Must Be Divine Intervention

Gadzooks -  07-18-13 - R03 - CBY - FinishIt happened to Paul when he was knocked from his horse by a bolt of lightning. The best selling book of all time has numerous other examples of divine intervention, but heretofore none have been documented at Canterbury Park until Thursday night.

In fact, three examples were brought forth recently, putting the track itself in line for possible selection as a shrine.

We speak of Thursday’s third race. The results of race two were posted and mistakenly identified as race three. The winner of race two was the No. 8 horse, and as handicappers began assessing the mistake on the television screen other revealing information came to light.

“I’ve called 26,000 races and never before seen that happen,” said PA announcer Paul Allen. “The tv screen gives you the winner of the next race. The rider of the 8 horse in race three was Ry Eilkleberry. His wife (pressbox assistant Jilique) was sitting right behind us. It was a no-brainer. Free money.”

“It’s an epiphany,” said PA.

“It’s an epiphany,” said pressbox guardianJeff Maday.

So… what happened? The No. 8 horse in race three, a 3-year-old gelding trained by Miguel Angel Silva, not only got up for first but paid $35.80. His name? Gadzooks (pictured above).

Alas, the signs were all present, available for all to see, but no one bet the winner.

Not even paddock analyst Angela Hermann.

“I picked the horse second,” she said. “Did I have him in the pick four? Nooooooo.”

As another disciple from the ancient past once said: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t…”

SECOND MIRACLE OF THE WEEK

As he does every day, Scott Stevens turned his two dogs out in the field next to the stable gate to run after Saturday morning’s torrential rains. Molly, a 1 ½-year-old Boston Terrier, and Angus, a 9-year-old Bulldog, were enjoying the water, especially Molly.

“She loved it,” said Stevens.

Molly is well behaved, but the moment Stevens saw the jack rabbit race past, he knew where she was headed. The rabbit darted across Canterbury Road with Molly in avid pursuit.

Stevens was on the phone with his agent Chad Anderson at the time. When he saw the rabbit he said to Anderson, “if Molly goes after that rabbit she’s a goner.”

Stevens had spotted an oncoming car at the same time.

An instant later the car struck Molly. The driver later told Stevens that he was going 50 to 60 mph. “She must have rolled 50 yards,” Scott said.

Stevens was convinced Molly was dead but retrieved her from the road and carried her 200 yards to the stable area.

Molly wound up at a veterinary clinic in Prior Lake where she was operated on for a broken pelvis. The clinic had to call in a surgeon who performed the operation on Tuesday.

In the meantime, however, vets were calling her the “miracle dog.”

She had a broken pelvis. “In three places,” said Stevens, who knew just how she felt. He, too, had gone through the ordeal of pelvis surgery after a riding accident.

A plate and six screws were inserted into Molly’s pelvis. “It’s a miracle she’s alive,” said Stevens.

Molly will need to take it easy for several months, but she is , indeed, the “miracle dog.”

This miracle put her owner back a tidy sum – three grand.

A BLESSING IN DISGUISE

HBPA president Tom Metzen was having coffee early Saturday morning before heading to a National HBPA meeting here when the phone rang.

Tom Metzen and his wife, Karen, are Minnesotans but they own a home in Phoenix in an area where several owners are Arizona residents during the winter months primarily. A neighbor in the area watches out for the snowbirds’ homes during the summer months when they return to their other homes.

The neighbor, Ruby, was doing just that when she called the Metzens. “You have water coming out of your garage which is filled with water,” she said.

A home 1,600 miles away inundated with water and nothing a person can do about it!

Karen looked at her husband and noticed his complexion waning, turning white.

“My heart started beating rapidly,” he said.

“You need to get down here immediately to take care of this problem, Mike,” Ruby added.

Mike?

“You’ve got the wrong number,” Metzen told her.

The call was intended for a different neighbor.

GROOMS FINISHED, NOW THE TRAINERS

Nineteen participants completed the 201 course in the Groom Elite program and nine of them were certified as Elite 201 grooms after completing the five-week 101 class as well.

Two participants finished the program for the second time and were certified as Jr. Elite. Seven participants are taking the assistant trainer/trainer course that ends on Friday.

THE ORACLE SEES IT CLEARLY

The Oracle, Canterbury’s handicapper supreme, demonstrated the correct way to handicap a card on Thursday, picking six consecutive winners on races four through nine.

He got his streak under way with Mr. Cacht, a 3/5 favorite in race four under Derek Bell, who rode six consecutive winners at Canterbury on June 14, 2002.

Bell made it two in a row with Somerset Swinger in the very next race and was greeted by a fan on his way down the steps from the winner’s circle. “You’re my hero,” the woman said as Bell handed her his goggles.

Next was Gail’s Jewel and Alex Canchari at 8-5, and then City Kid and Scott Stevens and then Cachemassa Creek and leading rider Dean Butler. Wrapping it up was Sue’s Stormy with Eddie Martin, Jr. up.

Six consecutive wins was a first for the Oracle. He just missed seven when Okra Wind Free and Martin caught his pick, Rock Hard Legacy and Alex Canchari, in the final strides.

