Bev and Dan Mjolsness – Canterbury Classics

By Mari Ballinger

Does the name Hoist Her Flag ring a bell? Well it should, because she was the winningest mare in Canterbury history.

Hoist Her Flag was named Horse of the Year in 1987, with two stakes wins: Mighty Miss Handicap and Eden Prairie Stakes races, and again in 1989, this time with four stakes wins: Charles Lindbergh Stakes, Don Riley Handicap, Eden Prairie Stakes, and Shakopee Handicap. In all she won 17 times from 32 starts at Canterbury.

Hoist Her Flag

And the people behind this legendary horse? Owners Beverly and Daniel Mjolsness, two of the nicest people anyone will ever meet.

“It’s exciting and wonderful to have a stakes race named after our horse,” said Bev Mjolsness. “She definitely deserves the recognition.”

The duo met at Dan’s sister’s apartment during their college years. Bev thought she was going over for a girl’s dinner and ended up meeting the love of her life. They later got married and started a family. One day, their daughter Jane asked Dan if they could get a horse.

“I grew up on a farm, taking care of and riding horses,” said Dan Mjolsness. “So when Jane said she wanted a horse, I was very easily convinced.”

But who stops after just one horse? The Mjolsness family started raising horses at their farm, and the rest was history. After 40 years of owning horses, their excitement and passion for racing hasn’t depreciated in the slightest.

Throughout the years, the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame couple have owned several different horses, but one stands out in particular. Their son Joe served in the Army and as tribute to him, they named one of their horses Colonel Joe. Although the gelding only won twice, it’s Joe’s service and the family memories that will be forever cherished.

For Bev and Dan, it goes far beyond the stakes wins and pictures in the Winner’s Circle. “The participation with others, the fun competition, the people you get to meet, giving back to others,” Bev and Dan said in agreement. “Shall we go on?”

As if owning horses didn’t keep them busy enough, Dan served as President of the Minnesota HBPA and the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association. He was also co-founder of both the Minnesota Festival of Champions and Claiming Crown.

From being present when Canterbury Downs opened to owning stakes winner Hoist Her Flag, the Mjolsness family has had quite the ride. Currently, they own 3-year old filly Javacandy. After the filly is finished racing, their remarkable journey will come to an end, but the accomplishments and memories will last them far longer.

Puntsville Tries For Third Hoist Her Flag Win

The accomplished race mare Puntsville will return to Canterbury Park for the third time, with her connections hoping to win the $50,000 Hoist Her Flag Stakes for the third consecutive time. The Hoist Her Flag is the first of five stakes races and the fourth of 11 races, on Saturday night’s Northern Stars Racing Festival program. First post is 5:15 p.m.  Total stakes purses are $500,000, with the Mystic Lake Derby offering $200,000 alone.

“They changed the dates at Arlington so I was forced to ship to Prairie Meadows to get a race,” Puntsville’s trainer Michele Boyce said. For the past two years, the now 7-year-old Illinois bred has run in the Isaac Murphy Handicap prior to the Hoist Her Flag victories. She won that state bred race in 2018 and was second in 2017. On May 23 of this year Puntsville finished fourth in the Prairie Rose Stakes, 2 ¾ lengths behind the winner Lake Ponchatrain, who she must face again Saturday night.

“She is ready,” Boyce said.  Puntsville was turned out for the winter in Florida before returning to training. “She seems to thrive on that.”  Boyce would know. Puntsville has won more purse money for the trainer, $410,512, than any other in a career that began in 1995 at Sportsman’s Park in Cicero, Illinois. Puntsville will break from post five in the Hoist Her Flag under jockey Carlos Marquez, Jr. She is owned by S D Brille Ltd Partnership.

The field of nine in the six furlong main track sprint is deep in quality.

Minnesota bred Ari Gia has post two. The speedy mare was claimed for $6,250 on November 5, 2018 at Turf Paradise by trainer Jose Silva, Jr. and has since won six races and $107,196 in purses, including $30,000 in the May 18 lady Slipper Stakes.

“I think I’ve got her the best she’s ever been. She’s really good right now,” Silva said. Silva called his father, who taught him everything he knows, to seek input. “I called my dad to see what he thought. He said ‘You’ve got to try her.'” Leading jock Francisco Arrieta will be aboard as the mare seeks her fourth straight win at this meet.

