Tom DiPasquale to Retire; Minnesota Seeks New Executive Director

MRC Press Release

SHAKOPEE, Minn. (November 22, 2019) –Tom DiPasquale, Executive Director of the Minnesota Racing Commission since 2013, announced his intention to step down in February 2020.

“It’s been an honor to serve in this capacity in the Dayton and Walz Administrations. During this period, the Commission, through the hard work of staff and with the support of industry stakeholders and government leaders, achieved significant reforms that have enhanced the safety and integrity of racing in Minnesota and helped grow the industry,” DiPasquale said.

DiPasquale

The Commission gained passage of three reform bills and updated or eliminated numerous obsolete rules during DiPasquale’s tenure. Legislative approval of advanced deposit wagering in 2016, shepherded by DiPasquale, brought increased revenues to owners, breeders, racetracks and the Commission. The same legislation provided increased funding to support responsible aftercare programs for retired race horses.

Notably, the Commission completed an economic impact study in 2016, the first of its kind since 1990, which showed the wide-ranging and beneficial impact of the racing and breeding industry throughout Minnesota’s diverse economy. “The industry is deserving of ongoing, and even increasing, support in order to create jobs and drive economic growth,” said DiPasquale.

“Tom has earned another shot at retirement,” quipped Chairman Jim Lane, a good-natured reference to DiPasquale’s retirement as assistant general counsel at 3M Company prior to his appointment to the Commission in 2013. Lane added, “On behalf of all Commission members and staff, we wish Tom and his wife Rosanne good health and happiness in the months and years ahead. He leaves with our profound thanks for a job well done.”

The search for DiPasquale’s successor has begun. Applicants may apply via http://bit.ly/MRCJob and enter keyword 37117.

About the Minnesota Racing Commission

The Minnesota Racing Commission operates in the public interest to ensure the integrity of horse racing and card playing, to oversee the proper distribution of funds back into the industry, and to provide for the safety and welfare of the human and equine participants. The Commission works to promote the horse racing and breeding industry in Minnesota in order to provide economic stimulus, offer residents and visitors an exciting entertainment option, and support agriculture and rural agribusiness. Visit www.mrc.state.mn.us for more information.

Canterbury Park Seeks 65 Race Days For 2020 Season

Meet planned for May 15 through Sept. 12; MRC approval expected in December

Canterbury Park officials have submitted a 2020 racing dates request to the Minnesota Racing Commission asking for approval of a 65-day season beginning May 15 and concluding Sept. 12. Canterbury Park, located in Shakopee, Minn., is the state’s only thoroughbred and quarter horse racetrack. The MRC is expected to act on the request at its Dec. 19 commission meeting.

The proposed 2020 season will begin twelve days later than the recently concluded 2019 season that ran 66 days. Track officials made the decision to forgo racing on Kentucky Derby weekend, which includes the first Saturday in May, as it has done for the past three years and begin mid-month in order to attract more stables with race-ready horses for the beginning of the meet.

Andrew Offerman

“Having horses on site that are ready to race is always a challenge in early May, especially when Kentucky Derby Day falls early this year on May 2,” Vice President of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “Pushing our meet back two weeks to coincide with the Preakness will allow our horse population, which winters in Arizona, Florida, Texas, and throughout the South, more time to get ready to race at Canterbury. This should result in better field size and better wagering opportunities for our guests.”

Kentucky Derby Day, with or without live racing, has historically attracted more wagering dollars at Canterbury than any other date on the calendar. Offerman expects that to be true again in 2020.

Purses are anticipated to exceed $14 million, at approximately $225,000 per day, an amount equal to 2019. A cooperative marketing and purse enhancement agreement reached with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, owners and operators of nearby Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, in 2012 will again supplement purses. The agreement extends through 2022 with more than $83 million going toward purse supplements and joint marketing of the two properties.

On the calendar is a proposed one-week break in the racing season when Canterbury hosts Twin Cities Summer Jam for the second time. The three-day music festival, July 23-25, is held in the track infield. Twin Cities Summer Jam officials today announced that Zac Brown Band will headline July 24 with the remaining acts to be announced Dec. 4.

