Where’d They Go?

When looking through the day’s entries the absence of certain jockeys becomes obvious. No longer named on thoroughbreds are Jareth Loveberry, Julio Felix, Constantino Roman, Alex Canchari and Leandro Goncalves. With various protective protocols at racetracks around the country to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the opportunity for riders to work at more than one track has become nearly impossible. At Canterbury, if a thoroughbred rider leaves to race elsewhere , that rider would need to quarantine for 14 days in Minnesota before being allowed to again ride in Shakopee.

Tough choices had to be made. With Arlington Park opening last week it was not as difficult for longtime Chicago riders Roman and Felix to head back to Chicago. Loveberry was having a good meet here but his original plan before the pandemic and a delayed Arlington meet was to ride in Chicago not Shakopee and have first call for high-percentage trainer Larry Rivelli. Last week he went back to Plan A, rode nine for Rivelli the first two days in Chicago, winning four and never missing the board. On Sunday Loveberry was aboard seven for Rivelli and won three.

“I plan to make Chicago my home base,” Loveberry said. “Ride [in Chicago] nine or 10 months and two at Oaklawn.”

Leaving Shakopee was a business move but not easy for the veteran rider who began his career in 2005. “I miss it. I love Canterbury. It was hard leaving,” he said. “I didn’t pack until the morning I had to leave.”

Loveberry will be on many short-odds horses for Rivelli, who is winning at a 26% clip. Does the pressure increase when the wagering public expects a win? “I just ride the race,” Loveberry said. “Whether the horse is 80 to 1 or 1 to 5, I just ride the best I can.”

Canchari and Goncalves opted to ride at Prairie Meadows where both are in the top eight in the standings. They had been traveling back and forth but that ended last week when protocols were updated at both tracks.

So what is a jockey agent like Pete Antonucci to do? He had represented Loveberry here. He also has top rider Ry Eikleberry, but a good agent needs two riders. They don’t muck stalls or walk hots, but an agent works hard. It’s a different type of work. And Antonucci is very good at it.  “I’m working on it,” Antonucci said Saturday of finding another rider.  And on Sunday he let it be known that he would have the book of apprentice jockey Luis Valenzuela who last rode in Phoenix. He has ridden both thoroughbreds and quarter horses since beginning his career last year.

It was odds-on that Antonucci would have another jockey before long and that goal became easier when Canterbury racing officials updated protocols over the weekend for thoroughbred riders who have not been actively riding at other racetracks.

‘Any jockey coming to the state of Minnesota for the first time this season who has not had access to the jockeys’ room at another track in the previous 30 days must quarantine for at least four days once arriving in the state of Minnesota and then provide a negative COVID-19 test result. After a negative COVID-19 test result has been returned, the jockey will be eligible to gallop, work horses and be named on horses.’

Race fans will see Nik Goodwin accepting mounts on thoroughbreds soon and participating in the quarter horse program Tuesday. His wife Betty Jo Williams, also a jockey, should be found in the entries as we approach the end of the first half of the season as well. Protocols for quarter horse riders are different and do allow them to ride here with a negative COVID-19 test. They also are sequestered in a jock’s room separate from that used by thoroughbred riders.  However QH riders such as Berkley Packer and Eugenio Alberto Navarrete, Jr. won’t be at Canterbury as they would then be prohibited from returning to Prairie which offers three QH races daily.

Backside Beginning To Take Shape

Trailers carrying racehorses began pulling through the stable gate at Canterbury Park on May 9, primarily arriving from Phoenix. But soon stables from other areas such as Hot Springs, Arkansas will make their way north.

It is a slow arrival process and there now are 267 horses in stalls with more arriving daily. Joel Berndt, who wintered at Delta Downs in Louisiana, was busy today getting stalls set up as horses continued to arrive. “I’ve got a load that is 20 minutes away,” Berndt said at noon.  “It’s good to be back. Good to see things getting started.” Berndt, always thoughtful with his replies, is well aware of the struggles for many caused by the pandemic and the losses both personal and economic afflicted on fellow horsemen and the population at large. He is ready to get back to racing.

