Brooks Fields Stakes on Tap

Brooks FieldsWhen you walk into Churchill Downs the history of its most famous race is displayed along the upper reaches of the grandstand outside the paddock, one Kentucky Derby winner after another, starting with Aristides in 1875.

Thoroughbred racing is empty without its history, without the stories of its great horses, sires and broodmares, jockeys, trainers and founding figures.

Brooks Fields is one of them, a man who forever will be associated with Canterbury Downs and the arrival of pari-mutuel racing in Minnesota in 1985. It is not a stretch to call him ‘Founding Father.’ It seems the perfect appellation under any circumstances but even more so on Father’s Day.

He will be remembered again on Sunday, as he is each year, with the running of the Brooks Fields Stakes, a $50,000 race this time thanks to a $15,000 endowment from the Mystic Lake Purse Enhancement Fund.

Fields made his mark in the grain business and took on horse racing as a retirement endeavor. An entire industry is indebted to him for that commitment and will salute before and after the eighth race.

The likely favorite in the 7 and ½ furlong dash on the grass is 4-year-old colt Hammers Terror, the Kentucky-bred winner of the inaugural Mystic Lake Derby last summer who has shipped in from Arlington Park. Winless in two starts this year, in five since the Derby, Hammers Terror will be ridden by locally based Dean Butler.

The chief competition will likely emerge from the Mac Robertson barn, a horse named Slip and Drive who shares blood with the favorite. Both are by Artie Schiller.

Red Lead’s speed makes him part of this picture, too. Lori Keith, who rode Hammers Terror in the Mystic Lake Derby, has the mount here.

Meanwhile, family members and friends will be on hand for the Brooks Fields Stakes. Sarah Neesan, Brooks’ daughter, will present the trophy to the winning connections after the race.

Fields had a reputation as a people person. “They were his passion,” said Sarah. “He loved people.”

Even though he knew little about horse racing when he set the groundwork for its place in Minnesota, he learned to love the sport as well.

SKIP ZIMMERMAN MEMORIAL STAKES

Another tribute on today’s card will honor Skip Zimmerman, a former owner who was once the president of the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Association.

HUCKLEBERRY MOJITO

The $20,000-added race has drawn a field of eight for the 350-yard event. A 4-year-old filly named Huckleberry Mojito (above), trained by Ed Ross Hardy and ridden by Nick Goodwin gets a slight nod over the competition here. Mojito proved dominant last summer at Canterbury notching victories in the Canterbury Derby and Fillies Race for Hope Distaff.

Iris Cartelsbadnews, Bf Farm Boy and Red Hot Zoomer, another Hardy horse, are the likely challengers.

The MQHRA will honor its former president with this edition of the annual race. Zimmerman grew up with horses in North Dakota and got into the racing business in the early 1970s .

LOCAL IDOL GETS OUTSIDE TEST

Maybe more compelling than the feature race on Sunday is the matchup of 2012 Canterbury Horse of the Year Heliskier (below) outside of state-bred competition for the first time.

Heliskier

Unbeaten in seven starts, Heliskier is the prohibitive favorite in an 11-horse field, his largest to date.

Owned by Marlene Colvin, trained by Robertson and ridden by Derek Bell, the 4-year-old gelding is by Appealing Skier from Plana Dance.

RIDER, TRAINER WIN FOUR OF SIX MYSTIC LAKE FUTURITY TRIAL RACES

Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens had back-to-back winners on the card, piloting The Flying Whizzer at 17-1 to the winner’s circle in the second race. Stevens was on the winner in the very next race, too, Sentiment Gray.

ML Futurity Trial

Jockey Jorge Torres and trainer Stacy Charette-Hill won four of Saturday’s six quarter horse trial races for the $133,525 Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity. Charette- Hill qualified five of her six runners for the July 5 final, including fastest qualifier High Ace (pictured above) who covered the 350-yard distance in 17.692 seconds.

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: Coady Photography

Canterbury Qs Invade Iowa

Prairie Meadows hosts a huge day of racing this Saturday with qualifying races for the Bank of America Challenge Championships. The finals for the event will be held this year for the first time at Prairie Meadows on October 27. This racing series is the quarter horse equivalent of the Breeders’ Cup with the best of the breed vying for six divisional titles.

There will be a qualifier held for each of the six divisions this Saturday with the winner of each race being awarded a spot in the Championship Final. Qualifiers are held all across the United States and other parts of North and South America throughout the year with winners qualifying from tracks as far away as Brazil. For more information on the Challenge Championships, check out the website.

Numerous Canterbury Park runners have made their way south for the qualifying races, here’s a look at some of the local hopefuls including 2012 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above).

Race 4: The Distaff Challenge

#1 Believer’s Gathering (2-1), runner-up to Huckleberry Mojito in the Fillies Race for Hope Stakes on August 4th is the morning line for the Distaff. She ran a big third last time out behind Cruzin the Wagon, 2011 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet.

#2 Paint or More (6-1), winner of the 2011 NCQHRA Futurity and all three of her 2011 starts at Canterbury in 2011 had a tough year to this point. She ran behind Huckleberry Mojito in all three of her races at Canterbury this year and was beaten by Believer’s Gathering by 2 lengths in their lone meeting.

#3 Streakin Rare (3-1) was another that ran in the Fillies for Hope Stakes on August 4th. She ran fourth beaten a length by Believer’s Gathering and one to the better of Paint or More.

#4 Rumba Casino (5-1) rounds out the local hopefuls in the Distaff. She put in two dull efforts at Canterbury this summer losing an allowance by more than three lengths and finishing last of the contenders here in the Fillies Race for Hope Stakes.

Race 5: The Starter Allowance

#5 Whiz Happens (15-1) struggled at Canterbury this summer only hitting the ticket once and never finishing better than sixth in his other efforts. Outsider.

#7 Jess Choo and Me (8-1) won a restricted $10k claimer and ran fifth in the 100-yard dash on Extreme Day but appears to be a cut below the best.

#8 Sweet and Sour Uno (15-1) had two fifths and a seventh this summer at Canterbury. Would be a surprise.

#10 Toast to Invictus (8-1) put in three solid efforts this summer for Amber Blair recording two wins and a third against softer company. Luark is aboard.