Countdown to the Cup Contest Continues Saturday

With Breeders’ Cup just weeks away, it pays to handicap the prep races at major tracks across the country to be ready for Nov. 1 and 2.

Countdown to the Cup, the free-to-enter handicapping contest that features the best horses on the way to the 2019 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, pays weekly cash prizes and overall bonuses to the top players.

Keeneland opens its Fall meet Friday, and Saturday the Countdown to the Cup Contest includes the entire Keeneland card with its two graded stakes plus from Belmont the Champagne Stakes, Hill Prince Stakes, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, and Matron Stakes. Entry deadline this week is noon. Countdown to the Cup continues October 12 and 19.

Simply select one horse in each race and submit your entry card at the Clubhouse Information desk. Points will be awarded based on a mythical $20 across the board bet. A cap limits the points you can earn on a single race to 600 / 400 / 200.  Of course you must be 18 to play. Entrants must have an MVP Rewards card to play and can sign-up for membership and receive the card instantly at the MVP desk in the main entrance. There are also minimum wager requirements to receive full prize value.

Weekly Prizes for Top Scores:

1st:  $200 Breeders’ Cup Bankroll

($20 if minimum not met)

2nd-5th: $100 Breeders’ Cup Bankroll

($10 if minimum not met)

Overall Prizes for Top Accumulated Scores:

1st – 5th: $100 Breeders’ Cup Bankroll

($10 if minimum not met)

If you would like to reserve a clubhouse table for Breeders’ Cup visit here for the details and reserve online.

Strangis Operated At Racing’s Helm

By Jim Wells

Ralph Strangis typically impressed newly-made acquaintances the same way:  ” What a nice guy,” they would say.

As they got to know him, those impressions expanded: “Never met anyone like him, so gracious, understanding and knowledgeable.”

Those who really knew him understood even more:

“So smart, what a businessman, what a head for the law.”

Yet, only the men and women in Minnesota’s horse racing industry understood his role in a Minnesota Racing Commission decision that they largely agreed saved the sport in Minnesota.

It is standard practice to eulogize a person in glowing terms and disregard the blemishes, yet that was not the case with Strangis, who died last August. He was a person friends, acquaintances and family described in the same terms they used when he was alive.  Except, perhaps, for his own children, who had their private definition as youngsters. “We referred to him as a benevolent dictator,” said son Paul.

Strangis was a highly respected attorney, husband, father, grandfather and a racing fan to boot. He was a horse owner during the early days of Canterbury Downs and thereafter whenever he wasn’t serving two separate terms on the Minnesota Racing Commission, helping usher out the Ladbroke Racing Corp. in 1992, after it became clear that horse racing in Minnesota would not survive under that ownership.

“Really one of his remarkable accomplishments as a regulator was the leadership and ability he provided to back down Ladbroke,” said Canterbury Park CEO Randy Sampson. “It took a strong leader to take them on and let them know that the Racing Commission was not going to bend the rules and allow simulcasting without a commitment to live racing.”

Strangis’ unique style in a meeting was lauded by almost anyone in attendance and by the participants themselves. Time was of the essence to orderly discussion, and he demonstrated that repeatedly by preventing distractions from obtaining a foothold.

“I really liked that about him,” Sampson added. “I’ve never seen a guy run a meeting more efficiently than he did. It was remarkable how he could keep a meeting on track and keep it moving.”

The fifth race on Sunday has been dedicated to Strangis and will be run in his honor. He died last August at the age of 82. Among his survivors are his wife, Grace; children, Ralph, Jr., Paul, Jason and Anthea and his stepchildren, Sara Grace and Nathan, several grandchildren and countless friends and business associates.

Strangis had been a racing fan much of his life when the sport was ushered in for Minnesotans with the arrival of Canterbury Downs in 1985, and he was among the early horse owners who frequented the new facility to cheer on the stars of their stables.

Cachuma was a fan favorite in the 1980s, owned by Thoroughbreds, Inc., which included Minnesota Vikings general manager Mike Lynn, automobile dealer Jim Lupient and Strangis.

Cachuma ran with his head down, a distinguishing feature fans came to recognize and appreciate, particularly in the final sixteenth when his unique style was all the more on display.

