy head a field of eight.

Three races worth a guaranteed $400,000 with $270k of that amount from the Mystic Lake Purse Enhancement Fund that resulted from the agreement between Mystic Lake and Canterbury.

Chairman Crooks was named to honor the late chairman of the Mdewakanton Community but he might just as easily have been named for his father, too.

Norman Crooks bought a string of horses to race at Canterbury when the track opened in 1985. When he died, nine horses were turned over to his son.

“Stanley was working for Whirlpool at the time,” said Sampson, “and he couldn’t afford to keep the horses. He told me that he had wanted to do a deal (with Canterbury) of some kind for a long while that would help horse owners, the horsemen. He knew something about what it took to have horses.”

Today, Chairman Crooks will discover what he knows about stretching out and taking on the big boys.

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.