#11 Summit Bid (10-1) may have the best chance of the locals as this guy put in two solid seconds behind stakes runners at Canterbury this summer. Won the Challenge race for the Bank of America Derby at Canterbury Park in 2010 so he’s run big in these races before. Top North American quarter horse rider G.R. Carter will have the call.

Race 6: The Distance Challenge

#4 Colosso (6-1) hails from the barn of Jerry Livingston and made his debut around the hook last time running a solid second in one of the trials for this race. That was from the rail and draws the four hole tonight. More work cut out for him here. Jordan, Minn. native Marcus Swiontek has the call.

#7 Jess Another Reb (6-1) shipped into Canterbury and ran a good second to hook horse extraordinaire Dangerous Guns after being left at the break. Luark has the call today but he may have last all chance at the draw. The seven post will be a challenge.

Race 7: The Derby Challenge

#1 Mr Corona Blue (6-1) stopped in Shakopee for one start before the Prairie Meadows meet and it didn’t go very well finishing sixth in a field of eight. Tom Wellington will be aboard.

#5 Huckleberry Mojito (3-1), the 2012 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet, was dominant in winning all three of her races this summer at Canterbury. This Ed Ross Hardy trainee has really turned it on as a three-year-old and she’s the morning line favorite for the Derby. Vazquez takes the call replacing Goodwin, her regular rider in Minnesota.

#7 Painted Lies (5-1) also put together a three-race win streak this summer at Canterbury before having her’s derailed by Mojito. Amber Blair’s runner is certainly taking down Mojito if Huckleberry encounters any trouble. It’s all about getting a clean trip!

Race 8: The Juvenile Challenge

#1 Girls Don’t Seis (12-1) ran second in a futurity trial at Canterbury on July 22 after a smashing maiden-breaking victory at Boise. In tough against these.

#2 Cats Meow Too (15-1) won a maiden race on August 3rd at Canterbury but was subsequently disqualified. Won her trial race for this but in a rather unimpressive time.

#6 Hastabealeader (8-1) ran a first, second and third in three futurities this summer in Shakopee earning over $25,000. Another that needs to see his time improve over the trial by over three tenths of a second.

#10 Outlaw Memories (8-1) is undefeated in three starts with wins at Canterbury, Fargo and Prairie Meadows. Best trial time of the local contingent but has never dealt with the outside post in his three race career, will need a straight trip but not without a chance.

Race 9: The Championship Challenge

#2 Where’s Your Wagon (15-1) finished second in the Skip Zimmerman Stakes as the favorite behind Hollywood Trickster in May and then came back to cruise to an easy allowance victory on August 3rd. The water is far deeper here and this is by far the toughest race of his career.

#7 Paintyourownwagon (12-1) won an allowance in June and then ran behind Hollywood Trickster in the July 3 Great Lakes Stakes at tonight’s championship distance of 440-yards. Wellington has the call.

These two will have their work cut out for them as they both go up against one of the best in America in Llano Teller, winner of 11 of 22 lifetime races and over $1.67 million in earnings throughout his racing career.

Don’t miss out on this great racing action this Saturday from Prairie Meadows. First post on the ten race program is 6:30PM. Watch and wager at Canterbury Park!

Canterbury Qs Invade Iowa

Prairie Meadows hosts a huge day of racing this Saturday with qualifying races for the Bank of America Challenge Championships. The finals for the event will be held this year for the first time at Prairie Meadows on October 27. This racing series is the quarter horse equivalent of the Breeders’ Cup with the best of the breed vying for six divisional titles.

There will be a qualifier held for each of the six divisions this Saturday with the winner of each race being awarded a spot in the Championship Final. Qualifiers are held all across the United States and other parts of North and South America throughout the year with winners qualifying from tracks as far away as Brazil. For more information on the Challenge Championships, check out the website.

Numerous Canterbury Park runners have made their way south for the qualifying races, here’s a look at some of the local hopefuls including 2012 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above).

Race 4: The Distaff Challenge

#1 Believer’s Gathering (2-1), runner-up to Huckleberry Mojito in the Fillies Race for Hope Stakes on August 4th is the morning line for the Distaff. She ran a big third last time out behind Cruzin the Wagon, 2011 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet.

#2 Paint or More (6-1), winner of the 2011 NCQHRA Futurity and all three of her 2011 starts at Canterbury in 2011 had a tough year to this point. She ran behind Huckleberry Mojito in all three of her races at Canterbury this year and was beaten by Believer’s Gathering by 2 lengths in their lone meeting.

#3 Streakin Rare (3-1) was another that ran in the Fillies for Hope Stakes on August 4th. She ran fourth beaten a length by Believer’s Gathering and one to the better of Paint or More.

#4 Rumba Casino (5-1) rounds out the local hopefuls in the Distaff. She put in two dull efforts at Canterbury this summer losing an allowance by more than three lengths and finishing last of the contenders here in the Fillies Race for Hope Stakes.

Race 5: The Starter Allowance

#5 Whiz Happens (15-1) struggled at Canterbury this summer only hitting the ticket once and never finishing better than sixth in his other efforts. Outsider.

#7 Jess Choo and Me (8-1) won a restricted $10k claimer and ran fifth in the 100-yard dash on Extreme Day but appears to be a cut below the best.

#8 Sweet and Sour Uno (15-1) had two fifths and a seventh this summer at Canterbury. Would be a surprise.

#10 Toast to Invictus (8-1) put in three solid efforts this summer for Amber Blair recording two wins and a third against softer company. Luark is aboard.

#11 Summit Bid (10-1) may have the best chance of the locals as this guy put in two solid seconds behind stakes runners at Canterbury this summer. Won the Challenge race for the Bank of America Derby at Canterbury Park in 2010 so he’s run big in these races before. Top North American quarter horse rider G.R. Carter will have the call.

Race 6: The Distance Challenge

#4 Colosso (6-1) hails from the barn of Jerry Livingston and made his debut around the hook last time running a solid second in one of the trials for this race. That was from the rail and draws the four hole tonight. More work cut out for him here. Jordan, Minn. native Marcus Swiontek has the call.

#7 Jess Another Reb (6-1) shipped into Canterbury and ran a good second to hook horse extraordinaire Dangerous Guns after being left at the break. Luark has the call today but he may have last all chance at the draw. The seven post will be a challenge.

Race 7: The Derby Challenge

#1 Mr Corona Blue (6-1) stopped in Shakopee for one start before the Prairie Meadows meet and it didn’t go very well finishing sixth in a field of eight. Tom Wellington will be aboard.