Others with horses onsite include Clay Brinson and David Van Winkle, the first to enter the grounds. Valorie Lund has her Phoenix contingent here with the Oaklawn string to arrive shortly. Sandra Sweere, Miguel Silva, Wade Rarick and Stephanie Herb also are here. Jose Silva, Jr. is expected tomorrow.

Kerri Raven, who most recently raced at Will Rogers Downs and Turf Paradise, has a stable at Canterbury. Robertino Diodoro will have trailers arriving by the end of the week.

The condition book should be released in a few days and the main track is scheduled to open May 27. “Many trainers are waiting to ship until the main track opens,” Stall Superintendent Andrew Vold said. “It will start to get very busy very soon.” Training on the training track continues each day except Mondays.

Jockeys are a major part of the racing equation and each year brings change. It was learned today that agent Pete Antonucci  will represent Ry Eikleberry once again but will also have the book of Jareth Loveberry.  Antonucci has parted ways, after 12 years and five riding titles, with Dean Butler. Former jockey Chad Anderson will now represent Butler along with Francisco Arrieta.

Loveberry was injured March 17 during training hours at Oaklawn. “I just got legged up,” he

Jareth Loveberry celebrates 2017 jockey title.

said “and the filly flipped over. I pushed away from her so she did not land completely on me.”  Just enough to break his pelvis in two places and sideline Loveberry following a week where he won five races at the rich Oaklawn meet.

“I just got cleared to ride yesterday and began breezing horses,” Loveberry said. He has been running and getting fit, promising to be ready to go come June 10.

Canterbury Park First Half in Review

by The Oracle

Before racing took a short break for the summer concerts, we passed the halfway point of the 2019 Canterbury Park live racing season. Here is a look inside-the-numbers- at what has transpired on the race track so far in 2019. The following statistics are for thoroughbred races only.

The Odds:

Favorites are winning 36% of the thoroughbred races at Canterbury Park so far in 2019. This is two percentage points lower than the national average, and one percentage point below the 2018 Canterbury meet. Fewer winning favorites can mean more lucrative payouts! The maiden claiming category has been the most formful so far this year, yielding 20 winning favorites from 44 races (45%). The least formful category so far has been the maiden special weight races, with 13 winning favorites from 49 races (27%). This category also yielded the highest priced winner of the meet so far when 32-1 Sink The Bismarck stunned a field of maidens going a flat mile on the main track. Sink The Bismarck had exited a second-place finish sprinting in a maiden claiming race, and handled the stretch-out and the rise in class with no problem. He was trained by Bruce Riecken and ridden by Eddie Martin Jr. Congratulations to the connections of Sink The Bismarck for that stunning upset!

Historically, turf racing at Canterbury Park has yielded a lower percentage of winning favorites than races on the main track. This is holding true this year, as favorites on the turf are winning at a 28% rate compared to 39% winning favorites on the dirt.

Regarding extreme longshots, there have been seven 20-1 and up winners this year. Longshot winners create giant payoffs, but it’s important to pick your spots. Playing all longshots over 20-1 to win at Canterbury Park this year would have returned only 51-cents for every dollar wagered.

The Jockeys:

Looking at the top ten jockeys in the standings, the All-Star performer for best return-on-investment (ROI) was Jareth Loveberry. Jareth is currently fourth in the standings with 28 wins, and he is returning an impressive $1.26 for every dollar wagered on his mounts. Loveberry shows 22 of his 28 wins on the main track, and he has been particularly good in off-track sprints with a 33%-win rate, including a $52 winner. Jareth has 5 winners that paid 8-1 or higher and all of those longshot wins were on the main track. An excellent first half performance from Jareth Loveberry!

Honorable mentions go out to Eddie Martin Jr. and Santiago Gonzalez, who posted first half ROI’s of 1.12 and 1.11, respectively. Eddie has made this list before and tends to find the Mystic Lake Winner’s Circle with longshot winners every year!

The Trainers:

It’s no surprise that Robertino Diodoro and Mac Robertson are dominating the trainer standings once again. However, they are known commodities that the public gravitates towards, and their respective ROI’s in the first half of this season were only 0.86 and 0.76.

The All-Star award goes to Francisco Bravo, who is returning a generous $1.60 for every dollar wagered on his horses. Of his 13 winners, 4 of them have been at 8-1 or higher and he has been equally strong on both dirt and turf. Claiming races have been his best category as he is 6/24 (25%) with an ROI of 1.93. Congratulations to Francisco Bravo for an excellent first half to the 2019 season!