Also entered is graded stakes winner Hotshot Anna, trained by Mac Robertson.  Lake Ponchatrain, winner of 20 of 48 starts, is the 5 to 2 morning line favorite.

Spring Steen is listed at 12 to 1 and speaks to the depth of this field based on an impressive race record. She has speed figures that match up with most in the race, all earned facing Oklahoma breds. Spring Steen is trained by Francisco Bravo. Bravo’s assistant trainer Scott Garrison, tending to business as the boss makes his way back to Minnesota from the Sooner State, is quite fond of the 4-year-old filly. “She is nice to be around. You might mistake her for the pony horse,” he said. “She’s as sweet as can be, until they open the starting gate.” Spring Steen has won four of seven races and $120,000 in purses for owner Michael Grossman. Those wins came the hard way, battling on the front end. Expect the filly to be in the mix from the start with Ry Eikleberry aboard.

Great Grays

By Noah Joseph

In the colorful world of horse racing, there is one piece that really sticks out; gray horses. It’s amazing to see them, considering that only about 4 percent of horses born are gray. Over the years, gray horses have made their presence felt at Canterbury.

By far, the most famous gray to run at Canterbury was Hoist Her Flag. The daughter of Aferd, Hoist Her Flag was the terror of the track, beating almost all her female foes and running against the best of the males. She won 19 times in 49 starts in career that lasted five years and was twice named Horse of the Meet. She has a race named after her every year at Canterbury.

Hoist Her Flag

This year’s Hoist Her Flag Stakes winner drew a striking resemblance to the race’s namesake. Puntsville, a gray daughter of Cashel Rock, won the race in a style similar to Hoist Her Flag. She broke on top, held the lead, and won going away, with her gray tail swaying and waving like a flag of victory. The Hoist Her Flag Stakes was the ninth career victory for Puntsville, along with her second win this year, and her third career stakes victory.

Puntsville

The appropriately named Skatingonthinice was a horse who looked like ice. Just like ice, she left usually left her competition slipping while she slid to victory. Twice, she did in stakes. In 1990, she won the Minneapolis Handicap at Canterbury. She was also a successful broodmare.

Lastly, most gray horses usually inherit their gray coats as they age, but one filly was born with it. Sentimental Charm inherited her ghostly look by her father, Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm, and her mother River Cache, an unraced daughter of Unbridled. Sentimental Charm was a successful runner, finishing in the top three 15 times in 17 starts, winning seven stakes. As a broodmare, she produced three foals, all gray, but only one raced at Canterbury. That was her daughter Sentiment Gray, sired by Holy Bull, who was also gray.

 

Owner Dan Mjolsness with Hoist Her Flag

PAST JOINS PRESENT ON SPECIAL DAY

BY JIM WELLS

For a couple of moments on Sunday, the past became the present, history became real time, and one of the grand dames of Minnesota racing history was alive on the track.

The long gray tail floated behind her in a steady breeze, and her rivals saw only clods of damp earth and her behind. She was first out of the gate and no one even drew abreast as she glided easily to the finish line under Victor Santiago.

A five-year-old gray mare named Puntsville floated through swift fractions to win the 25th running of the $50,000 Hoist Her Flag Stakes, named for the gray Canterbury Park Hall of Fame mare. Although perhaps a shade darker, Sunday’s winner bore striking resemblance to the two-time Canterbury Downs horse of the year.

“We were just saying that,” said Canterbury Park President/CEO Randy Sampson. “She’s a big good looking gray mare.”

Hoist Her Flag won 17 times from 43 starts in Shakopee and was named the outstanding horse on the grounds in 1987 and again in 1989.

Puntsville at 5/2 finished 3 ¼ lengths in front of 6/5 favorite Thoughtless and another 4 ½ head of Malibu Princess after setting all the fractions: 22.02, 44.79, 57.01 and 1:09.87.

“She’s very quick,” said Santiago, who had ridden the winner in nine of her previous 10 starts. “I was just praying to God that we would get a good quick jump.”

She did just that, and the race essentially was over.

The theme of the afternoon was hope and there were plenty of things covered under that umbrella. Hope that the sun would make an appearance, that the rain would hold off until the card was complete. There was, as always, hope at the windows as patrons placed their wagers, hope right up until a winner hit the finish line.

Despite iron-gray skies throughout the afternoon, there was plenty of pink throughout the premises on annual Fillies Race for Hope day, dedicated to the understanding, treatment and hope for eradication of breast cancer.

