Let’s Talk About Success

By Mari Ballinger

One week. Two racetracks. 24 races. 11 wins. Those kind of statistics can only belong to one jockey, and that is Orlando Mojica.

On August 4, 2019 Mojica raced at Canterbury Park, finishing first aboard Unfailing in a claiming race. Hours later, he was on a flight to Canada to race at Assiniboia Downs in the $75,000 Manitoba Derby on August 5. Again, he finished first. Then it was back to Minnesota to race another four days in a row. Has anyone enrolled this guy in a frequent-flyer program? He finished the weekend off with another nine wins at Canterbury Park, including the Minnesota Derby, Blair’s Cove Stakes, and Princess Elaine Stakes.

Then, he napped.

Mojica’s professional riding career started nearly 20 years ago so he is used to chaotic weeks that sometimes include traveling to multiple racetracks. His dad and brother were both jockeys so there was no question that Mojica would follow in their footsteps. His professional debut was on April 13, 2000 at Garden State Park where he placed second. A few weeks later, Mojica had his first career win aboard mare Partner’s Cilo in a claiming race for $10,600.

At that time, Mojica’s successful career had just started. Since then, he has been in the Top 100 jockeys in the country nine times, ranking 12th by Wins in 2008 and 10th by Wins in 2009. But the accomplishments don’t stop there. Mojica bagged 1,000 wins on April 26, 2008, a short eight years after his debut. Now, that deserves a round of applause.

In life, there are also hardships. Mojica has had his fair share of injuries, including broken ribs, a knee, and lower back. But, he hasn’t let that get him down.

“Obviously riding is very dangerous, but I am very blessed to be doing what I love,” said Mojica. “When something happens, I get right back up.”

At Canterbury, Mojica rides for several barns including the top two trainers, Robertino Diodoro and Mac Robertson, and has 54 wins so far this season. After racing ends in Shakopee, Mojica will travel home to Indiana where he can race and spend time with his family.

Mojica rode in four races Thursday night at Canterbury Park, finishing first in a starter allowance race aboard gelding Jonny’s Choice. He will race here again Friday and Saturday then travel to Canada on Sunday for the Canadian Derby to ride for Diodoro at Century Mile.

Leg Up Day Sunday, July 28

Sunday you can support jockeys injured while riding at Canterbury Park.

The Leg Up Fund was established in 2014 to provide temporary, transitional support to riders injured at Canterbury as they recover and return to the saddle. The fund provides direct resources to Canterbury Park jockeys who are hurt while riding and helps give them a “Leg Up” while they recuperate. Each year, our staff, horsemen and racing fans come together to raise money for this important cause.

Jockeys are athletes but unlike other pro athletes they have no guaranteed contracts. They only get paid when they ride.  Many jockeys have disability insurance for serious injury but no safety net for injuries that may sideline them for a month or two. Leg Up Fund, with your support, provides that safety net.

“Leg Up Day is an important event for the racing community and I expect they will embrace this fundraiser once again,” Senior Director of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman said. “Our racing fans, racehorse owners, and trainers, have historically been the most supportive and generous of any in the nation. I know they will support the fund again this year.”

Leg Up Day is your chance to support injured Canterbury Park jockeys and enjoy a day at the races. Come out Sunday, July 28 to support the jockeys with a silent auction, raffle tickets, or you can sponsor a rider or simply make a donation.

Riders make contributions to Leg Up themselves with a per mount fee every race day. Horse owners also contribute with a starter fee every time their horses race.

On Sunday jockeys will be available for autographs and photos during the first four races. The silent auction begins when gates open and runs until post time of race 7. Auction items included a barbed wire sculpture, wine tasting party from Total Wine, horse memorabilia, co-hosting a Pre-Race show with Brian Arrigoni, St. Paul Saints tickets, and much more.

Post time is 12:45 p.m.

He Has The Bloodlines

It’s what every little boy dreams of: growing up to be exactly like their dad. For Mark Anderson, his dream was extra special because he got to follow in the footsteps of his brother, dad and grandpa. Originally from Grand Island, NE, Anderson grew up at the horse track and knew his calling was in the racing industry.