#5 Huckleberry Mojito (3-1), the 2012 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse of the Meet, was dominant in winning all three of her races this summer at Canterbury. This Ed Ross Hardy trainee has really turned it on as a three-year-old and she’s the morning line favorite for the Derby. Vazquez takes the call replacing Goodwin, her regular rider in Minnesota.

#7 Painted Lies (5-1) also put together a three-race win streak this summer at Canterbury before having her’s derailed by Mojito. Amber Blair’s runner is certainly taking down Mojito if Huckleberry encounters any trouble. It’s all about getting a clean trip!

Race 8: The Juvenile Challenge

#1 Girls Don’t Seis (12-1) ran second in a futurity trial at Canterbury on July 22 after a smashing maiden-breaking victory at Boise. In tough against these.

#2 Cats Meow Too (15-1) won a maiden race on August 3rd at Canterbury but was subsequently disqualified. Won her trial race for this but in a rather unimpressive time.

#6 Hastabealeader (8-1) ran a first, second and third in three futurities this summer in Shakopee earning over $25,000. Another that needs to see his time improve over the trial by over three tenths of a second.

#10 Outlaw Memories (8-1) is undefeated in three starts with wins at Canterbury, Fargo and Prairie Meadows. Best trial time of the local contingent but has never dealt with the outside post in his three race career, will need a straight trip but not without a chance.

Race 9: The Championship Challenge

#2 Where’s Your Wagon (15-1) finished second in the Skip Zimmerman Stakes as the favorite behind Hollywood Trickster in May and then came back to cruise to an easy allowance victory on August 3rd. The water is far deeper here and this is by far the toughest race of his career.

#7 Paintyourownwagon (12-1) won an allowance in June and then ran behind Hollywood Trickster in the July 3 Great Lakes Stakes at tonight’s championship distance of 440-yards. Wellington has the call.

These two will have their work cut out for them as they both go up against one of the best in America in Llano Teller, winner of 11 of 22 lifetime races and over $1.67 million in earnings throughout his racing career.

Don’t miss out on this great racing action this Saturday from Prairie Meadows. First post on the ten race program is 6:30PM. Watch and wager at Canterbury Park!

New Attendance Record Set and Handle Up 25%

Just like that it was over. A horse named Vini Vidi Vinci won the 11th race on Monday, bringing the 2012 live racing season to a close.

The name is a corruption of that note of humility in Latin from Julius Cesar, who proclaimed that “I came, I saw, I conquered.”  Vini, Vidi Vinci did, however, drop the curtain on arguably the most promising summer in track annals.

Closing day produces mixed emotions for the horsemen, the riders, track staff, just about anyone you care to mention. The fans, too.

As one fellow offered: “It’s like leaving my grandparents after a visit as a kid. I was ready to go home, but I didn’t want to leave them.”

There is a feeling of relief on the one hand. Nearly everyone is ready for a break. There is also an emotional letdown on the other, a letting go of the summer, for better or for worse, and a four-month piece of one’s life.

In the world of the thoroughbred and the quarter horse, there is another element to closing day – the presentation of awards.

The champion trainer once again, for the eighth consecutive year, is Mac Robertson, who had 19 wins more than the second place trainers, Bernell Rhone and Mike Biehler.

Tanner Riggs, on the other hand, accomplished something no jockey before him at Canterbury – the Downs or Park – had done. He rode five winners on three cards. “That’s something in itself,” he said. “It doesn’t really sink in at first, but a few days down the road you think about it and how cool it is.” Riggs had 74 wins for the meet.

Ruben Martinez, the close associate of the Miguel Silva barn, won the owner’s award with four more wins than Curtis Sampson.

Canterbury Park president and CEO Randy Sampson addressed the closing day crowd with remarks about the training and riding champions as well as the future of racing in Shakopee.

“Mac had another great meet and Tanner had a great meet as well,” he said. “Tanner was a wonderful addition to Canterbury this year and we hope to see more of him in the future.”

What was clear, too, on closing day is that most horsemen will leave Shakopee in a different frame of mind than they did a year ago, following a summer that included a shutdown of the state government and the racetrack and plenty of uncertainty about what lay ahead.

The marketing agreement signed this summer between Canterbury and Mystic Lake and the Mdewakanton Sioux not only enhanced the purses for the 2012 meet but will continue to do so over the next decade, providing stability to racing heretofore unseen in Minnesota.

“We’re already looking forward to next season,” said Sampson. “We have a lot to look forward to.”

Trainer Bryan Porter, for one, is anticipating a change that hasn’t received much public discussion. It is understood that the competition will likely improve over coming summers as additional stables arrive. Improved purses at Canterbury mean that owners accustomed to racing their horses throughout the winter to make ends meet can now turn them out for a few months rest instead.

“A lot of people haven’t even considered that,” Porter said. “But horses coming back here now can be fresh and rested and ready to compete.”

So the season closed on a positive note for a number of people. Among the riders, Dean Butler, who won the last three thoroughbred titles, finished second to Riggs with 65 wins. Derek Bell had 38 and Nik Goodwin, who won the quarter horse title, 33. Next was Scott Stevens with 30 and then Lori Keith with 29.

Among the trainers, Rhone had a solid meet as did Mike Biehler and Silva.

Edward Ross Hardy won his 11th quarter horse training title with 25 victories, 11 more than Vic Hanson. Hardy won at a 37% rate. His runners finished in the top three 78% of the time. Nik Goodwin won the quarter horse riding title for the second time. Goodwin had 21 wins. Three of Goodwin’s and Hardy’s victories came with Canterbury Derby winner Huckleberry Mojito, who was voted Canterbury Quarter Horse of the Year. Brenda Reiswig of Bismarck, ND was the leading owner with 10 victories.

Placing judge Peggy Davis made an observation as well. She arrived in the press box with the joyous proclamation that for the first time in four years Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens was leaving the grounds without an injury of some kind and would open the meet in Phoenix the first week of October.

Of all the positive and thankful things to think about this winter, that one ranks near the top.

Record Average Attendance Set; Total Handle Up 25%

Also near the top of the positive list, the business aspects related to the meet showed extremely positive signs.

Average attendance for the 62-day meet was 6,595, an increase of 7.3% compared to 2011 when average attendance was 6,143. The 2012 average attendance figure set a new record.