“We all made money on Cachuma,” said Paul Strangis. “Win after win.”

Later, Ralph Strangis was involved as an owner with a Tom Metzen partnership .

Paul is still involved in racing as an owner, his love for the sport nurtured at the Southern California tracks as a youngster during trips there with his father and siblings.

“He was uniquely qualified (as a commissioner and later chairman) with his love of the sport,” said Sampson. “He always did what was right for the backside people and the horse. He made a unique contribution to horse racing, as chairman, and as an owner.”

Strangis was prohibited from owning horses while serving on the commission, but quickly reengaged when his terms expired, having helped regulate the sport with a participant’s understanding.

Jim Lane III, the acting chairman of the commission, got to know Strangis before serving on the commission with him. Lane, an attorney himself, was working at the time with North Ridge Farm and the late Franklin Groves, an Eclispse Award winning breeder, and trainer Carl Nafzger.

“I knew him (Strangis) as a horse owner and active participant along with Tom Metzen,” Lane said. “Ralph knew the racing business and liked it and was therefore a better informed regulator than perhaps people not exposed to racing.”

Strangis had other strengths that Lane says directed decisions in which he participated. “He was very interested in the two tracks (Canterbury Park and Running Aces) and their financial strength,” Lane added.  “He was a wonderful businessman and attorney.”

Strangis, in fact, was described in certain accounts as the “legal architect” of Target Field for the Minnesota Twins and Allianz Field, home to the Minnesota United soccer team.

Strangis designated Lane as first vice chairman of the racing commission after becoming chairman and he continued in that role until Strangis died last year. Lane has been the acting chairman since.

Lane recalls two “big” problems “percolating” when Strangis rejoined the commission five or six years ago. “The purse underpayment at Running Aces and the dispute between that track and the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association regarding the financial agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community,” he said. “Ralph was instrumental in solving both problems,” said Lane. “Those things tend to be forgotten.”

Commissioner Alan Gingold first met Strangis in 1973. “He was representing the company I worked for (Piper Jaffrey and Hopwood),” Gingold said.

“He was an extraordinary man, 70 percent lawyer, 70 percent businessman and 70 percent community activist.”

Gingold grew to know Strangis in new ways upon serving with him on the Commission. “He had a natural love for racing, the beauty of racing and the horses, which is true of most of the commissioners. They love horses,” Gingold said.

Gingold also cited Strangis’ ability to get people together, talking and solving their problems.

His appreciation for Strangis, having known him four and one-half decades might  best be summed up in these comments:

“I think about him every day,” Gingold said. “He was larger than life, and I don’t expect to meet anybody like him.”

A Winning Gait Requires Harmony In The Gate

BY JIM WELLS

Can you scoff at danger and inevitable injury, laugh off what happened twenty minutes earlier and focus on what’s about to take place? Can you forget about a throbbing leg kicked earlier in the day or an aching shoulder that acts up every time you lift an arm?

Can you do all of that and more despite wondering deep down why you do the job in the first place?

If yes, then you might be able to work the starting gate.

Race fans are aware of the gate crew’s presence mostly on a peripheral level, their attention typically focused on the horses as they load, theirs in particular, and then on the stall doors just before the field’s release.

Was it a clean break? Or did mine stumble and spring late from the gate?

The crew was doing it’s damndest to assure an equitable break for all, but they appear as mere figures in matching uniforms to fans whose focus is primarily on their betting interests.

The gate crew is charged also with the safety of horse and rider in a confined metal stall, yet plays mostly an obscure role and exists typically at the edge of our awareness in the hurry-scurry process of loading horses and the break thereafter.

The job is often described as the most dangerous at the racetrack, pitting a human being against an animal five times larger and infinitely stronger, an eleven-hundred pound animal, or more, capable of flipping over backward or worse within very narrow confines.

Horses have been known to leave one stall for another, catapult from one stall to the next or worse, their flailing, kicking legs capable of inflicting real damage on anything in the way.

There is reason the individuals who do these jobs are required to wear helmets and flak jackets. Yet, none of that would have helped a member of the Canterbury Downs crew in the late 1980s that was killed after slipping from the gate as it was pulled away in front of the grandstand. The death of Bobby Compton created changes in policy at tracks around the country. Crew members were prohibited thereafter from riding in stalls as the gate was being transported.