In 1996, Anderson and his older brother Chad, who was riding at the time at Canterbury, moved in with track announcer Paul Allen in Chaska . The younger Anderson’s professional riding debut was February 13, 1998 in a claiming race at Fonner Park. His riding career lasted a memorable 14 years with 776 wins, 818 seconds and 909 thirds. Anderson raced all over the country, including Portland Meadows, Emerald Downs, Canterbury Park, and Turf Paradise.

Talk about keeping a family tradition alive, Anderson did just that. His grandpa Irving Anderson won the Lassie Stakes at Portland Meadows when he was a jockey and his dad Wayne Anderson did the same thing. Mark ventured to Portland Meadows and on November 16, 2008 won the exact same race.

Some people are all for grand entrances while Anderson loves to make a grand exit. His favorite memory at Canterbury Park was winning his last race here June 18, 2011. He was aboard gelding Mad About Fuzz in a claiming race and drew off to victory.

Anderson hung up his tack after riding December 8, 2012 at Portland Meadows, although his work at the track didn’t stop there. Months later, he moved to Minnesota and started working at Canterbury Park as a clocker.

Now, Anderson works in the Canterbury racing office as an entry clerk during the week and clerk of scales on race day. In the winter he is a jockey agent at Turf Paradise. Mark can be seen in the Canterbury winner’s circle after each race with a smile on his face, which demonstrates his true love of racing.

Jockeys’ Weight, Leverage Decline


What has become increasingly more evident as the current racing meet progresses is that jockeys can’t throw their weight around this summer.

Not like they used to, anyway.

Not even talented, veteran riders can take anything for granted.  An accomplished jock can’t lock up a barn, make it an exclusive source of mounts this summer, not for long anyway, not if he’s not riding in peak form or something approaching it.

Certainly, specific stables stay with respected riders as they always have, but now they might not rely on only one or two as they’ve done previously. They don’t have to. And it doesn’t matter what breed of horse they stable.

“We’ve never had this many good riders, quarter horse and thoroughbred at the same time,” said Ry Eikleberry, a two time thoroughbred and three-time quarter horse riding champ.

In the thoroughbred colony alone there are five former riding champions. In addition to Eikleberry, Jareth Loveberry, Leandro Goncalves and Dean Butler, a five-time riding champ, are making their presence felt.  And, although he has been struggling to gain attention from trainers after a lengthy hiatus from racing, Derek Bell, a Hall of Fame six-time riding champion has joined the ranks in recent weeks as well.

And previous riding champs are being challenged daily by Franciso Arrietta, who has led the rider standings much of the summer after winning nearly 200 races over the winter at Turf Paradise. Eikleberry is right on his heels, one win back heading into Saturday’s card. Orlando Mojica, who is having a solid summer with 19 wins, including the richest race of the summer, the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, is next, two in front of Butler.

Loveberry  is one back of Butler and two in front of wily veteran Eddie Martin, Jr., with Goncalves next.

The quarter horse colony is loaded, too. Nik Goodwin, a two-time champion, has nudged into the lead in recent days and has one more win than defending champion Cristian Esqueda. Josh Romero is third, two out of first and two in front of Eikleberry and two-time champion Jorge Torres and four other riders _  Eugenio Alberto Navarrete, Jr. Mark Jasso, Marcus Swiontek and Cody Rodger Smith.

“It’s been a lot more competitive this year, really tough,” said Torres. “Three years ago there were one or two really good ones, even two years ago, but now it’s really changed, a lot tougher.”

Good riders abound this summer. It is a trainer’s paradise. The conditioners have the upper hand. One false move, and an unforgiving trainer might dish out his equivalent of a pink slip, his version of walking papers. Conditioners have the leverage, the ball is in their court and they are playing it on a daily basis.

“Never been like this before, with both quarter horses and thoroughbreds,” said Goodwin. “Now, anybody in the (jockey’s) room can win if he gets the right horse. It’s very competitive, very tough.”

During meets in which two or three riders stood out, they had the upper hand, could reject mounts they didn’t want in favor of those they did, or have an agent spin them off one excellent mount for an even better one if it became available.

Not any more, not with same impunity anyway. Not with so much talent on the grounds.

Nowhere is it any more apparent than during morning workouts that riders with ability abound.  As they scout the barns to work horses in an effort to secure mounts, riders are confronting a new reality.

“Every morning there is a lineup at my barn,” said trainer Shawn Davis, who will then survey the applicants. “All I have to do is point at one of them,” he said, ” and say, ‘You. I’ll take you.’ ”

Another Esqueda Joins Jockey Colony


His throat and mouth were so dry that he could barely spit. His stomach acted as if he were on the Wild Thing across the way at Valley Fair, and the muscles in his arms and legs were in knots.

“I couldn’t even move in the paddock,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it was happening.”

Eighteen years old and riding a race for the first time, Erik Esqueda was aboard a 2-year-old filly name  CC Senator Page in the opening race on Friday’s card. He scanned the crowd as he and the horse circled the paddock ring, seeing little and hearing nothing but the buzzing of bees that invades the mind at such times.

Not until he reached the racetrack did the alarm bells ring and bring him back to the moment and what was about to occur.

The first race is always like that, no different than a fighter crawling between the ropes for the first time, a singer debuting on stage, a comedian staring into the haze of the audience out front. The mind goes blank and the body moves as if on automatic pilot.

Once he reached the track for the post parade everything started to fall into place, return to normal. “It seemed just like being on the track in the morning then,” he said.

Esqueda took his mount out of the no. 1 hold for trainer Jason Pascoe and when they crossed the wire seconds later they were not among these who hit the board, but race one was behind him then, out of the way.

Esqueda had a mount in the second race as well, but was delayed more than once by well wishers on his way to the jockeys’ lounge after his debut.

He started toward the steps but turned to greet railbirds saluting him, and then reversed course to retrieve some goggles as mementoes for young fans surrounding the winner’s circle.

There were accolades yet to come from young sons of quarter horse trainers at the track, Austin Hardy, 10, and Ryder Olmstead, 9.

“Hey, great race,” said Hardy.

“Way to go,” added Ryder.

Esqueda  was in a hurry to reach the jockeys lounge and don the necessary silks for the second race. In his haste he started to make a left hand turn into the photography studio before correcting and turning into the lounge.

“Hey, he doesn’t even know which way to go,” his young admirers chuckled.

With race no. 1 behind him, Esqueda donned the blue and white silks of his owner, Marshall Wier, for race two and was given a leg up on a 4-year-old mare named Valiant Suzy.

As he reached the track a different feeling overcame him this time, as he looked toward the rail and saw his mother, Veronica, and sisters, Emily, 13, and Allie, 8, who had made the 10 hour drive from Ligonier, Indiana.

“I had no idea they were coming,” he said. “That was beautiful, just great.”

It was a special race for the entire family as Erik rode Valiant Suzy hard to the wire, losing by a neck to Cristian Esqueda, his older brother, and Mansory.

“Hey, that makes us one-two-three,” chirped the young Olmstead, after Ry Eikleberry piloted One Famous Ocean from the same barn to third place in the race.

The Esquedas will enjoy a brief family reunion with their mother and sisters over the next two or three days. But there is work to do, as well.

Cristian has mounts in the first three races today.

Erik, the newest jockey in the family, has been named on a filly named La Tabaquera , an also eligible, for race two.

From England to the States and Always A Winner

By Mari Ballinger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Tale of Two Deans

By Noah Joseph

Over the years, many jockeys who rode regularly at Canterbury became fan favorites and etched their names into history. Jockeys like Derek Bell, Paul Nolan, Scott Stevens, Ronnie Allen Jr., Donna Barton, and Chris Valovich all became Minnesota racing legends. However, two that really stand out were two jockeys with the same first name and incredible riding abilities; Dean Kutz and Dean Butler.

Dean Kutz was not only a supreme rider at Canterbury, but also around the Midwest, winning at many tracks in major races, including eight graded stakes wins. Kutz rode at Canterbury Downs through the 80s. He was a patrol judge for most of the inaugural 1985 season before riding his first race on Labor Day. He won his first race at Canterbury on Lassie’s Dutches on September 6. Kutz won his first Canterbury title in 1987 with 158 wins, a Canterbury Park or Downs record, and he won another title 1988 with 146 wins. He rode at Canterbury until the end of the 1989 season. He made occasional appearances at Canterbury Park in the mid to late 90s and early 2000s, and rode for part of the 2002 Canterbury season. Kutz died of cancer in 2004. He’s a member of the Canterbury Hall of Fame.

Much like Kutz, Dean Butler came to Canterbury and instantly became a favorite. He made his first Canterbury appearance in 2006, and won his first ever Canterbury mount on Squall Line on May 6, 2006. He won three consecutive riding titles from 2009-2011 and two more titles in 2013 and 2016. He’s ridden some of the best horses in Canterbury Park history such as Glitter Star, Chick Fight, Nomorewineforeddie, Hold for More, and Sky and Sea. He’s ridden for top trainers who ship to Canterbury such as Bill Mott, Michael Stidham, and Michael Tomlinson. He’s third in the rider standings currently with 38 wins, and he’s also a surefire future Canterbury Hall of Fame member.

Kelsi Harr Makes A Dream Come True

By Rebecca Roush

Growing up around horses, Kelsi Harr had always “dreamed of becoming a jockey,” but she always saw that idea as being “a little far-fetched,” she said. After her father purchased a horse for her when she was just 5-years-old, Harr took every chance she could to work with and ride horses. She later took up barrel racing at local rodeos. “I couldn’t get enough of it,” Harr recalled.

Harr’s mother was walking horses at Oaklawn Park when Harr began attending college in 2010. She was invited to hot walk and work with the horses part-time. Enamored with the atmosphere, Harr made the decision to change her career path and take on the job full-time that winter. It was at the track that she met her now fiancé, Robert Cline, a horse trainer at Canterbury Park. She continued to take on various jobs at Oaklawn over the years before making the decision to begin her professional riding career weeks ago at Canterbury Park.

Her first career mount also brought Harr her first win while riding Bandit Point on June 17, Father’s Day. “It was a very special moment,” Harr said. “My dad was here cheering me on and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off my riding career.” The 25-year-old rider credits her father for piquing her interest in horses and says it “all started with him.”

Being new to Minnesota, Harr says she enjoys the area and finds it a good place for her daughter, Lacey (6) to be. “Everything I do is for that little girl,” Harr said. Harr plans to stay riding at Canterbury for the meet and then head back to the family’s home in Arkansas when school starts up for Lacey.

Having the ability to work with the horses before riding them is something that Harr believes gives her an advantage. “By working in the barn and being around these horses as much as I am, I really get to know them,” she said.

In the days leading up to a race day, Harr says that there is a lot of excitement while things come together in the barn. “It really gives you something to look forward to,” Harr commented. “There is a lot of energy in the air as everyone anxiously hopes that the horse does well.”

Since receiving her first horse Harr has had a “love for the animals and a passion for riding,” she said. “It took me a while to realize that this could all be a reality, but I am sure glad that I did.”

The Great Schindini: Former Rider Became a Trainer

By Rebecca Roush

While some may know Scot Schindler from his days of racehorse riding, most now know him for the horses he trains and owns. Growing up in Fessenden, North Dakota, a town of less than 500 people, Schindler began riding his family’s “ponies” at a local track and slowly moved on to racing Thoroughbreds.

In the mid-80’s Schindler began riding professionally at tracks in the Midwest and Canada before branching out and racing across the country. He made it to Canterbury Park in 1991, where he rode off and on over the years and earned two quarter horse jockey titles. “I had the opportunity to race all over,” Schindler recalled. “I couldn’t stay still most of the time.”