Honorable mentions go out to Tony Rengstorf (1.37), Jose Silva, Jr. (1.22), Joel Berndt (1.04) and Mike Biehler (1.03) as they all had first half success for the betting public!

Summary:

That’s a brief look at how the favorites fared and who the top jockeys and trainers were over the first half of the Canterbury Park live meet from an ROI perspective. Notice that most of the leading riders and trainers from a win perspective do not show up high on the ROI list. The public tends to overbet the leading jockeys and trainers so it pays to keep an open mind. Good luck in the second half of the meet!

Robertson Sweeps State-Bred Stakes

By JIM WELLS

The owner of Honey’s Sox Appeal visits the barn where she and two of her relatives reside for now, two and sometimes three times a day. It is fortunate that he lives a mere six miles of congestion free-highway from the stable area.

Sometimes he is there after most of the equine residents have shut down their enormous engines for the day, well past nightfall. Frequently he will take a few apples along for Honey Sox or one of her relatives, the two year old, Happy Hour Cowboy, awaiting his maiden debut, perhaps a month away, and the four-year-old, Red Hot Candy.

Bob Lindgren owns eleven horses in all, including those three, and they all share a common background.

“They are all daughters, sons or grandchildren of A Js Honey,” he said. Two of her daughters, Thunder and Honey and Happy Hour Honey are currently in foal themselves.

Although it’s not written in stone, those foals have the following names awaiting them: Happy Hour Honey’s “baby is probably going to be Happy Hour Bobby,” he said. “they are all going to be Happy Hour something.”

One big “happy” family, to borrow an adjective not unfamiliar to this bunch.

Thunder and Honey has a weanling who is likely to be named Thundering Rockstar, as a nod to his sire, MacLean’s Music.

The other members of Lindgren’s brood are all with Canterbury Hall of Fame owner Paul Knapper, at his Daylight Ranch in Kentucky.

Honey’s Sox Appeal was the morning line favorite in Wednesday night’s $50,000 Minnesota Turf Distaff. The six-year-old daughter of Successful Appeal from A J’s Honey went into the race with a career record of 9-7-3 from 22 starts and earnings of $353,370… a win and two seconds from three starts in 2019.

It was not her night, however. She tired badly on the soft turf and ran out of the money. “She didn’t like it, the soft ground,” said rider Orlando Mojica.

Trainer Mac Robertson, who also sent out the winner, First Hunter, agreed. “She just didn’t like the surface,” he said.

So, her next win will have to await another day.

Lindgren bought A Js Honey as a broodmare. She was advancing in years but Lindgren was confident she had some good breeding seasons left.

There is another element to Lindgren’s stable he emphasizes. From the day they are foaled, his horses get a “human” touch.

“When I go the barn tonight,” he said the other evening, ” I’ll give a little signal when I walk in.”

Honey Sox Appeal will respond immediately to the distinctive smooch he delivers and come to the door of her stall. “It’s something all of my horses learn,” he said. “I touch them in a certain way..hopefully they know it’s me. I always wonder if these horses really know.”

He thinks they do.

He entered the barn on one time last year, in the morning, around 8 a.m., an unusual time for him to visit. Honey Sox was out of stall and on a stroll around shed row.

“All of a sudden she stopped and swung her head around,” he said. “Like she was wondering what are you doing here, it’s 8 a.m.”

The apples, carrots and peppermints he offers her throughout the rest of the day are certain reinforcements for such responses.

In the meantime, he will continue to do as he’s doing, breeding horses that will one day have a for sale tag on them.

   $50,000 MINNESOTA TURF DISTAFF

Sometimes history repeats itself in strange ways, or in this case, simply adds another chapter to an existing story several years in the making.

Twelve years ago, a horse named Hunter’s Tiger Paw was a winner at Canterbury Park, delighting the five-year-old girl (and her father, of course) who named her, Hunter Zamzow.

Wednesday night, Hunter, one of her friends and the father, Joel, watched Tiger Paw’s first foal, a six-year-old mare named First Hunter add to her mother’s legacy by winning the Turf Distaff under Jareth Loveberry, finishing 2 ½ lengths in front of Maywood Hope, who was a head in front of Some Say So, the winner of the inaugural running of this race, in 2017. The winning time was 1:30.31.