The feature event on the card annually is the Hoist Her Flag Stakes.

Messages promoting the theme of the day could be found throughout the grounds. The tote board from time to time advised the crowd that “Early Detection is Key.” There was a thank you message from the Fillies Race for Hope committee.

Valets to the riders wore shirts celebrating the occasion. The outriders and pony horses and their riders were festooned in pink accouterment, wraps, tack and other related items.

Raffles, drawings and donations contributed to the fund that supports this endeavor.

Patrons could be found in pink slacks, hats, dresses, shoes accompanied in some cases by pink purses. Employees in the Coady photography studio, the finest enterprise of its type in all of racing, wore pink suspenders and ties, did Shawn Coady and Senor Oscar Quiroz, who also helped work the gate at times without sullying his shirt or pink tie.

Coady was moved early in the day to loan his bowtie to a forgetful member of the Fourth Estate who arrived prepared to attack the day in conventional attire.

Pressbox magistrate Jeff Maday’s black suit was nattily set off with fashionably muted pink tie and cufflinks. Breast cancer survivors assembled in the paddock to offer thanks and encouragement in pink western hats and other attire.

A debate ensued over the true color of the dress worn by pressbox assistant Katie Merritt. Was it really pink or closer to coral?

Ultimately, it didn’t matter. It was in keeping with the colors and the spirit of the day.

Hoist Her Flag- Silks Of Red, White, and Blue

 

By Noah Joseph

It would be somewhat crazy not to write about a horse with a patriotic name with the Fourth of July coming up this Tuesday. One horse that raced at Canterbury had one of the most patriotic names, and was and still is one of the greatest to race in Minnesota; that horse was Hoist Her Flag.

A big grey, almost white, filly, she was sired by the unraced Aferd, who was sired by Hoist The Flag. Foaled in North Dakota in 1982, she was owned by Seven Springs Racing Partnership of Dan and Beverly Mjolsness and trained by Greg Markgraf. She raced in red silks with a white “SS” with blue sleeves.

In 1985 and 1986, Hoist Her Flag finished in the top three in 10 of 11 starts. She won six races in 1987, four of them stakes including two in six days and she beat the boys in one of them. She was also stakes-placed three times. In that time, she developed a rivalry with another fine mare named Lil Preppy. Hoist Her Flag picked up right where she left off the following year winning five races in 10 starts, including three stakes. She placed in two other stakes as well. Her final year of racing was 1989, in which she won four races in nine starts, all of them stakes. She retired that year after racing in Minnesota, Arkansas, Illinois, and Alabama and won 19 races, 11 of them stakes victories in 49 starts and earned almost $300,000.

As a broodmare, Hoist Her Flag had three foals, all daughters. While all three raced at Canterbury, her first foal, First Flag, by Woodman, was a multiple stakes winner like her mother. First Flag won two stakes, including the 1993 Northern Lights Debutante, held that year at Arlington Park. First Flag was Hoist Her Flag’s only foal to win a race, and the only one to ever win at Canterbury. She won an allowance race at Canterbury in 1995.

Hoist Her Flag is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall Of Fame. She was named Canterbury Horse of the Meet in 1987 and 1989. She and Heliskier (2012 and 2013) are the only two-time winners of that award.

Canterbury will race six consecutive days through July 4 beginning Thursday.

Noah Joseph is a longtime Canterbury Park and horse racing fan. He’s been attending races at Canterbury since 2000 when he was 3 years old and has enjoyed every minute of it. Noah provides a weekly piece on CanterburyLive.com.

CIARAN’S PRIZE FINISHES IN THE PINK

CIARAN'S PRIZE - Hoist Her Flag Stakes - 08-14-16 - R07 - CBY - Finish

By JIM WELLS

Western hats, feathered headgear, dresses, shawls, western boots, scarves, even gate passes, added a flourish of, what else, pink to the surroundings Sunday during the sixth annual Fillies Race for Hope, a day devoted to fund raising for and recognition of survivors of breast cancer.

Everywhere you care to look were combinations of pink. Canterbury employees, even the valets, wore pink tee shirts. Patrons spiced it up considerably more, with wide Kentucky Derby-style hats in pink as well as various other unusual combinations.

Even the feature race of the day was resurrected to provide a race featuring fillies only. The Hoist Her Flags stakes was scratched from the original stakes lineup this year but was brought back as an overnight $41,800 sprint and drew a field of 10, reduced to eight after scratches by Broadway Play and Donita’s Ruler.