The amount of money wagered throughout the meet, increased by 25% compared to 2011. As previously mentioned, the 2011 season was shortened by a state government shutdown and consisted of 56 race days. In 2012, average daily handle was $452,405, an increase of 12.9% over 2011.

“We are very pleased with this season and are already planning for 2013,” Canterbury President Randy Sampson said.

This season $2.7 million was injected into the purse fund thanks to the $75 million joint marketing and purse enhancement agreement between Canterbury Park and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community which operates Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. This year’s increase represented a per day increase of 31.8%. A per day increase of an additional 25% is expected for 2013.

“The purse enhancement agreement will have a positive impact on the Minnesota racing industry in many ways,” Sampson said. “I expect to see more and higher quality horses and stables racing at Canterbury in 2013,” Sampson said. “I also expect to see breeding in the state increase and have already heard from several horse breeders that intend to increase operations in the coming years. The excitement level for Minnesota racing has never been higher.”

Heliskier Named Horse of the Year; Other Divisional Champions

Three-year-old Heliskier was named Horse of the Year. The undefeated Minnesota-bred won all four starts including victories in the $50,000 Victor S. Myers Stakes and $65,000 Minnesota Derby. Heliskier is owned by Marlene Colvin of Ethan, SD. He is trained by Mac Robertson and was ridden by Derek Bell.

Canterbury’s 2012 divisional champions include:

Horse of the Year – Heliskier (owner: Marlene Colvin; trainer: Mac Robertson)

Three-Year-Old Colt or Gelding – Heliskier (owner: Marlene Colvin; trainer: Mac Robertson)

Sprinter – Heliskier (owner: Marlene Colvin; trainer: Mac Robertson)

Older Horse – Tubby Time (owner: Jeff Larson; trainer: Mac Robertson)

Grass Horse – Tubby Time (owner: Jeff Larson; trainer: Mac Robertson)

Older Filly or Mare – Ruthville (owner: Arthur B Hancock, III; trainer: Michael Stidham )

Three-Year-Old Filly – Keewatin Ice (owner: Camelia Casby; trainer: Bryan Porter)

Two-Year-Old – Badge of Glory (owner: Cheryl Spick and Richard Bremer; trainer: Bernell Rhone)

Claimer – Patriate (owner: Robert Johnson; trainer: Robert Johnson)

Quarter Horse – Huckleberry Mojito (owner: L M R 2011; trainer: Edward Ross Hardy )

New Attendance Record Set and Handle Up 25%

Just like that it was over. A horse named Vini Vidi Vinci won the 11th race on Monday, bringing the 2012 live racing season to a close.

The name is a corruption of that note of humility in Latin from Julius Cesar, who proclaimed that “I came, I saw, I conquered.”  Vini, Vidi Vinci did, however, drop the curtain on arguably the most promising summer in track annals.

Closing day produces mixed emotions for the horsemen, the riders, track staff, just about anyone you care to mention. The fans, too.

As one fellow offered: “It’s like leaving my grandparents after a visit as a kid. I was ready to go home, but I didn’t want to leave them.”

There is a feeling of relief on the one hand. Nearly everyone is ready for a break. There is also an emotional letdown on the other, a letting go of the summer, for better or for worse, and a four-month piece of one’s life.

In the world of the thoroughbred and the quarter horse, there is another element to closing day – the presentation of awards.

The champion trainer once again, for the eighth consecutive year, is Mac Robertson, who had 19 wins more than the second place trainers, Bernell Rhone and Mike Biehler.

Tanner Riggs, on the other hand, accomplished something no jockey before him at Canterbury – the Downs or Park – had done. He rode five winners on three cards. “That’s something in itself,” he said. “It doesn’t really sink in at first, but a few days down the road you think about it and how cool it is.” Riggs had 74 wins for the meet.

Ruben Martinez, the close associate of the Miguel Silva barn, won the owner’s award with four more wins than Curtis Sampson.

Canterbury Park president and CEO Randy Sampson addressed the closing day crowd with remarks about the training and riding champions as well as the future of racing in Shakopee.

“Mac had another great meet and Tanner had a great meet as well,” he said. “Tanner was a wonderful addition to Canterbury this year and we hope to see more of him in the future.”

What was clear, too, on closing day is that most horsemen will leave Shakopee in a different frame of mind than they did a year ago, following a summer that included a shutdown of the state government and the racetrack and plenty of uncertainty about what lay ahead.

The marketing agreement signed this summer between Canterbury and Mystic Lake and the Mdewakanton Sioux not only enhanced the purses for the 2012 meet but will continue to do so over the next decade, providing stability to racing heretofore unseen in Minnesota.

“We’re already looking forward to next season,” said Sampson. “We have a lot to look forward to.”

Trainer Bryan Porter, for one, is anticipating a change that hasn’t received much public discussion. It is understood that the competition will likely improve over coming summers as additional stables arrive. Improved purses at Canterbury mean that owners accustomed to racing their horses throughout the winter to make ends meet can now turn them out for a few months rest instead.

“A lot of people haven’t even considered that,” Porter said. “But horses coming back here now can be fresh and rested and ready to compete.”

So the season closed on a positive note for a number of people. Among the riders, Dean Butler, who won the last three thoroughbred titles, finished second to Riggs with 65 wins. Derek Bell had 38 and Nik Goodwin, who won the quarter horse title, 33. Next was Scott Stevens with 30 and then Lori Keith with 29.

Among the trainers, Rhone had a solid meet as did Mike Biehler and Silva.

Edward Ross Hardy won his 11th quarter horse training title with 25 victories, 11 more than Vic Hanson. Hardy won at a 37% rate. His runners finished in the top three 78% of the time. Nik Goodwin won the quarter horse riding title for the second time. Goodwin had 21 wins. Three of Goodwin’s and Hardy’s victories came with Canterbury Derby winner Huckleberry Mojito, who was voted Canterbury Quarter Horse of the Year. Brenda Reiswig of Bismarck, ND was the leading owner with 10 victories.

Placing judge Peggy Davis made an observation as well. She arrived in the press box with the joyous proclamation that for the first time in four years Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens was leaving the grounds without an injury of some kind and would open the meet in Phoenix the first week of October.

Of all the positive and thankful things to think about this winter, that one ranks near the top.

Record Average Attendance Set; Total Handle Up 25%

Also near the top of the positive list, the business aspects related to the meet showed extremely positive signs.