“She’s a grinder and never gives up,” said Joel Zamzow. “Jareth got her on the rail (near the 3/16ths pole) and gave her a great ride.”

Zamzow also cited another factor, the scratch of Firstmate. “With her out, there was no one left to close on (First Hunter),” he said. “That, and Jareth’s great ride when they claimed the shortest way home.”

Double Bee Sting was fourth, in front of Honey’s Sox Appeal.

Zamzow was delighted with the win, naturally. “This is why I love breeding horses,” he said. “But we’re a small operation and so we have to do things right.”

He was completely understanding of Lindgren’s role in that regard.

“Yes, he has a small operation, too.  We’re not much different.”

   $50,000 MINNESOTA TURF

The champ defended his crown in the third running of this race, finishing ¾ length in front of his stablemate to do so.

Hot Shot Kid

Hot Shot Kid, ridden by the boy of summer, Orlando Mojica, who won the Mystic Lake Derby a week ago, got to the wire in front of A P Is Loose, giving the Robertson barn a one-two finish in that race and a sweep of the Minnesota-bred stakes.

“They’re both good horses and ran well,” Robertson said, in reference to his winners.

Hot Shot took over at the head of the stretch and held off his stablemate to win this race once again as a second choice to his stablemate,who won the inaugural running of the race.

A P had a head on Twoko Bay for second.

Owned by Warren Bush, the winner finished in 1:11.94 and pushed his career earnings over $400,000

Jockey Colony Coming Together for 2019

Tampa Bay Downs race caller Richard Grunder was enjoying a beautiful April afternoon……..in Tampa, when he answered the phone.

“I saw you on the news but it can’t be as bad as they say. How’s the weather up there?” he asked.

Paul Allen, the Grunder equivalent at Canterbury, was on the other end. “It’s a disaster.” The truth, which does include snow, sleet, rain, thunder, ice and wind, likely is somewhere between but what is fact is that live racing in Shakopee begins 22 days from now on May 3.

When Grunder heads north he transforms into a jockey agent, one of the most successful in Canterbury history. He was agent for HOF rider Derek Bell during his best seasons.  This summer he will have the book for Jareth Loveberry, as he has the past two meets including his championship season in ’17.

Grunder will introduce a new face to the colony in Elvin Gonzalez, an 18 percent career winner who currently is at Sunland Park. “He is excited to get up there,” Grunder said. “It’ll be a tough meet with many very good riders but Elvin will do well.”

Last year’s top jock Ry Eikleberry will return as will Dean Butler. Eddie Martin Jr. and another new face Donnie Meche should both be here with agent Chuck Costanzo.  Others include Orlando Mojica, David Lopez, Quincy Hamilton, Leandro Goncalves, Leslie Mawing, Izzy Hernandez, Nik Goodwin, Lori Keith, and Kat Bedford. The Shakopee Kid Alex Canchari also intends to make a return after spending a season away.

That’s a deep colony competing for the best mounts. Don’t miss out when a Grunder rider brings in a big number!

Jockey Profile: Jareth Loveberry

Jockey Jareth Loveberry arrived on the Canterbury scene for the first time in 2017 and on the second day of that season won with a horse that paid $112.20. When the meet ended he had won the riding title, winning 77 times and compiling purse earnings of $1.59 million.

“Glad to be back,” he said about the 2018 meet that will last 70 racing days, three more than last year.

Loveberry worked the 2018 Oaklawn Park meet before coming back to Shakopee. He had 11 wins and more than a half million in purses.

“I had a decent meet. Won the right races.”

By the ‘right’ races he means allowance and stakes. Jareth was aboard Amy’s Challenge when she won the $125,000 Dixie Belle and again when the 3-year-old filly, who was the 2017 Canterbury Horse of the Meet, finished second in the Grade 3 Honeybee.

Loveberry joins a colony here that, in the opinion of most observers, is deeper than in past years.  Four riding champs are in the mix: Loveberry, Dean Butler (who has five titles), Ry Eikleberry, and Leandro Goncalves. Winning the right races, when this is how you earn your living, will be crucial this summer as well. Jareth began the meet with one win over opening weekend from 12 mounts, but the win was in the $50,000 Paul Bunyan Stakes. A ‘right’ race.