The prerace conversation included mainly two horses, the bulk of the respect resting on Ball and Chain, a five-year-old daughter of Exchange Rate from I Luv U Nani, sent off at 4/5.

With a record of 6-1-0 from nine career starts, including six consecutive wins, she was tough to overlook and attracted the lion’s share of attention at the windows.

Ciaran’s Prize drew  high respect, as well and was sent off at 5/2, having hit the board 13 times in 21 starts with six wins and most earnings of the starters with $162,943.

That pretty much summed it up in the minds of several prognosticators, who expected those two to fight it out.

As it was, the trainer of Ciaran’s Prize, Joel Berndt, changed plans after Broadway Play and Bonita’s Ruler scratched.

“Without those two, we felt we needed to press the pace a little more,” said Berndt. “You gamble that you’ll have enough horse left if you do, but we did it and it worked.”

Indeed, Ciaran’s Prize, with Orlando Mojica in the irons, ran down the front-running and tiring favorite and finished ½ length in front of 32-1 choice Discreetly Grand, with another half length back to Ball and Chain. The winning time was 1:10.05.

The winning trophy was presented by Hall of Fame inductees Dan and Bev Mjolsness, who owned Hoist Her Flag, the Hall of Fame horse for whom the race is named.

Hoist Her Flag is among the best fillies or mares to race in Shakopee and was a crowd favorite in the  1980s.

It’s been described in numerous ways, but the tail that floated behind her like a windsock was her trademark, a distinguishing anatomical feature that served as a flag, very often a checkered flag.

She was referred to frequently as the Queen of Canterbury and was twice selected Horse of the Year, winning that honor in 1987 and 1989. She held that distinction alone until Heliskier was voted the track’s top horse in 2012 and 2013.

She broke her maiden at Canterbury Downs in its inaugural season, 1985, competing against top notch competition during a meet that attracted some of the best barns in the nation.

Television racing reporter Donna Barton was in the irons on Hoist for her last six starts and considered her one of the three best horses she rode. Other riders had similar sentiments.

One prominent turf writer expressed this opinion: “When the history of Canterbury Downs is written, the exploits of Hoist Her Flag will occupy an important chapter.”

Those opinions were reinforced by the Thoroughbred Times in 1989 which recognized Hoist Her Flag as one of the top 12 female sprinters in North American racing.

Her career statistics did nothing to detract from that opinion either. The Queen won 19 races, 17 of them at Canterbury Downs, including 11 stakes, and earned $290,849, finishing in the money 33 times from 43 career starts.

On Sunday, it was Ciaran’s  Prize that added her name to the list of winners in this race. On this particular day, it was this five-year-old daughter of Yes It’s  Time that finished in the pink.

Holiday Mischief wins John Bullit Stakes; Flower Spell wins Hoist Her Flag

JBHHF_600x300

by Annise Montplaisir

The John Bullit Stakes was narrowed from a six-horse field to four after the scratches of Breezy Point and Evert. It was anyone’s guess who would show their supremacy and take the $40,000 purse. AZ Ridge attempted to seek revenge against Stachys, who defeated him by two and a half lengths in the Mystic Lake Mile. But it was the favorite Holiday Mischief, piloted by Canterbury’s leading rider Alex Canchari, who demonstrated his dominance over the one mile and 1/16 distance.

Holiday Mischief broke well and bided his time behind pace-setter AZ Ridge. Canchari rode out the race with an elusive strategy worthy of his horse’s namesake.

“I played it by the start and I saw he put pressure on me soon,” Canchari said. “So I just stayed on the rail, and waited for it and then I put myself in position so he couldn’t shut me out when he needed to.”

Holiday Mischief whizzed under the wire in a time of 1:44.890, granting glory to trainer Joe Offolter and ownership group Joe Offolter & Carter Thoroughbreds LLC. AZ Ridge finished second, followed by Stachys in third. Holiday Mischief, the wagering favorite, paid $4.00 to win.

Flower Spell, owned by Dare to Dream Stable LLC, Little Bear Racing Stables and trainer Ingrid Mason, was ridden to victory by renowned jockey Rosemary Homeister, Jr. in the $40,000 Hoist Her Flag Overnight Stakes.

Coming off a second place finish in the Chicago Handicap (Gr. 3) at Arlington Park, Flower Spell was tuned and ready. The pack broke well, with Flower Spell dropping back to second behind early leader Makinmymark. Rounding the far turn Janis’s Joy attempted a challenge along the rail.