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.

Paychecks Being Decided by Inches… and Photos

Sugar Storm -  07-07-13 - R03 - CBY - FinishIt’s a game of inches (and photo finishes) this summer for the riders in Shakopee where increased purses have expanded the jockey colony and spread out available horses.

Sunday, for instance, there was a different rider in the winner’s circle after each race.

Competition is the name of the game, for mounts of any kind for most and the best mounts for the elite few.

A recent surge has three-time riding champion Dean Butler in front by five wins, with 29 to Lori Keith’s 24. Ry Eikleberry and Alex Canchari, who had a bangup week with seven winners, have 20 apiece. Eddie Martin, jr. and Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens have 18 each. Derek Bell, a six-time riding champion, has 17.

It’s been a competitive, wild race.

“Yes it has,” said Bell.

Take the third race as an example of how every inch counts. Saving ground frequently is the difference. Silver Rock Star and Keith came off the turn several horses wide and made a tremendous run at Sugar Storm and Butler up front. The difference? Not more than an inch, two at the most. Move Keith’s horse even one path nearer to the rail and it’s a different outcome.

“That would have been enough,” she said. “When I made my move I was five wide and then got fanned out.”

Paul Allen’s race call at the finish summed it up:

“It’s so, so tight,” he said. “I think it’s Sugar Storm, but it’s tight.”

Thus, Butler moved five wins in front of Keith.

It’s competitive at Canterbury this summer and the pressure is beginning to show. The hottest story on Sunday was the issue of one jockey taking a poke at another, the result of leftover tensions from the racetrack or elsewhere.

Stevens has put on a couple of textbook riding demonstrations this meet, including the seventh race on June 30 with the ride of the season.

The veteran jock is widely regarded for intuitive ability with horses, an ability to coax out whatever remains in the tank in those final strides, and that was the difference in this particular stretch dual. His horse, Alphabets Tuff Gal, had the lead from the gate, with half length leads at the half-mile and three-quarter poles. Then Alex Canchari and Dolly Peach engaged the leader, taking the lead by a half-length at the stretch call. Yet, Stevens found remaining resolve in his horse and claimed back the lead to win by a head.

Switch back to Sunday afternoon and the second race. Stevens was aboard a Mac Robertson-trained horse named Limo, the only Minnesota-bred in the six-furlong allowance. Whispering, rubbing or any form of persuasion other than the stick were useless in this instance Stevens knew, driving his horse to a win by whiskers over Thatlleavemark and Juan Rivera.

Skeptics who’ve written off Stevens because of age or injuries the last couple of years are eating their words. “He rides as if he’s a lot younger,” said one observer. “You can’t guess his age out there.”

But you can guess this, the observer added:

“Watch for Mac to start making his move now,” she said. “He’s starting to heat up.”

WAS THE GLOVE A WHITE ONE?

Jilique Eikleberry, a press box assistant in charge of player development, underwent surgery at St. Francis Hospital recently. Jilique is married to Ry Eilkeberry, one of Canterbury’s top riders.

Beforehand, her father, Jerry, mentioned that maybe her food would be served by former Canterbury rider and current trainer Luis Canchari, who also works at the hospital as a room waiter. Senor Canchari delivered Jerry’s food when he was hospitalized in the past. Jilique laughed off the possibility.

Sure enough, last Monday night,Canchari, known as Louie the glove during his riding days, arrived with Jilique’s dinner.

“I think he was a little confused at first,” she said. Canchari was familiar with Ry but not his wife.

“He knew Ry and recognized the last name and wasn’t certain who should get the food,” Jilique said.

The matter was quickly straightened out and dinner was served.

The Glove continues to deliver.

RECORDS BY THE HANDFUL

A change in the configuration of the turf course and gate placement for a majority of turf races run at “about” distances – in addition to the recent lack of rain and the subsequent firm turf course – has resulted in several track records over the past few days.

The addition of a the chute late last season and the desire to bring back a distance on the grass (one mile and seventy yards) last used in the early 1990s are partly responsible for a change in the way that “about” distance races have been conducted this year. In fact, when Teletimer – the track’s official timing company – came out to wire the course at the beginning of the meet and reconfigure the timing mechanisms for the one mile and seventy yard distance on the turf, they helped track officials properly realign the starting gate for the start of all “about” distance races. As a result, patrons are likely to see a few more track records over the course of the season… most likely at “about” distances on the lawn.

Thus far, the records have come too quickly for a rider to savor the occasion long.

Take Eikleberry who set a record on the grass this week and requested a picture for his memorabilia collection.

“It was only a record for a couple of races and another one was set,” he said.

Yes, for sure, it is a fast-paced world.

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.

Video: Walking Machines

horse007Canterbury’s hot walkers allow adequate cool down and warm up time for the nearly 1,600 racehorses on the premises. Today’s Canterbury spotlight takes you behind the scenes to learn more about the hot walkers on the backside of Canterbury Park. Narration provided by Jilique Eikleberry.

Here’s a video giving you an inside look at the walking machines. Check it out:

Video: Michelle Benson