The Bunyan win was aboard Malibu Max for trainer Mac Robertson and owner Joe Novogratz. That trio was victorious often in 2017. In fact they took leading jockey, trainer, and owner honors for the meet. On Saturday they also teamed up to run second in the $50,000 L’Etoile du Nord Stakes Saturday with Hotshot Anna. Loveberry, who quickly became a popular rider in 2017, rode for five different trainers last weekend, hitting the board five times.

Loveberry’s career began in 2005. He has compiled more than 1,100 wins while riding at several tracks around the country.  “Canterbury is great. Great atmosphere. Good people. You get people at the races for the races,” he said. That was evident on opening night when a crowd of more than 7,500 fans celebrated the return of live racing. The next day, Kentucky Derby Day, more than 19,000 were in attendance.

“It’s going to be a good meet. It’s always competitive,” he said. “It brings out the best in you.”

ALL HATS OFF TO THE DERBY

By JIM WELLS

There are idioms galore in our language that explain the many uses of a hat, that item someone wears upon the head for effect, protocol or simply to keep the rain from drenching one’s skull.

You can keep something under one’s hat if you want to keep a secret. You might come hat in hand, looking for sympathy or in acknowledgement of wrong doing. You can take your hat off to someone in a salute to achievement. You can talk through your hat if you are trying to run for president or sell someone a car that doesn’t operate. You can throw your hat into the ring if you want to join a competition for, say, mayor of the town.

Or you can wear a hat because it is Kentucky Derby day, and the more outrageous the styling, the more apt you are to fit in. There were all sorts of examples on Saturday for the 144th running of the Derby, telecast at Canterbury Park as the part of the second day of live racing.

There were wide and narrow-brimmed hats of purple, black, white, blue, brown, grey and red, hats with large ribbons and small bows and small ribbons and large bows. There were women in hats, teenagers in hats and even small girls in hats. There was even a hat, worn in this instance by a man, that included a horse’s head on the front of the brim. One couple showed up, he in Kelly green suit, hat and tie and she in Kelly green dress, shoes and wide brimmed hat.

There are other sides to any argument, of course, or manner of reference, and one of those was pointed out by the baseball writer for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, LaVelle E. Neal III, when he asked if a winner had been determined for the finest “bonnet” of the day, taking a lot of steam out of use of the word “hat.”

Yet, a hat by any other name is just as recognizable, and tradition is still tradition when it comes to the Kentucky Derby, which drew a late-arriving crowd to Canterbury Park on Saturday.

A turnout of  19,326 watched heavy favorite Justify demonstrate that he might indeed be the next super horse; arguments have already been constructed portraying him as the next Triple Crown winner.

He not only lived up to the expectations of his backers, he did so over a sloppy track, taking command of the race under Mike Smith, who started his career at Canterbury Downs and is a member of the track’s Hall of Fame.

Saturday’s live card included two stakes races that attracted small fields and were reduced even further by scratches. The $50,000 guaranteed L’Etoile du Nord Stakes was carded as a five-horse race and was reduced to four runners after the Mac Robertson-trained Thoughtless reportedly bled during a morning gallop and was removed from the lineup.

Under Orlando Mojica, Fight to Glory went off the favorite at 3/2 and backed up that confidence with an easy win, galloping home easily in front, with four lengths on Hotshot Anna and 11 ¼ on Escape Clause.

The winner came home in a sizzling 1:09.46, the fastest six furlongs at Canterbury in two years.

Fight to Glory broke behind Escape Clause and went to the front quickly, widening an early advantage at every call.

“I just got position, tapped her a couple of times and looked back,” said Mojica. “We were two, three and four in front so I put away the stick and rode her home.”

The next stakes race on the card, the $50,000 Paul Bunyan Stakes, fared even worse after a six-horse field was reduced to three with three scratches. Jareth Loveberry, last year’s riding champion at Canterbury, brought home the winner in that one, Malibu Max, the 4/5 favorite and a two-length winner over Bourbon Cowboy.

The most significant aspect to that win, said Loveberry, was that he, trainer Mac Robertson and owner Joe Novogratz had just duplicated their first win of the Oaklawn Park meet as a trio by winning a stakes race at Canterbury too.