Darrin Hall (second from right) and Oscar Quiroz (right) prior to a race

Darrin Hall is the starter at Canterbury Park and works the gate at Turf Paradise in Phoenix during the autumn and winter meets. He has been doing this kind of work since he outgrew the jockey profession.

He has brothers, two older, two younger, who do or did the same thing and recalls making a statement to one of them after his first few days on the job. “Why would anybody do this for a living?” he asked.

That was in 1984.

Yet, here he is, and with stories his younger colleagues never tire of hearing.

Hall began his career during a time when 12-horse fields were commonplace, increasing chances for mayhem at the gate with every race. He got his start in Wyoming but has spent the last three decades in Arizona, where he works Turf Paradise after originally working the former Yavapai Downs meet in Prescott, where he witnessed perhaps the all-time episode of his career.

The incident was extreme. A horse flipped over in the gate and was turned the wrong way before jumping onto the back of the horse in the next stall. Then he began pawing the horse next door. From the No. 6 hole into the No. 7 to the No. 8, before bounding over the tailgate and out of the stall.

Tahitian Tease: hard to forget a horse like that. “The trainer remarked that she was feeling a little spunky that day,” Hall recalled. “Well….if you want to call it that.”

Oscar Quiroz, an Arizona native, has worked previously in Prescott, Rillito Park in Tucson and spends his autumns and winters the last few years on the gate at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.

Hall recalls Quiroz’s first episode with a flipping horse in the gate. “Welcome to the NFL,” he told him.

Quiroz was trapped once in a stall with a fractious horse. “With its head alone, that horse threw me into the next stall,” he said. “And I’m not a small person.”

Suffice to say Oscar weighs in at, oh, NFL lineman standards.

A recent gate incident left Quiroz limping for a few days after a horse pinned his thigh to the metal wall of the stall with its leg while he avoided getting kicked by grabbing the horse’s hoof with a free hand.

Gate Crew prayer with Pastor Ed Underwood prior to first post.

Jake Barton retired from riding two years ago and almost immediately hooked up with Hall, a friend since boyhood, on the crew in Phoenix.

“If you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best,” he explained. “Darrin’s been at this a long time and knows what he’s doing.”

Barton compares this work with what a rodeo clown does in his arena, keeping the rider safe especially when he can’t help himself, after a horse has reared and perhaps trapped him in the stall. Typically, a rider gets thrown out the back of the gate when a horse flips, but sometimes he gets lodged between the horse and the walls or back gate or, worse yet, underneath the horse.

“It’s our job to get between him and the horse then,” Barton explained. “To make sure he’s okay.”

Barton says he’s been hurt more often as a rider than he has since joining the Phoenix gate crew two years ago, but knows injuries are part of the job nonetheless.

“Sometimes we might have to take one for the rider if a horse flips,” he said. “That’s just part of the job.”

At the same time, he says that all riders should have to work the gate at some time to learn that aspect of the job, to better understand what a gateman goes through.

“Basically,” he says, “we’re in there to babysit the horse so they can get the best break possible, and to keep that rider safe.”

Sometimes a gateman has to assist one of his colleagues, help him out of an impossible situation. The one time, for example, that a horse had a leg over Quiroz and pinned in the stall. “Big O’s three times my size and he couldn’t get out,” Barton said. “That tells you what kind of force you’re playing with in there. There’s no give when you get slapped between a horse and a steel wall.”

Races are sometimes altered by what transpires in the gate. “If a horse flips in a gate, he should be scratched, ”said Hall. “He’s already run his race the way I see it.  If a horse throws a fit in the gate, he’s already run half a race. He won’t run his best.”

Brian Brock’s transition to working the gate came somewhat differently than many of the hands with whom he works. He grew up in Washington and his father rode at Hastings Race Track in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“I was at the racetrack from the time I was a little kid,” he said. “Washing tubs and water buckets, eventually hot-walking horses.”

Brock, who wrestled at 145 pounds, was too big to ride, but he did eventually find work at Turf Paradise nine years ago grooming horses for trainer Valorie Lund. He began working the gate two years ago and says there is an emotional element to the job.

“It’s sort of an adrenaline rush,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to explain, but it is a bit of a high. There is just you and that horse….trying to get along.”

So far, so good. No serious injuries.

“Nothing major,” he said. “Shoulder, foot stomped on, soreness.”

He had one thrashing about that threw him against the tailgate last winter but was able regain his feet on the pontoons on each side of the stall. The job requires rigorous safety awareness down to the finest detail.

On a trip in the pickup to the gate during a recent race card at Canterbury, Dillon Lynn stopped the vehicle to pick up a paper cup that had found its way to the racetrack.

It’s thoroughness with this job…safety first.  Any distraction on the course can spell mayhem if a galloping horse shies into the path of a horse next to him or tries to jump an object.

At the very least, it could affect the outcome of a race.

A clean break is often only the start of a clean trip.

Now Playing: A Canterbury Classic

By Noah Joseph

Over the years, Canterbury has had some powerful Minnesota bred horses, especially during the early 2000s. Horses like Crocrock, Bleu Victoriate, Nidari, and J.P Jet were winning everything in sight. While those names come up in conversation frequently in local racing circles, one name is often forgotten. That horse is Now Playing.

Now Playing was bred in Minnesota by his owners Art and Gretchen Eaton. He was sired by Senor Speedy, a multiple graded stakes winner in the early 90s who also competed in the Breeders’ Cup. Now Playing’s dam, Easter Morn, was also a homebred by the Eatons, who had owned and bred horses for years on their Leanin’ Tree Farm in Randolph. Now Playing won his debut at Canterbury in July of 2000 by three lengths with Derek Bell aboard. Bell continued to ride Now Playing to many of his victories. Now Playing then finished 2nd in the MTA Stallion Auction Laddie Stakes before winning his first stakes race, the Northern Lights Futurity.

As a three year old in 2001, Now Playing won the Minnesota Derby as the favorite and was second in the Vic Myers Stakes. Now Playing had a disappointing four year-old season, winning just one race, but it would be a key turning point in his career. He won his first race on the grass, and as he got older, the more Now Playing loved the turf. At age five, Now Playing won three times on the lawn, including the Minnesota Turf Championship. Now Playing made a sequel the next year by winning the Minnesota Turf Championship again. It would be his last career victory, as he failed to win at ages seven and eight. He retired in 2006.

All in all, Now Playing won nine times from forty starts, including four stakes victories. He finished in the money eighteen times, and retired with earnings of over $143,000.In the end, Now Playing’s career was two thumbs, or two hooves, up.

Seabiscuit and 15 Minutes of Fame

BY JIM WELLS

Remember Seabiscuit? If you’re a racing fan, you’ve surely read about the diminutive champion and the positive influence he had on Americans from coast to coast during the Great Depression.

Or maybe you saw the movie!

As Oscar Quiroz did…several times. He bought the DVD when it came out, for personal reasons and interest in the film itself. After all, it was about racing and a famous racehorse.

Quiroz is a valet and also works on the gate Canterbury Park each summer, after spending the winter in his home state of Arizona working the gate at Turf Paradise.

Canterbury Gate Crew 2019

He became attracted to racing as a boy, largely because of a grandfather who resided not far from where he spent his youth, in Tucson.

He was a youngster, maybe 17, and working at Rillito Park in Tucson when movie engineers for an upcoming film showed up to record the sounds of horses racing on the turn, and the sound of the starting bell.  Only later on, after the work was completed and he had watched the film, did he come to understand completely the role he had played and its place in the film.

The engineers arrived at Rillito that day to record sound for an upcoming movie about Seabiscuit, a son of Hard Tack and grandson of the immortal Man of War. (The movie was released in late July, 2003).

Hardtack was a kind of biscuit or cracker that sailors consumed at sea, a meal accompaniment that survived well during voyages. It was an easy transition from there to the name given the 1938 American Horse of the Year.

Seabiscuit was so honored after taking on 1937 Triple Crown winner War Admiral in a much ballyhooed match race at Pimlico Racecourse, a race he won by a solid four lengths and commanded throughout.

He was a mere 15 hands at maturity yet grew into an inspiration to a nation during a period of financial stress that plagued the citizenry across the land.

If a smallish, indeed undersized, thoroughbred could overcome the odds as Seabiscuit did, why couldn’t struggling men and women draw hope from such an example and apply it to their own lives.

Seabiscuit was to horse racing and the nation what James J. Braddock had been to boxing and the country in 1935, when he, too, overcame seemingly insurmountable odds to win the world heavyweight title. And today Quiroz can relish his small part in the making of a film about a legendary horse, the fifteen minutes of fame that the artist Andy Warhol predicted would enter all of our lives at one time or another.

Racing is part of Oscar’s family genes, so to speak, and can be found throughout his genetic code, his love for everything about the sport, and somewhere deep within, he has a desire to work the gate, to be part of the start of every race, a job he relishes despite several painful incidents with fractious horses over the years that have left him limping on occasion.

His grandfather, Rudy Rodriguez, raced a couple of horses throughout the fair circuit when Quiroz was a youngster and he became taken with the idea of horses and the racetrack at an early age.

“My grandfather was from Patagonia (Arizona) and he had a ranch in Nogales. He got me interested,” Oscar recalled. “I used to help him clean stalls.

Later Quiroz, again due to his grandfather, got to hang out with the guys at the starting gate at Prescott Downs, and a starter named Lee Peterson, who worked at Rillito as well.

“Let me know if you ever need help in Tucson,” Quiroz told him. He didn’t have to wait long. “I got a call the next winter,” he said. And thus began a career that has taken him several places over the years and every summer to Shakopee.

For Quiroz, the opportunity to work the gate was golden, a chance to do a job he had admired since boyhood, and he settled into the new occupation with ease.

Then, some time later, came that memorable day at Rillito, when he was told by a track official that a film crew would be there the following day. Quiroz, it turned out, was asked to ring the starter’s bell whenever needed for the film recorders. He is reminded of that role whenever he watches the movie and hears the distinctive sound.

“Hey, that’s the bell at Rillito,” he eagerly told a friend after watching the film for the first time.

He recalled the sound engineers taking advantage of short opportunities to do their work. “They were there for most of the day, and would record between races while the horses were being saddled, ” he said.

Different parts of the movie were filmed at various tracks around the country, including Santa Anita Park in California. Several gate crew members seen during the match race in the film are men Quiroz worked with at Los Alamitos and Hollywood Park. “I knew all of those guys,” he said.

Seabiscuit, as Braddock before him, had several missteps in his career before finding the footing that would make him a hero to a nation in need during the great financial crisis.

He didn’t break his maiden until his 18th attempt, thereafter finding the wherewithal that carried him to a career record of 33-15-13  in 89 starts and earnings of $437,730, not bad during a time when money was hard to come by for the majority of Americans.

Quiroz was asked recently how long it had been since he watched the movie. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not sure where the DVD is right now.”

Just the same, he  plans to dig it up and rewatch, for the umpteenth time, the story about the great little champion that includes his small contribution, his 15 minutes of fame.

 

 

 

$200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, Canterbury’s Richest Race, Saturday

Northern Stars Racing Festival features five stakes with $500,000 in purses

The $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, the richest horse race of Canterbury Park’s 66-day season, attracted eight three-year-olds for the one mile turf race led by 3 to 1 morning line favorite Dunph. The Mystic Lake Derby will be the seventh race on an 11-race program that begins at 5:15 p.m. on Saturday, and is one of five stakes races to be run that evening as part of the Northern Stars Racing Festival. Dunph will be ridden by Santiago Gonzalez and is trained by Mike Maker, who won this race in 2018 with Sniper Kitten. He owned by Three Diamonds Farm and Joseph Besecker.

Four of the eight entered in the Mystic Lake Derby are based at Canterbury Park, including the Irish-bred filly Spectralight who will make her North American debut having raced six times in Italy as a 2-year-old. Spectralight, with Eddie Martin, Jr. named to ride, is trained by Brian House and owned by James Spry. They also have entered Winning Number in the Derby.

This will be the eighth edition of the race that began in 2012 following the signing of a cooperative marketing and purse enhancement agreement earlier that summer between Canterbury Park and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, owners and operators of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. The agreement calls for SMSC to contribute more than $70 million to horsemen purses over 10 years and has more than doubled the annual purse payments.

Stakes purses Saturday total $500,000. The $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile, also on the grass, drew a field of 14 and will be run as the sixth race. The 27th running of the $100,000 Lady Canterbury Stakes, the evening’s fifth race, has eight entered.  The $50,000 Dark Star Cup has seven including defending champion Creative Art, and the $50,000 Hoist Her Flag Stakes has nine.

Post time Thursday and Friday is 6:00 p.m. and Saturday has a special 5:15 p.m. first post.

From The Rink To The Track

By Mari Ballinger

Some may know him as the Minnesota Wild goalie, but here at Canterbury Park Alex Stalock is known as the co-owner of One Famous Ocean.

It all started eight years ago when Stalock met track announcer Paul Allen in the paddock. Their friendship blossomed due to their similar, lively personalities. From there, Stalock and Allen formed The L Team, which further increased Stalock’s contribution at the track. Though, Stalock had been around horse racing since his high school days.

“I started coming to Canterbury during my teenage years, my friends and I loved making frequent trips to Canterbury,” said Stalock. “We would play some black jack, bet on horses and hopefully not lose too much money.”

Now, trips to Canterbury look a little different. Stalock is married with two young kids, who also happen to take interest in horses.

“My favorite thing about owning a horse has to be sharing that experience with my family,” said Stalock. “The kids absolutely love it. Going back to the barn to feed One Famous Ocean a couple carrots is my son’s favorite thing to do.”

The racing industry lets Stalock display his competitive behavior during the offseason, although he claims to keep calm during the races.

“The racing aspect is a lot like hockey, or any sport in general,” said Stalock. “Some days you show up and some days you don’t. You can go five consecutive games with a goal and then the next game you get nothing. It’s tough.”

Contrary to their name The L Team, which implies they take losses, Stalock, Allen and the rest of the gang are hoping for many wins this upcoming season.

From England to the States and Always A Winner

By Mari Ballinger

When she’s not winning on the track, jockey Lori Keith loves to spend her Minnesota summers outside. She stays very active, whether that be enjoying the many lakes or taking her new pup Fergie out for a long walk.

Fergie is an 11-week old Boxer with an outgoing personality. She has captured the hearts of everyone, including the horses, at the barns. That should come as no surprise because who can pass up a cute dog?

“Fergie is very lively,” said Keith. “She will walk right up to the horses and start playing around. She isn’t afraid of anything.”

Unfortunately, Keith had to say goodbye to her beloved Boxer, Seve, around Christmas this past year. She has hopes of breeding Fergie so she doesn’t have to experience that kind of loss again.

As if a seven day work week at the barn isn’t enough, adding a furry partner in crime to the mix will definitely bring out  Keith’s go-getter attitude.

Originally from Epsom, England, Keith moved to the states in 2003. She eventually found her way to California where she worked for horse trainer Neil Drysdale. In 2005, she began her riding career at Hollywood Park and finished third in her first race.

Keith came to Canterbury Park in 2007 and has made a lasting impression ever since. Her first ride was a claiming race for $6,500 on May 5, 2007 where she won.

Keith’s accomplishments don’t stop there, though. Minnesota-bred gelding C C Tat and Keith were an unstoppable duo. It didn’t matter whether the race was long or short, or turf or dirt, C C Tat and Keith always seemed to finish near the top. In fact, the pair

Keith aboard C C Tat at the Minnesota Turf Championship race in 2008.

won the Minnesota Turf Championship on Festival Day 2008. “My fondest racing memories include that horse,” added Keith.

Keith has had many more impressive achievements since then, including winning the Mystic Lake Derby, Canterbury Park’s richest race, two years in a row. “I’m two for two in the derby so far and I don’t think I want to go back just yet,” joked Keith.

Through the first 18 days of the meet, she has won 3 of 21 starts and finished in the money 49 percent of the time. Keith will travel to Remington Park in Oklahoma after the season at Canterbury Park is finished.