“When the one horse started to come up the inside I thought oh shoot,” said Homeister. “When she felt that horse coming [Flower Spell] re-broke again. She’s a very game filly.”

Crossing the finish line in a time 1:10.94, Flower Spell edged out Janis’s Joy 3/4 of a length. Makinmymark finished third. As the prohibitive favorite, Flower Spell returned $3.40 to win. 

Fillies Race for Hope

Second%20Street%20City%20-%20Hoist%20Her%20Flag%20Stakes%20-%2008-17-13%20-%20R07%20-%20CBY%20-%20Inside%20FinishPink hats, dresses, flowers, horses. Even little girls in pink wings. The starting gate was festooned in pink, and the scroll designating the type of race on the tote board television screen was the same color. It was Fillies Race for Hope day at Canterbury Park, an annual event to raise awareness and money for the support of families fighting breast cancer.

A contest was conducted for the best-dressed horse in pink and the best pink hat.

On the racing front, the card included the $30,900 Hope Bonus Challenge for quarter horses, and two stakes for thoroughbreds, the $50,000 Hoist Her Flag and $50,000 Minnesota HBPA Distaff.

On a day of outright pinkness, anyone who took a tip from Captain Mark Ott wound up in the pink as well.

Although the money was largely on Stacy Charette-Hill’s horse, Corono Mit Go, in the Hope Bonus Challenge, Ott broke with what has been tradition all summer whenever Ms. Charette-Hill saddles a horse.

“There’s going to be an upset in this one,” he said. “Take it to the bank.”

Betting against Charette-Hill this summer has been akin to lunacy. Not this time, and the Ottman called it.

Had there been a pink-dress contest, one of Canterbury Park’s own, paddock analyst Angela Hermann, would have fared well if not stolen the award outright in a brilliant lace creation that appeared fuchsia in color but was labeled Shocking R (rose?). A $650 item that Ms Hermann testified under oath was purchased on sale.

HOIST HER FLAG STAKES

This race was named in honor of the track’s only two-time horse of the year, and included a rodeo before post time.

That incident resulted in the scratching of Hot Body, which reduced the field to six starters.

It turned into a one-horse race for first, and a one-horse race for second.

The winner was Second Street City, pictured above, with Denny Velazquez winning his first career stake race in a rout. Second Street finished 7 ¼ lengths in front of Missjeanlouise, who was 7 ½ lengths better than Tessie Flip. The winning time was 1:10.08.

Velazquez was completing his post-race interview as he headed to the jockey lounge, his attention focused on the person beside him inquiring about the race.

When he looked up, valet Nate Quinonez was waiting with a bucket of water to greet the first-time stake winner. “Oh, hell, no,” Velazquez yelped as he tried to outrun the dousing to no avail. There was more to come when he reached the jockey lounge.

Second Street City was not involved in the rodeo exhibition that preceded the race.

The jockeys had just mounted their horses in the paddock and began their walk around the ring. Cruzette, with Justin Shepherd up, froze, causing a traffic backup. Next in line, Scott Stevens dismounted. His horse, Tiz Roses, made an attempt to hit the infield but was quickly apprehended. But one slot back, Hot Body, with Anne Von Rosen up, bolted to the side and crashed through the fence surrounding the paddock walking ring. She was scratched from the race, examined later by track veterinarian Lynn Hovda and given a clean bill of health.

HBPA DISTAFF

A field of seven lined up for this 1 1/16 mile event on the turf, but it belonged entirely to Starry Eyed Kate under a gutsy ride from Alex Canchari after they took charge on the turn and refused to give up the rail or the lead.

Quinichette and Dean Butler tried but faded to fifth. Grandma’s Rules tried too with a spirited stretch charge, but the winner outlasted that one by a neck.

The stake win was the fourth at Canterbury Park for the young rider this summer. He also won the Manitoba Derby and a stake at Oaklawn Park. It was also a positive way to serve out the remainder of a four-day suspension that began on Friday but was not enforced for stake race commitments.

The winner is trained by Mac Robertson and owned by Hugh Robertson and Barry Butzow.

Butzow extolled the manner in which Canchari took aspects of the race into account as they unfolded.

“The pace was slow (51.24 and 1:15.52) so he decided to just sit there on the rail,” said Butzow. “He’s a good little rider.”