Average attendance for the 62-day meet was 6,595, an increase of 7.3% compared to 2011 when average attendance was 6,143. The 2012 average attendance figure set a new record.

The amount of money wagered throughout the meet, increased by 25% compared to 2011. As previously mentioned, the 2011 season was shortened by a state government shutdown and consisted of 56 race days. In 2012, average daily handle was $452,405, an increase of 12.9% over 2011.

“We are very pleased with this season and are already planning for 2013,” Canterbury President Randy Sampson said.

This season $2.7 million was injected into the purse fund thanks to the $75 million joint marketing and purse enhancement agreement between Canterbury Park and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community which operates Mystic Lake Casino Hotel. This year’s increase represented a per day increase of 31.8%. A per day increase of an additional 25% is expected for 2013.

“The purse enhancement agreement will have a positive impact on the Minnesota racing industry in many ways,” Sampson said. “I expect to see more and higher quality horses and stables racing at Canterbury in 2013,” Sampson said. “I also expect to see breeding in the state increase and have already heard from several horse breeders that intend to increase operations in the coming years. The excitement level for Minnesota racing has never been higher.”

Heliskier Named Horse of the Year; Other Divisional Champions

Three-year-old Heliskier was named Horse of the Year. The undefeated Minnesota-bred won all four starts including victories in the $50,000 Victor S. Myers Stakes and $65,000 Minnesota Derby. Heliskier is owned by Marlene Colvin of Ethan, SD. He is trained by Mac Robertson and was ridden by Derek Bell.

Canterbury’s 2012 divisional champions include:

Horse of the Year – Heliskier (owner: Marlene Colvin; trainer: Mac Robertson)

Three-Year-Old Colt or Gelding – Heliskier (owner: Marlene Colvin; trainer: Mac Robertson)

Sprinter – Heliskier (owner: Marlene Colvin; trainer: Mac Robertson)

Older Horse – Tubby Time (owner: Jeff Larson; trainer: Mac Robertson)

Grass Horse – Tubby Time (owner: Jeff Larson; trainer: Mac Robertson)

Older Filly or Mare – Ruthville (owner: Arthur B Hancock, III; trainer: Michael Stidham )

Three-Year-Old Filly – Keewatin Ice (owner: Camelia Casby; trainer: Bryan Porter)

Two-Year-Old – Badge of Glory (owner: Cheryl Spick and Richard Bremer; trainer: Bernell Rhone)

Claimer – Patriate (owner: Robert Johnson; trainer: Robert Johnson)

Quarter Horse – Huckleberry Mojito (owner: L M R 2011; trainer: Edward Ross Hardy )

Quarter Horse Racing Winding Down

Canterbury’s 2012 quarter horse meet has essentially come to a close with only a couple of stakes races remaining. If you’ve become attached to these sprinters, don’t despair: the quarter horse meet at Prairie Meadows begins this weekend and runs through the end of October.

Just four hours away in Altoona, Iowa, Prairie Meadows is a logical next step for some of Canterbury’s quarter horses. The meet includes a long list of unrestricted stakes races, and has attracted some of the best horses in the country; among them, a few notable Canterbury connections.

Prairie Meadows was the home track of champion aged mare Spit Curl Diva winner of multiple graded stakes across the country in her career, including the 2010 Grade 1 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship at the Fair Grounds, the 2010 Grade 1 Refrigerator at Lone Star Park, and the Grade 3 Keokuk Stakes at Prairie Meadows last year, in which Canterbury perennial Six It Up finished third. Six It Up is in her fourth year at Canterbury and most recently appeared in the Cash Caravan Stakes on August 12th, in which she lost by a nose to Streak N Hot.

One of the best older horses in training last year, Jess A Runner, raced at Canterbury before continuing his campaign in Iowa. Jess A Runner, five years old at the time, shipped in for the Great Lakes Stakes, an event for older horses at 440 yards. Jess a Runner not only won, he broke the track record at that distance by nearly a second. Jess A Runner moved to Iowa after that win, where he won the Grade 3 Two Rivers Stakes and settled into the top ten poll of older horses for months to come.

Last year, Prairie Meadows hosted the Valley Junction Futurity, which was the richest quarter horse race ever held at the track to date, with a purse of $229,000. 39 two-year-olds competed in five trials at 350 yards to determine the field for the Grade 3 event, including fastest qualifier One Famous Hero at 17.690. One Famous Hero was the near even-money favorite heading into the final, but he finished fifth. The winner was a certain Pyc Paint Your Wagon filly fresh off her win in Canterbury’s Northlands Futurity: Cruzin the Wagon. Cruzin the Wagon defeated the field by an entire length in 17.481 and earned a 99 speed index.

Cruzin the Wagon appeared at Canterbury earlier that summer for the Northlands Futurity Trials; she won her trial easily and came back to win the $64,000 final, defeating Painted Lies and Red Hot Zoomer, who would each come back as strong three-year-olds in 2012. Cruzin the Wagon was even more impressive at Remington Park this year, winning three of her four starts, including the Grade 3 Jack Brooks Stakes, where she set a track record for 350 yards despite a sloppy surface. She has earned over $280,000 in her 11 starts.

Another familiar name appeared in the Valley Junction: Huckleberry Mojito. Huckleberry Mojito finished third in her trial and entered the final as the tenth fastest qualifier. She had never been worse than third in her four previous starts, but the Feature Mr Jess filly improved substantially as a three-year-old after her disappointing performance in the Valley Junction, and returned as one of the best horses of the 2012 Canterbury meet. Huckleberry is three for three here, including a three-length derby trial victory, a two-length win in the Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby, and a win against older fillies and mares in the Race for Hope Bonus Challenge.

The Bonus Challenge was a race open to horses enrolled in the AQHA Bank of America Challenge program. Challenge-nominated horses are eligible to compete in a variety of restricted races across the country, and winners of regional races gather at the end of the year in the Challenge Championship. The final races are the Breeders’ Cup of quarter horse racing, and like the thoroughbred event, the finals are held at different tracks. This year, Prairie Meadows is hosting the final event on Oct 27th. They are also hosting a full set of regional qualifiers, offering local horses the perfect opportunity to qualify for the final event.

Huckleberry Mojito is nominated to this program, and it is a possibility that she will show up for one of these qualifying events to have a chance to run in the final. The only question is, which one? As a three-year-old filly, she has her choice of the Adequan Derby, the Merial Distaff, or even the Bank of America Challenge for three-year-olds and up.