Now, Loveberry, Leandro Goncalves, Dean Butler and Ry Eikleberry, all champions at Canterbury,  will fight it out, first in the barns for mounts, and then aboard those horses on the racetrack, over the next 68 days of racing as they take on an exceptionally deep crop of riders.

Jareth Loveberry returns to Canterbury Park

Jareth Loveberry made Canterbury Park his summer home for the first time in 2017 and was well rewarded. He won the jockey title. He is back this season as a member of a very deep colony that includes three former champion jockeys: Dean Butler, Ry Eikleberry and Leandro Goncalves.

Backside news and Notes April 29, 2018

Horses are gradually filling the stalls on the Canterbury backside with the 70-day race meet just five days away. The May 4 opening night program will feature eight races, with entries for the first day taking place Tuesday.

Saturday’s card has two $50,000 stakes races: The Paul Bunyan and the L’etoile du Nord. Nominations for those races closed Friday. Noms and past performances can be found here.  The first name on the du Nord list is the 2017 Canterbury horse of the meet Amy’s Challenge. The 3-year-old filly however is expected to be entered Monday in either the Kentucky Oaks or the Eight Belles at Churchill.

Trainer Chris Richard will be stabled here this season for the first time. His string, which includes several Minnesota breds owned by Richard Bremer and Cheryl Sprick, is settling into barn A7, which is also where trainer Mike Biehler operates.

Last year’s leading jockey Jareth Loveberry is on site. He was injured in a training accident recently but has fully recovered and has been working horses over the track. He will be represented again this season by Richard Grunder who will also handle the business of Hugo Sanchez.

Ry Eikleberry has returned to the jockey colony. He last rode here regularly in 2015 and won the 2014 riding title. Ry also is one of the top quarter horse riders in Canterbury history. Dean Butler, a five-time riding champ, is also back. Those two share agent Pete Antonucci.

Other riders already signed in by their agents or themselves include Chad Lindsay, Israel Hernandez (who Saturday won the Bossleman Stakes at Fonner and will ride next weekend at Turf Paradise), Leslie Mawing, Orlando Mojica, Patrick Canchari, Lori Keith, and Katlin Bedford. The 2015 leading rider Leandro Goncalves also returns after a two-year hiatus.

New names on the list:  Rilardo Carpio, Francisco Arrieta, Jansen Melancon, Jake Samuels, and Kassie Guglielmino. Santiago Gonzalez, currently riding at Santa Anita, is expected here this week.

Beginning Friday, May 4, opening night of the 70-day horse racing season at Canterbury, Post Time Peach Ale will be flowing at three locations in the Canterbury grandstand as well as the Badger Hill taproom.

Available May 4

Jareth Loveberry Will Ride Again At Canterbury Park

Jockey Jareth Loveberry gave Canterbury Park a try last year for the first time. His first win came on the second day of the 2017 meet on his ninth mount. He rode Lookin Ata Runaway to a maiden win and a mutuel payout of $112.20. Immediately race fans were asking themselves ‘Who is this Loveberry?’

Jareth remained a consistent and reliable rider throughout the meet, winning 77 times and capturing the riding title while earning his connections purses of $1.59 million.

He will be back at Canterbury Park when the meet opens May 4. There was some concern about that last week however when news spread that he had been injured during training hours.

“I got lucky,” Loveberry said. “The filly stumbled leaving the gate and fell. She rolled over and kicked me in the arm.” He suffered a crack in his left forearm.  Loveberry has already received doctor’s clearance to begin work this week and plans to begin getting on horses for Mac Robertson before shipping to Shakopee for the 70-day race meet.

“I will be back and ready to race,” he said. Loveberry, whose career began in 2005, will once again be represented by agent Richard Grunder.

Grunder will also handle the book of Hugo Sanchez.  Orlando Mojica, last season’s second leading rider, will return and be represented by former jockey Chad Anderson. Ry Eikleberry, who led the Canterbury standings in 2014, will be back after a two-year absence.  Dean Butler, who was sidelined mid-meet, has been riding at Tampa this winter and will also be a mainstay in the 2018 colony. Eikleberry and Butler will share agent Pete Antonucci.