On the rail?

“Yeah, I was skimming it,” said Canchari.

QUARTER HORSE HOPE BONUS CHALLENGE

Glory on the racetrack is a fleeting commodity, there one instant and gone the next.

Nobody knows it better than trainer Kasey Willis of Colman, Okla., who has lost a few matchups this summer in Shakopee to trainer Stacy Charette-Hill.

“It’s nice to get one back,” he said after the $30,900 Fillies and Mares Race for Hope Bonus Challenge at 400 yards.

How about finishing one-two, as Glory Rider and Dreamwideopen did for Willis on Saturday.

Willis and Charette-Hill compete at many of the same racetracks, so they’ve beaten and lost to one another on numerous occasions.

Willis wasn’t quite sure what to expect from his two starters. It might have ended up the other way around.

Dreamwideopen has the same dam, This Dreams Flying, as does another horse familiar to Canterbury folks, the Amber Blair-trained Hes Relentless, the fastest qualifier for the $2.6 million All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs this weekend.

But on Saturday it was Glory Rider under Agustin Silva who covered the 400 yards in 20.32, a head in front of his stablemate, who had a neck on the third-place horse, Corona Mit Go, trained by Charette-Hill.

“She stumbled a bit (out of the gate),” said Silva, “but she righted herself and went on with it.”

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.

Field Set for Dark Star Cup

Dark CheeringHis face is emblazoned on the wall in a larger than life photo as you enter the press box, now named in his memory. The photo is from the early days of Canterbury Downs and he is dressed to fit a specific role, that of racetrack regular, man about town, high roller, someone riding life on the edge.

The right hand is raised in a fist, the other hand sunk deep into the pocket of his trousers anchored to a trim lean body by suspenders that flank the perfectly chosen tie, with an unbuttoned sport coat supporting an intense look of support for – what else could it have been – his horse.

From appearances, the picture might have been taken in a studio, captured for the ages in the instant after a photographer said ‘say cheese’ or, also likely, taken moments after the man noticed a camera pointed his way. It is hard to tell what’s real and what is not.

After all, the man in question here is Dark Star.

Also known as George Chapple.

Handicapper, sports expert, a bon vivant full of bons mots.

On Saturday, Canterbury Park will feature the $50,000 Dark Star Cup, a 6 and 1/2 furlong sprint for three-year-olds and older. During its five previous runnings, from 1985 through 1989, this race was known as the Chaucer Cup, a nod to literary royalty that was part of the glorious presentation that attended those heady first years of Minnesota racing.

George ‘Dark Star’ Chapple was part of it. It is possible he was present for each of the Chaucer Cup’s five runnings. Even if he wasn’t, he was.

His hijinks and practical jokes are the stuff of press box legend at Canterbury. People occasionally found the dinner missing that only moments before they placed on the table in front of them. A desk drawer might be left open purposely where a person would clearly run into it, inflicting intense pain to an upper thigh. Notes of a dubious nature might be left beneath the windshield wipers of a press box regular. On one occasion a young press box intern mistakenly seated herself upon the copy machine only to have her bottom half photographed for widespread distribution.

Such is the stuff of press box legend. But the Dark Man’s lasting legacy to racing was his nonstop support of the sport in whatever capacity he worked. The Dark Man might know absolutely nothing about a given subject, but could sell it nonetheless. Racing he sold, every chance he got: As a handicapper at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, as a WCCO radio host or as a guy at the races, at Canterbury Downs and then Park, living the role.

Dark Star was born George Chapple on April 20, 1946. He joined a pantheon of great race horses on June 1, 2012, among them “Dark Star,” the upset winner of the 1953 Kentucky Derby.

It is said that every racetrack has its special characters. Dark Star was one of Canterbury’s.

It is probably no coincidence that the Chaucer Cup, now the Dark Star Cup, produced some dandies.

In 1985, a horse name Taylor’s Special, trained by Bill Mott, owned by William Lukas and ridden by Pat Day,won the inaugural running of the race. Lukas was Canterbury’s leading owner that inaugural summer. Who was he? The retired president and CEO of Brown-Borman Distiller, located in Louisville, Ky., of course.

The next summer, Forkintheroad secured a place as one of Canterbury’s early stars by winning the second running of the race. Trained by the legendary Jack Van Berg, owned by Minnesota Gordon Molitor and ridden by Jerry Bailey, Forkintheroad nosed out Aggies Best at 12-1 and was later named Canterbury’s Horse of the Year.