Schindler finished his professional riding career in the fall of 2005 with a lifetime win record of 900 from 8,307 starts. He rode Qs and thoroughbreds, and also had a win on a Arabian at Arpahoe Park in Colorado. He is the third winningest quarter horse rider in Canterbury history. This was not the end of his career in horse racing however.

After retiring from riding, he decided to stick to his passion for racing and purchased “a few yearlings at sales in Kentucky for a bargain when the economy had crashed.” He continued to own horses with his brother, trainer Jeff Schindler. In 2015 Schindler received his training license so he could begin working with the horses himself.

Since taking on the young horses, Schindler has “had to work very hard to get them to where they need to be,” he said. “Even though what I do takes a lot of time and hard work, I have had a lot of help and guidance along the way.” Schindler says that since making the decision to own horses he has learned how important it is to “be humble and realize that this business has its ups and downs.”

The “Great Schindini”, as many call him, currently owns two horses and trains them with the help of his wife, Laurie. His horse, Schindlers Risk is a 9-year-old Gelding that has been with him since the beginning. His other is a 4-year-old Filly named Maria that is owned in partnership with Bob Schwerzler, a long-time friend of Schindler and a former Canterbury Park employee. The partners have seen recent success from Maria when she won a claiming race on June 29 at odds of 29 to 1.

When Schindler is not busy on the backside of Canterbury tending to his horses’ needs or in the stands cheering them on, he enjoys golfing and spending time with Laurie and her children, Aaron and Kaylin. “This job keeps me very busy, but I am lucky enough to live just a mile from the track, making it easy to be on call,” he said.

The horse racing industry has been a longtime passion for Schindler. “I can’t imagine my life without it,” he commented. “The only thing left for me to wish for is to retire healthy and happy someday,” he added.

Kassie Guglielmino now riding at Canterbury Park

By: Rebecca Roush

Kassie Guglielmino, originally from Northport, Washington, is one of several female riders at Canterbury Park this season. This is Guglielmino’s first year in Shakopee, but she has been riding races professionally since 2012. She has had more than 1,400 career starts and 224 wins, earning $1.06 million in purses for her connections. Guglielmino has also won multiple stakes races throughout her career.

The 23-year-old rider knew she wanted to race since a young age. After growing up on a cattle ranch in northern Washington, Guglielmino had gained plenty of experience with riding horses. With limited connections she relied on her father and his friends to guide her into the world of horseracing.

Living just 10 miles south of the Canadian border, she began racing at small ‘backyard tracks’ near home before moving on to larger tracks throughout Canada. Guglielmino made her professional racing debut when she was 17 at Sunflower Downs in Princeton, British Columbia where she finished fifth on a horse named Absolute Magnitude.

The element that Guglielmino says sets Canterbury apart from the other tracks where she has raced is the fan involvement and the atmosphere. “The whole town seems to love the racetrack, which is different from a lot of places,” said Guglielmino. “It’s really fun to be in a place where everyone is really into the races.”

Kassie Guglielmino 5-12-18 CBYfavorite part about riding in a race is taking in the excitement from the fans and experiencing the highly energetic atmosphere. “On race day the thing I look forward to, aside from winning, is the response that we receive from the crowds. There is nothing else like it.”

When she is not busy racing, Guglielmino often goes hiking and checks out local attractions with husband and fellow jockey, Jake Samuels. “We both like to get out and experience new things wherever we are,” she said. She also enjoys trail riding when she can.

One of Guglielmino’s future racing goals includes breaking 500 wins and depending on the length of her career she would “love to retire with 1,000 wins.”

It is clear that Guglielmino has passion for what she does. “She is a real horse girl,” trainer Francisco Bravo said of the jockey. “She really knows her stuff and the horses seem to like her,” he added. Last Friday Guglielmino notched her first Canterbury win, going gate to wire on Awesome Emmit, a horse trained by Bravo.

“I can’t imagine stepping away from racing and doing anything else right now,” she said. “I absolutely love it.”