If Huckleberry Mojito continues to improve, one may be able to draw parallels between her and the great Spit Curl Diva. Both based in the Midwest, the two fillies developed later in their career, dominated stakes races against older horses and open company and have set track records. Spit Curl Diva earned a berth in the Merial Distaff Challenge final by winning a regional qualifier at Arapahoe; she returned the following year to qualify for the Bank of America challenge final and later that year, appeared in the Grade 1 Champion of Champions.

The retirement of Spit Curl Diva left big horseshoes to fill in the fillies/mares division, the older horses division, and among graded stakes contenders in general. It is impossible to predict the future, and if possible, even harder to predict the future in horse racing, but Huckleberry Mojito has the breeding, talent, and connections to make a name for herself on the national scene. When she does, you can say that you knew her way back when she raced at Canterbury. In the meantime, follow her and the rest of the pack to Iowa for two months of quality quarter horse racing, and save the date for the Challenge Championships on Oct 27th.

Canterbury Covered in Pink

The color of choice on Saturday was pink, and anywhere one cared to look the color was represented in various shades. The entire track was in the pink, in fact, from the gate to the gate crew, the valets and most of the employees were in pink tee-shirts, pink hats, pink ties. Some of the outriders had pink leg wraps or pink saddle towels on their mounts.

The second annual Fillies Race For Hope card offered 10 races featuring only fillies or mares and was devoted to fundraising on behalf of breast cancer organizations, Hope Chest and the Pay it Forward Fund.

There was a silent auction, a raffle offering a trip for two to next year’s Kentucky Derby, a hat contest and the usual concessions to satisfy a crowd of 8,259.

The highlights of the day, however, were four consecutive stake races, three for thoroughbreds and one for quarter horses.

A night of heavy rain might have destroyed the surfaces of some racing venues but the main track started muddy and was upgraded to good by the start of race three. The turf course, on the other hand, was as green as the Irish countryside after Friday night’s deluge but was still good for the Saturday’s stakes events.

$100,000 Lady Canterbury Stakes

The 20th running of this race, at a mile on the turf, originally had a seven-horse field but was reduced to five starters after two scratches, Our Lady in Red and morning line favorite Hooh Why.

The Lady Canterbury has a long history, dating to its first running in 1986 when it introduced grass racing to Minnesotans. It has brought in shippers over the years who have stolen the show, just as one did on Saturday.

Talk about racing royalty. The Kentucky Hancocks are long-time Kentucky barons in the sport, and Arthur B. the III sent his Ruthville to Canterbury for a shot at the $100,000 purse.

Ridden by Dean Butler, Ruthville ran past the very tired pace-setter Rare Sunset and Geovanni Franco and finished one length in front of Bryan’s Jewell and Derek Bell. It was another 6 ¾ lengths back to Zaphyra and Scott Stevens, who were 1 and ¾ lengths in front of Rare Sunset.

Assistant trainer Chris Davis handled the winner for Michael Stidham, just as he did last weekend with the Mystic Lake Derby winner. This time, however, there was no claim of foul and stewards inquiry and the tense moments that accompany those occasions.

“Yeah, that was just fine,” said Davis, who was none too concerned about the seven-length lead Rare Sunset had at the half-mile pole. The frontrunner faded like a red shirt in a hot wash after setting the quick pace (46 3/5 and 1:11 and 1/5).

“The turf was softer than usual so I wasn’t really worried,” said Davis. “If it had been hard it would have been another matter, but I was hoping for rain. That helped us since we’re going to come from behind anyway.”

Stidham trained the winner of the 2011 Lady Canterbury, too, winning with A She’s Adorable, owned by Skip Maas.

$50,000 Hoist Her Flag

Speed burns and absolute speed burns absolutely. Or something like that.

Starlite Starbrite left the gate as if she’d been shot from a giant slingshot and led a 10-horse field from gate to wire, finishing a widening 2 and ¾ lengths in front of Burst of Life and 3 ¼ in front of Polar Plunge.

Derek Bell had won this stake three times and made it four on Saturday, giving the winner a perfect ride for trainer Thomas Amoss and owner Andrena Van Doren.

The winner set early fractions of :22, :45 and 1/5, finishing in 1:10.

When Burst of Life and Dean Butler tried to make a move in the stretch drive, Starlite simply drew off. “She gave me another gear even with all that speed,” said Bell. “She was something.”

$50,000 Princess Elaine

Tickleyourfancy and Butler turned it up a notch on the turn, taking a clear lead, and drew off down the stretch to a 2 and ¾ length victory over Tex Savitri and Tanner Riggs.

Bell and Grace of Greatness were third, another 1 and ¾ lengths back.

The winner is owned by Michael Grossman, formerly of Prior Lake and Grossman Chevrolet, now primarily of Texas but nonetheless a Minnesotan at heart who maintains a home here, too.

Grossman was pleased with the win, obviously, but for very specific reasons. “”She has been so close so many times,” he said.

Yes, she has. In 24 previous career starts, Tickleyourfancy had won four times but had finished second seven times and third another four times.

“This has been a long time coming. I feel fantastic,” said Grossman.

Grossman will take that feeling home with him to his Texas farm.

Butler had won this race once before, with Glitter Star in 2006 for owner Bonnie Baskin.

$25,000 Fillies Race for Hope Bonus Challenge

There was a nine-horse field for this one- horse race.

Huckleberry Mojito won by 1 and ¾ lengths even though it looked like more the son of Feature Mr. Jess was moving so swiftly.

Pick your adjective for this finish in 20:17:

Huckleberry crushed, squashed, flattened…

Leading quarter horse rider Nik Goodwin was on the winner. “My horse breaks so well and so cleanly,” he said. “Anytime you can get that, you usually get a winner.”

Believers Gathering and Thomas Wellington were second. Bailey Nagurski and Tanner Riggs were next.

Clyde Smith, who finished out of it on Chicks Brief Case, summed up the race tersely as he headed downstairs.

“Didn’t matter how good mine was, it was going to beat that winner today,” he said to no one in particular.

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

Canterbury Covered in Pink

The color of choice on Saturday was pink, and anywhere one cared to look the color was represented in various shades. The entire track was in the pink, in fact, from the gate to the gate crew, the valets and most of the employees were in pink tee-shirts, pink hats, pink ties. Some of the outriders had pink leg wraps or pink saddle towels on their mounts.

The second annual Fillies Race For Hope card offered 10 races featuring only fillies or mares and was devoted to fundraising on behalf of breast cancer organizations, Hope Chest and the Pay it Forward Fund.

There was a silent auction, a raffle offering a trip for two to next year’s Kentucky Derby, a hat contest and the usual concessions to satisfy a crowd of 8,259.

The highlights of the day, however, were four consecutive stake races, three for thoroughbreds and one for quarter horses.

A night of heavy rain might have destroyed the surfaces of some racing venues but the main track started muddy and was upgraded to good by the start of race three. The turf course, on the other hand, was as green as the Irish countryside after Friday night’s deluge but was still good for the Saturday’s stakes events.

$100,000 Lady Canterbury Stakes

The 20th running of this race, at a mile on the turf, originally had a seven-horse field but was reduced to five starters after two scratches, Our Lady in Red and morning line favorite Hooh Why.

The Lady Canterbury has a long history, dating to its first running in 1986 when it introduced grass racing to Minnesotans. It has brought in shippers over the years who have stolen the show, just as one did on Saturday.

Talk about racing royalty. The Kentucky Hancocks are long-time Kentucky barons in the sport, and Arthur B. the III sent his Ruthville to Canterbury for a shot at the $100,000 purse.

Ridden by Dean Butler, Ruthville ran past the very tired pace-setter Rare Sunset and Geovanni Franco and finished one length in front of Bryan’s Jewell and Derek Bell. It was another 6 ¾ lengths back to Zaphyra and Scott Stevens, who were 1 and ¾ lengths in front of Rare Sunset.

Assistant trainer Chris Davis handled the winner for Michael Stidham, just as he did last weekend with the Mystic Lake Derby winner. This time, however, there was no claim of foul and stewards inquiry and the tense moments that accompany those occasions.

“Yeah, that was just fine,” said Davis, who was none too concerned about the seven-length lead Rare Sunset had at the half-mile pole. The frontrunner faded like a red shirt in a hot wash after setting the quick pace (46 3/5 and 1:11 and 1/5).

“The turf was softer than usual so I wasn’t really worried,” said Davis. “If it had been hard it would have been another matter, but I was hoping for rain. That helped us since we’re going to come from behind anyway.”

Stidham trained the winner of the 2011 Lady Canterbury, too, winning with A She’s Adorable, owned by Skip Maas.

$50,000 Hoist Her Flag

Speed burns and absolute speed burns absolutely. Or something like that.

Starlite Starbrite left the gate as if she’d been shot from a giant slingshot and led a 10-horse field from gate to wire, finishing a widening 2 and ¾ lengths in front of Burst of Life and 3 ¼ in front of Polar Plunge.

Derek Bell had won this stake three times and made it four on Saturday, giving the winner a perfect ride for trainer Thomas Amoss and owner Andrena Van Doren.

The winner set early fractions of :22, :45 and 1/5, finishing in 1:10.

When Burst of Life and Dean Butler tried to make a move in the stretch drive, Starlite simply drew off. “She gave me another gear even with all that speed,” said Bell. “She was something.”

$50,000 Princess Elaine

Tickleyourfancy and Butler turned it up a notch on the turn, taking a clear lead, and drew off down the stretch to a 2 and ¾ length victory over Tex Savitri and Tanner Riggs.

Bell and Grace of Greatness were third, another 1 and ¾ lengths back.

The winner is owned by Michael Grossman, formerly of Prior Lake and Grossman Chevrolet, now primarily of Texas but nonetheless a Minnesotan at heart who maintains a home here, too.

Grossman was pleased with the win, obviously, but for very specific reasons. “”She has been so close so many times,” he said.

Yes, she has. In 24 previous career starts, Tickleyourfancy had won four times but had finished second seven times and third another four times.

“This has been a long time coming. I feel fantastic,” said Grossman.

Grossman will take that feeling home with him to his Texas farm.

Butler had won this race once before, with Glitter Star in 2006 for owner Bonnie Baskin.

$25,000 Fillies Race for Hope Bonus Challenge

There was a nine-horse field for this one- horse race.

Huckleberry Mojito won by 1 and ¾ lengths even though it looked like more the son of Feature Mr. Jess was moving so swiftly.

Pick your adjective for this finish in 20:17:

Huckleberry crushed, squashed, flattened…

Leading quarter horse rider Nik Goodwin was on the winner. “My horse breaks so well and so cleanly,” he said. “Anytime you can get that, you usually get a winner.”

Believers Gathering and Thomas Wellington were second. Bailey Nagurski and Tanner Riggs were next.

Clyde Smith, who finished out of it on Chicks Brief Case, summed up the race tersely as he headed downstairs.

“Didn’t matter how good mine was, it was going to beat that winner today,” he said to no one in particular.

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

The Filly & Mare Bonus Challenge

Filly power is in full force on Saturday, August 4th, as Canterbury hosts its second annual Fillies Race for Hope event, raising money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer. The no-boys-allowed race card includes four stakes, one of which is reserved for the fastest girls on the track: the Fillies and Mares Race for Hope Bonus Challenge.

Saturday’s Bonus Challenge is open to fillies and mares three-year-old and up who are enrolled in the Bank of America Challenge Program. The inaugural running of this event will be held at 400 yards and offers a purse of $25,000, thanks to Mystic Lake and the American Quarter Horse Association.

Quarter horses have an annual divisional competition similar to that of the Breeders’ Cup: the Bank of American Racing Challenge Championship. Horses can be enrolled into the program at the time of foal registration for a nominal fee or entered later in their lives for a bit more. Those that are enrolled may be nominated to challenge races across the country for their appropriate divisions, culminating in a final event during the last weekend of October.

The Challenge Program is part Breeders’ Cup and part bracketology: there are races of varying distances and age levels, but horses must pass a series of qualifying trials and regional races to earn a berth in the final events. Regional races are win-and-you’re-in events, though as in the Breeders’ Cup, the finals move from track to track. The 2012 Challenge Championship is close to home this year, making its first appearance at Prairie Meadows, in Altoona, Iowa. (more about the Challenge Championship in the video below)

In addition to the six Challenge race series, many tracks offer “bonus” Challenge races; victory in a bonus race does not give the winner a seed in a final event, but it does reward those who are nominated with the opportunity to run in an additional stakes race and the chance to earn some extra purse money.

Saturday’s Bonus race has attracted some of Canterbury’s toughest fillies but also drew a few shippers and some former Canterbury starters who have been making their marks on tracks around the country. All eyes will be on the 8-5 morning line favorite, #3 Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above), as she returns to defend her freshly minted track record at this same distance: 19.625. Huckleberry Mojito has won both of her two starts at Canterbury, including the impressive performance last time out to take the Canterbury Derby. This Feature Mr Jess Filly is only improving as a three-year-old and loves this track, and boasts the trainer/jockey combo of Ed Ross Hardy and Nik Goodwin.

To Huckleberry’s outside may be the toughest shipper, #4 Believers Gathering (7-2). The six-year-old mare by Agouti spent her winter hitting the board in allowance races at Hialeah; prior to that she was a stakes competitor at Will Rogers Downs, Prairie Meadows and Remington Park. She’ll be making her debut at Canterbury as well as her first start in six months.

The other shipper to watch is the outside mare #9 Streakin Rare (4-1), who has followed a similar path as Believers Gathering but with one important advantage: she’s been here before. Streakin Rare raced against the boys at Canterbury last summer in the Great Lakes Stakes, and happened to finish second behind one of the best horses to compete over this surface, Jess A Runner, whose performance that day shattered the 440-yard track record. She was easily the best of the rest in that field and the return to this track may help her come back into form after her long layoff.

Don your best pink shirt and come out to the track to support this cause and watch some of Minnesota’s most talented ladies this Saturday! Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and shares her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Stakes Racing Recaps

There has been plenty of quarter horse stakes action over the past half dozen racing days at Canterbury Park. Who won? Who lost? Who set a new track record? Here’s a recap of Canterbury’s recent big races:

Great Lakes Stakes

Stakes action kicked off last week with the 16th running of the Great Lakes Stakes, featuring three-year-olds and up running 440 yards for $21,000. The field included winner of this year’s Skip Zimmerman Stakes, Hollywood Trickster (pictured above), a New Mexico-bred gelding who came from seventh place at the break to win by half a length. The five-year-old repeated in the Great Lakes Stakes when he broke next to last and flew up the stretch to defeat Paintyourownwagon by a neck. Hollywood Trickster was the post-time favorite and covered the quarter mile in 21.744, earning a 104 speed index. Paintyourownwagon finished second with a 103 SI, and A Faster Streaker was a close third, earning a 101 index.

Hollywood Trickster is owned by Christine Hovey and trained by Ed Hardy; Derek Bell was up for this win. Unlike many horses racing at 440 yards, Hollywood Trickster is actually attempting shorter races than he is used to; the son of thoroughbred Favorite Trick, out of a Heza Fast Man mare is a talented 550 and 870 performer. He lives up to his name at 440 yards, deceiving us into thinking he is too far behind to win but gains enough momentum to pull off a dramatic ending. His replay is the last race on the video below:

 

Northlands Futurity

Midnight Sunlight was the upset winner in Thursday’s running of the $59,800 Northlands Futurity, though a closer look at her past performances suggests that this win should not have been that much of a surprise. The filly did not break on top, but was moved quickly to second place and kicked into gear late in the race to defeat Mr Shakem Diva by a nose at the wire. Mr Shakem Diva turned in a breakout performance, leading the race until the final strides and narrowly defeating post-time favorite and fastest qualifier Bp Painted Lady. Bp Painted Lady was bumped coming out of the gate and was clear of traffic soon after; she moved up steadily throughout the race but lacked the needed kick to get ahead of her foes. The three-way photo finish suggests that we may have several future racing stars on our grounds.

Owned by Brenda Reiswig, and ridden by Stormy Smith, Midnight Sunlight earned the first Northlands victory for trainer Vic Hanson. Midnight Sunlight’s success began with her breeding; bred by Bobby Cox in Texas, the filly is by one of the leading two-year-old sires, Ivory James, out of Quick Moon Sign by Royal Quick Dash, a top Texas broodmare sire. The filly was the fastest qualifier to the $350,000 Grade 2 Oklahoma Futurity this spring at Remington Park. There were 15 qualifying trials with nearly 150 horses, and her time of 15.391 was the best on the card for the 300 yard trials. She ran second in the final to Dash for Coronas, who went on to qualify for and run fourth in the Grade 1 $1,100,000 Heritage Place Futurity, also at Remington Park.

Midnight Sunlight ran 350 yards in 17.843; Mr Shakem Diva was a nose behind at 17.846 and Bp Painted Lady ran 17.864. Each horse earned a 93 speed index. It may be time to put all three of these horses in your virtual stable: Midnight Sunlight is just beginning to show her true talent and will be one to watch in the years to come. Mr Shakem Diva had the race won at 250 and 300 yards, so be ready to put money on that one when he runs a shorter race. Bp Painted Lady closed fast at the end of the race to get up for third; in an allowance race and maybe at a longer distance, she’ll have no trouble getting the win.

 

Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby

Huckleberry Mojito did not disappoint in the Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby last Saturday. The three-year-old daughter of Feature Mr Jess won in style, leading at the first call and pulling away from the field to win by nearly two lengths. Huckleberry Mojito was the fastest qualifier to the derby with 19.97; on Saturday she stunned everyone with a final time of 19.625, setting a new track record and earning a remarkable 108 speed index. The previous track record was 16.692, set by Mr Hempens Feature in a trial for the 2010 Canterbury Derby. He lost to Time for Wilena in the final, who set the stakes record for this race with 16.699. Huckleberry Mojito now owns both the track and stakes record.

Feature Mr Jess is a leading quarter horse sire, but handicappers and breeders know that his daughters, while particularly talented, take more time than usual to mature. Feature Mr Jess fillies tend to be better as three-year-olds than in their first year, and like their sire, the longer the race the better. Huckleberry Mojito is no exception, showing tremendous improvement this year with every race.

Huckleberry Mojito was bred in Texas by Gary and Patty Peterson, owned by L M R 2011, and trained by Ed Hardy, giving him his seventh Canterbury Derby win. Nik Goodwin chalks up another quarter horse win; bet on a quarter horse for no other reason than Goodwin getting the mount this meet and you’ll hit first or second place over 90% of the time. Her replay is the second race on the video below:

 

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and shares her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography