Training continues at Canterbury Park each day on both the main and training surfaces beginning at 6 a.m. With more than 1,000 horses, mostly thoroughbreds, on the grounds there is continual activity until the 10:30 a.m. close. Anyone with the ability to gallop or proclivity to be a groom or hot walker could begin employment tomorrow. The daily list of workouts is impressive as trainers prepare their stock for opening night June 10. Entries will be taken Friday with nine races, including the Cam Casby quarter horse stake, in the condition book.
This time of year brings horsemen back together often for the first time in many months. The reply to the traditional question of ‘How ya doing?’ varies greatly. But from observation, one could summarize the answers by saying that they are each doing the best they can considering the way they have conducted business for years has in several ways gone off kilter. It is human nature to question rules that are out of the norm but participants in this sport know that they need to be smart and do what is right, responsible and respectful. The end goal is to fire up the economic engine of purse distribution and that won’t happen until the gates pop for the opening race at 4:30 p.m. one week from today.
Trainers still watch from the rail as horses work or gallop but they stand apart, wear masks, coming and going quickly. Riders on horseback often drop the mask while on the track and distant from others but that is a practical matter. One rider commented that it is indeed difficult to breathe while working a horse in the heat of the morning wearing a face covering. The overriding theme is safety and the measures taken to get there adapt to the situations regardless of the occupation.
Jockey agents are not allowed in the barn area. They now conduct business by phone and meet on the road outside the stable gate or on the first turn of the main track. They are in the relationship business, normally working face to face, barn to barn, to get mounts for their riders. That practice for the time being has changed. “It would be easier to make connections in person,” Chad Anderson, agent for Dean Butler and Francisco Arietta, said. Anderson fortunately has two established riders that will have no difficulty getting mounts. New riders can be found in the stable area greeting trainers and offering their services in hopes of generating business. There should be plenty of that business according to Anderson. “Trainers are ready to race not just train. We will have no trouble filling races this first week.”
Bernell Rhone finds the jockey colony to be quite competitive. “You can go at least eight deep and not see a difference,” the veteran trainer said. Rhone is optimistic about the meet as well. The main track is in good shape he says and the fact that the meet is delayed, giving the turf course more of a chance to develop roots, will in the long run be an advantage. “Normally by now we would have been pounding on it. Starting now will help [the turf].We are going to need it to have full fields.”