Don’s Irish Melody won the first of two consecutive Chaucer Cups in 1987, defeating Superroyale by 3/4 of a length.

The 1988 race (video below) was one of the best in track history after a thrilling stretch run, with the Melody pushing his nose in front of Who Doctor Who at the wire. The final time of 1:14 was only 1/5 second off the world record for the distance at the time. Don’s Irish Melody, the pace-setter, ran the first six furlongs in that race in 1:07 flat, nearly an entire second faster than the current six-furlong track record.

The 1989 Chaucer Cup had its own special touch. Reduced from $150,000 to $75,000 after a dramatic purse cut that summer, the race was nonetheless among the best in track history after Split Rock at 27-1 shifted gears in the final 150 yards and caught Orphan Kist in a dead heat.

Trailing by 14 lengths on the backstretch, by 8 1/2 at the half-mile pole and by five at the quarter pole, Split Rock had the grandstand in a tizzy. Two lengths back was Hoist Her Flag, Canterbury’s only two-time Horse of the Year.

The real winner that day was Dark Star, who had the daily double, the triple and the pick six in addition to the exacta on the Chaucer Cup.

Or maybe not.

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.

Duke Deluxe Notches 12th Canterbury Win

Trainers like Canterbury Park for their reasons, jockeys for theirs and now it appears that horses, too, like the racetrack for reasons revealed with a simple glance at their PPs. Look no further than Thursday’s first race and the No. 2 horse, an eight-year-old gelding named Duke Deluxe.

Duke is mad about Canterbury and here is the proof:

With a late burst from his eight-year-old lungs, Duke ran down Royal Express and won for the 12th time – by, oh, the width of a nostril.

He has 12 career wins, six seconds and eight thirds from 61 career starts.

Not eye-catching numbers for any specific reason, unless you take a closer look at those PPs. Duke has 12 career wins. A 13th, in mid May, came at the Brown County Fair in South Dakota in an unrecognized race and is not included in his Daily Racing Form list of wins.

Twelve wins, all at Canterbury Park. He clearly likes this racetrack. Couldn’t win at six other tracks, only Canterbury.

A gelded son of Touch Gold, Duke Deluxe is tied with four horses for wins at Canterbury behind three other horses. Two Hall of Fame thoroughbreds – Hoist Her Flag, a two-time Horse of the Year, and John Bullit lead the list with 17 wins. Crocrock is next with 14. Sir Tricky, Texas Trio, Day Timer and Stock Dividend also have 12.

Moments after Duke’s win under Nik Goodwin on Thursday, Deb Bonn was on the cell phone from Canterbury to her daughter Amber,20, back in Aberdeen, S.D. Amber is half owner in the horse that the family refers to as “College Fund.”

Amber has jobs at two restaurants to pay her way through beauty college, but her share of the winnings from Thursday’s win will help considerably. “You can quit one of those jobs,” her mother told her.

Randy Bonn, who has been at Canterbury as an owner or trainer every year since 1985, bought the horse for his cousin, Jeff Boon, and daughter, Amber, in Phoenix last March and sent him to trainer Larry Donlin at Grand Island, Neb., for vetting.

They turned the horse out for 60 days, ran him twice in the South Dakota bushes and then debuted him Thursday in Shakopee, where he was sent off at 10-1, despite his history over this racetrack.

Duke Deluxe broke his maiden at Canterbury on June 21, 2007 in his sixth career start and is 12-3-1 from 21 starts in Shakopee.

Bob Lindgren owned him for three wins four years ago. “Bobbie Grissom called me about him,” Lindgren said. “She told me that the horse didn’t like the hard surface in Phoenix, but that he always did well here.”

A bit of an understatement, to say the least.

A GOODWIN HAT TRICK

Call it a blog boost, a blog bounce or merely a coincidence, but Nik Goodwin had a bang-up night on Thursday’s card.

The 36-year-old native Minnesotan was profiled in a blog story this week, and promptly responded by winning three races on Thursday’s card.

Goodwin won the opening race on the card with Duke Deluxe, the fourth race with Supremo Struckgold and the seventh with Thepointman.

He has 11 wins and is tied for fifth in the rider standings.

He leads the quarter horse standings with some amazing numbers. He has 11 wins, six more than any other rider. He has an amazing 11 wins and 12 seconds from 24 starts.

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.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography