News and Notes at Canterbury – August 4

Sunday’s feature race is the $52,600 NCQHRA Futurity. The fastest qualifier from the trials held two weeks ago was Jjsir James.

The 2-year-old gelding is trained by Randy Weidner and was ridden by Justine Klaiber  for owner Jerry Olson. In this video Randy talks about Jjsir James past, present and future.

Jockey Nik Goodwin has a mount in that futurity Sunday, but on Saturday will be at Mountaineer Park in New Cumberland, West Virginia to ride in the Grade 3 $750,000 West Virginia Derby aboard Heartwood for trainer James Chapman.

Last night the top two quarter horse trainers, Jason Olmstead and Ed Hardy, each won a race allowing Olmstead to maintain a five-win advantage over Hall of Famer Hardy. The jockey standings are much closer. Leader Oscar Delgado won the second race last night, answering Brayan Velazquez’ first race win. Delgado has a 14 to 13 edge. Goodwin is four from the leader. Owner Thomas Scheckel is atop the owner standings with seven wins, one more than Dean Frey and two more than Corey Wilmes. Expect to see many of the local quarter horses at the Prairie Meadows meet that begins Aug. 19.

Nationally acclaimed rock band the BoDeans will play two sets on the Mystic Lake Music Stage Saturday. The first is slated to begin at 4:15 and the second follows the races at 5:40.

Look for as news story featuring Nik Goodwin and Betty Williams on WCCO TV (channel 4 locally) Saturday at 6pm and again Sunday at 6am. [ Watch it here ]

There will be a Canterbury flavor to the $75,000 Manitoba Derby on Monday at Assiniboia Downs. Trainer Joel Berndt is sending Lothenbach Stables’ Diamondmaze, winner of his last two starts in Shakopee, to the Winnipeg racetrack. Jockey Quincy Hamilton will be there to ride.  Robertino Diodoro has a pair entered. Canterbury Hall of Famer Scott Stevens will ride Tizfun for Diodoro, who last year won this race with Inside Straight for owner Randy Howg, who also owns Tizfun. Inside Straight went on to win a grade 2 at Oaklawn this winter.  The entire Assiniboia card is simulcast at Canterbury on Monday.


Trainer Profile: Randy Weidner

By Katie Merritt

Trainer Randy Weidner now calls Ocala, Florida home, but he was raised in Northfield, Minnesota, only about 45 minutes from Canterbury Park.

Growing up in a family that always had a foot in the equine industry, be it with barrel racers or backyard show horses, Weidner grew up riding and working with the animals. Before he came to the racetrack, he followed the rodeo circuit around the country, where he rode bucking broncs for 12 years.

Weidner got his first taste of horse racing almost by accident. “I met a friend that sold me a Quarter Horse off the track that we were going to sell as a barrel horse,” he explained. “But we ended up bringing it back to the track because they needed help filling races.” Randy decided he preferred horse racing to the rodeo, and got a job as farm manager for trainer James Lackey. When Lackey consolidated his two farms into one, he sent Weidner to the racetrack as his assistant. In the meantime, Randy had also gotten into the game as an owner, and had horses in training with different trainers across the country. Once he had spent ample time working as an assistant, he decided it made sense for him to take out his trainer’s license and train his horses himself.

That was about seven or eight years ago, and since then, Weidner has kept a steady barn of about 12 horses in training, the majority of which at this point are for other people. Throughout the year, he follows the Quarter Horse meets around the country before heading home to Florida. Originally, he moved to Florida to race his horses at Hialeah over the winter months, but now he takes that time to work on getting Thoroughbreds ready for the two-year-old training sales in Ocala. “They breeze an eighth of a mile like we do our Quarter Horses so there are a lot of similarities,” he pointed out. Breaking young horses and preparing them to run is one of Weidner’s favorite parts of training horses. “I like seeing the progression that the young babies make when you start with them,” he said, “They learn so much so fast!”

One horse who seems to have learned his lessons particularly well is JJSir James, the fastest qualifier for the NCQHRA Futurity. “Since we broke him he’s been mister professional,” Weidner said with a smile, adding “And he’s proven to be pretty quick, too!” Though they expected him to qualify based on what he’d been showing them, the Weidner team didn’t expect to find themselves in the top spot. “Being the fastest qualifier, you can only go one direction. You stay the same or you do worse,” said Weidner. Two years ago, he had the fastest qualifier and the horse got caught in the final yards to finish third. “I’m hoping that this horse has got just a little bit more than that one did. JJ Sir James really seems like he’s the real deal,” he said with a smile.

Justine Klaiber, a jockey who has only been riding for about a year, rides first call for Weidner and will be in the irons on ‘James’ on race day, this Sunday. “She’s tough,” Weidner said of his jockey, “What she lacks in experience, she makes up for in talent. She’s going to be a superstar one day.”

Win or lose, Weidner enjoys coming to Canterbury Park to run his horses, and not just because he’s a native Minnesotan. “Canterbury is a super track,” said Weidner, having worked at many tracks around the US. “This is one of my favorite places to be, by far. So many people come here to watch the races. That makes it so much fun!” Weidner eventually sees himself venturing more into pin-hooking young horses, but he plans to continue training and to keep coming back to Canterbury every summer.



Gopher caps, shirts and other exhibits of maroon and gold were sprinkled throughout Sunday’s crowd as they enjoyed a day of racing, highlighted by qualifying for the NCQHRA Futurity, and an appearance by P.J. Fleck himself.

Yes, indeed, that was the new University of Minnesota football coach rowing a small boat across the infield pond accompanied by Goldie Gopher at the staff of a golden flag with a maroon M that wafted in the steady Sunday breeze. The occasion created visions of another great leader, at another time and place, on the Potomac, the stars and stripes waving grandly in the winter air.

Yet, it had to be disappointing to fans who wondered why the new Gopher coach rowed across the pond instead of walking on it.

P.J. demonstrated what it means to Row the Boat, his mantra, and said he had enough steam left to row the return trip if need be. Later in the winner’s circle during an interview with track announcer Paul Allen, P.J. talked about the Rose Bowl and other great things in the Gophers approaching future.

Yes, that is correct. Canterbury’s own P.A interviewed the University of Minnesota’s P.J.

All in all it was a heady mood, certainly not detracting from that enjoyed by trainers who qualified their horses for the North Central Quarter Horse Racing Association Futurity on August 6.

Among the more heady, without even a confirmation of that truth, had to be trainer Jason Olmstead, who has won the last three runnings of this race, last year with Heza Prospect, in 2015 with Eagles Span and 2014 with Corona Concierge.

Olmstead has more than a gambler’s shot at making in four straight after qualifying five horses in Sunday’s trials.

That is correct, of the 10 qualifying horses for the grand finale, five of them were saddled by Olmstead, who is leading the way in the trainer’s standings in a duel with Ed Ross Hardy.

Five qualifying races were part of Sunday’s card.  Dickey Bob, an Olmstead horse, won the first heat to qualifying in a time of 17.936 seconds, third fastest of Sunday’s qualifiers. Dickey Bob is owned by Lunderborg, LLC and was ridden by Brayan Velazquez.

The winner of race two, Marfilmio, was the second fastest of Sunday’s qualifiers, with a time of 17.909 seconds. Ridden by Ismael Suarez Ricardo and trained by Vic Hanson, the horse is owned by David and Debra Harsche. A second qualifier from that race was First of 15, ridden by Nik Goodwin, trained by Olmstead and owned by Richard Tobin. The qualifying time was 17.953. Fourth best of the day.

Cappy, the winner of the third heat, just made the list of qualifiers with a time of 18.173 seconds. Cappy was ridden by David Pinon, is trained by Casey black and is owned by Larry Sharp. Cappy’s time filled the final spot among the 10 qualifying horses.

JJSir James had the fastest qualifying time of the day, winning the fourth race under Justine Klaiber in 17.890 seconds.  The overall winner on Sunday is trained by Randy Weidner and is owned by Jerry Olson.

A second qualifier from the fourth race was I Told You IM Fancy, clocked in 18.083. That horse was ridden by Nik Goodwin and is another Olmstead trainee.

Lady Eagle 123 won the fifth and final qualifying race in a time of 17.966, fifth best of the day. She was ridden by Oscar Delgado, is trained by Rudy Ramirez and is owned by Larry Rice. High Valley Girl, under Elliot Bachicha, Jr., and trained by Charlton Hunt qualified from the same race with a time of 18.159. She is owned by Butch Webb.

Cannalytical qualified just in front of Lady Eagle from the same race in a time of 18.112. She was ridden by Goodwin, is trained by Olmstead and is owned by Gene and Faye Reeves.



It has been proposed once before and this additional suggestion is not based on settled science but on mounting evidence: Canterbury should consider running a 67-day meet featuring ostrich, zebra and camel racing each year, mixing in a thoroughbred/quarter horse day here and there.

Evidence suggests that would reverse what is now occurring:  Solid attendance for horse racing and stupendous attendance whenever the wild beasts run.

Just imagine, sizeable crowds to watch the critters of the desert sands and average attendance of 16,000 to say 21,000 for horse racing. Canterbury Park would become the envy of the racing world. The brain trusts at Santa Anita, Churchill Downs and Belmont would be forced to bow down to an enterprise in existence only since 1985.

“Hey, did you see what they drew at Canterbury on Friday,” someone would say in a California or New York racing boardroom. “They ran thoroughbreds and quarter horses there yesterday and had a crowd of 29,000.”

“Yeah,” someone would say, “but what was the per capita?”

“Never mind the per cap,” someone would reply.  “They sold 33,000 hot dogs,  the same number of pizza slices and several hundred gallons of Pepsi products, not to mention 300 barrels of beer.”

Per capita spending on wagering alone, say 50 bucks, would rise to $450 when concessions are added.

Granted, such a shift to extreme day racing on a full-time basis could not be made without possible pitfalls, but right now, based on what happened at Canterbury Park on Saturday (a crowd of 13,315) and in years past, this latest proposal seems sound.

The perfect name for the 2017 rendition of Extreme Day, as it is known, should actually be Nik Goodwin day, based on how he kicked off Saturday’s proceedings.

Goodwin, you might recall, celebrated the 1,000th thoroughbred winner of his career recently. Saturday, he became the all time leader in quarter horse winners at Canterbury, riding Lota James in the Dash in a Flash Stakes, an Extreme Day 110 yard sprint. That gave him 108 overall, one more than Ry Eikleberry. Then,  in the Duck Race, he made trainer Randy Pfeifer a first-time winner this meet aboard Choral Song.

“Been a good day,” Goodwin said matter of factly.

A good summer.

Before we recount the events of the day, there are additional suggestions to be made. For instance, in the race called the Battle of the Surfaces, pitting horses on the turf against others on the grass. It is an amazing spectacle, watching two races being run as one. Yet it could be improved. Next year, why not add the training track beyond the main track and turf course to create even more excitement. Maybe even run quarter horses on the training track, for an added dimension. Just imagine, watching three races at the same time but it is actually one race. What a rush. What a reason to skip the cabin, fishing, boating on the St. Croix. It would be better than the State Fair, Valley Fair and the Scott County Fair all in one.  A three for one deal, so to speak.

As good as Extreme Day already is, it can certainly benefit from implementing these suggestions.

It has been several years since a turf horse has won the battle of the surfaces, but that changed on Saturday.  Nutty Futty, ridden by Leslie Mawing, was the winner, breaking from the No. 2 hole on the grass. The next three finishers also ran on the grass. There were 11 starters on the turf, nine on the dirt.

Former pressbox assistant Michelle Benson, the winning rider in last year’s Camelbury Dash, now works in advertising for the Thoroughbred Daily News in New Jersey. She shipped in Saturday, hoping to defend her crown aboard last year’s winner, Rock N Spit.


Her mount did not break well and ran even worse and she was of the mind afterward that she had been aboard a ringer, simply tagged with the same name. “I don’t think it was the same camel,” Michelle said. “The hump was different.”

The winner was June’s rider of the month, Oscar Delgado, riding Alexander Camelton. “Hey, no trophy, no belt buckle,” Delgado lamented afterward.

The Spurt in the Dirt, a two-furlong affair, was won by World Famous Sam T with Larren Delorme in the irons.

Then there was the Canterbury Endurance challenge, a 1 7/8 mile marathon on the grass that went to Born Force and rider Chad Lindsay in a strange twist of affairs. On extreme day:

Orlando Mojica, aboard Blue Bomber and gliding effortlessly on the lead, did something extremely extreme: He stopped riding halfway through the race, thinking it was over. With another lap to go, Mojica stood in the irons at the finish line.  Visions of Bill Shoemaker aboard Gallant Man in the 1957 Kentucky Derby, when the Shoe blew a win, standing in the irons too soon.

As for what occurred on Saturday, think nothing of it, compadre, a friend of mine once punched out at noon, thinking the lunch hour was the end of the day. Could happen to anyone.

The last two extreme races on the card were won by the same rider, Justine Klaiber. She rode her ostrich, Mark My Bird, beautifully, taking advantage of her erratic competitors who ran all over the place, to hit the finish line first.

Then she rode her zebra, Earn My Stripes, to win that race while her fractious competitors bucked their riders into the dirt or simply refused to run. Here is where another suggestion could improve conditions for this race, as suggested in the past. A couple of lions and/or hyenas nipping at their heels would keep these striped fellows running in a straight line.

There you have it, all of the ins and outs of extreme day 2017, and the suggestions that will make 2018 even grander.

Justine Klaiber A Winner At Canterbury Park

It did not take jockey Justine Klaiber long to find the winner’s circle at Canterbury. The 21-year-old, riding in Shakopee for the first time, was victorious in Saturday’s second race.

Learn more about Justine in this video.


Video by Michelle Blasko

Notes from the Weekend

Canterbury newcomers Cecily Evans and Justine Klaiber both rode their first winners at this track on Saturday. Klaiber got her first win in the 2nd race on the quarter horse Jess A Chance for trainer Randy Weidner.

After dueling in the early parts of the Quarter Horse dash, Jess a Chance took charge late to win the race by ¾ of a length. Evans crossed the wire first later in the card, in the 8th race aboard Emily’s Entourage for last year’s leading trainer Mac Robertson. Emily’s Entourage drew clear from the rest of the field to win the race by a decisive 3 ½ lengths.

Jockey Betty Jo Williams made a return to the saddle last weekend after a 5 year hiatus. Williams has 109 wins, 131 seconds and 152 thirds from 1,070 starts. In 2011 she was a finalist for the Canadian Sovereign Award for leading apprentice rider. A couple of serious injuries and later becoming a mother have kept Williams from riding, but she has decided that she is ready to make her comeback here at Canterbury Park this summer.

Thursday night racing, more popularly known as Buck Night, returns this week with a 6:30 p.m. post.  Admission is just one dollar and there are several $1, $2 and $3 food and beverage specials throughout the facility.

Entries will be taken Wednesday for the Saturday program that will include three $50,000 stakes races. Two are new, the Minnesota Turf and the Minnesota Turf Distaff, and one, the Dark Star Cup, honors a Canterbury Hall of Famer, the late Dark Star.

Dark Star was a fixture at Canterbury beginning in the mid-eighties. He never missed an opportunity to promote Minnesota horse racing on his long running WCCO AM radio program as well as on KFAN where he worked until passing away five years ago.  He hosted the replay show, The Canterbury Report, which was the longest running sports show in the Twin Cities, for two decades.

Many friends will gather Saturday to remember Dark Star, including former Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly, who will present the trophy to the winning connections of the Dark Star Cup.

Post time Saturday is 1:45 p.m.

Saturday is also Belmont Stakes day. Advance wagering is available as follows for both the Friday and Saturday Belmont programs.

Available Thursday, 6/8/17:

Advance wagers for Friday’s Belmont card (race 11 is the Belmont Gold Cup)

Advance wagers for Saturday’s Belmont card (race 11 is the Belmont Stakes)

Thursday’s Belmont card

Belmont Gold Cup/Belmont Stakes Double Wager (race 11 on Friday and race 11 on Saturday)

New York Stakes/Metropolitan Handicap Double Wager (race 9 on Friday and race 9 on Saturday)


Available Friday, 6/9/17:

Advance wagers for Saturday’s Belmont card (race 11 is the Belmont Stakes)

Friday’s Belmont card (race 11 is the Belmont Gold Cup)

Belmont Gold Cup/Belmont Stakes Double Wager (race 11 on Friday and race 11 on Saturday)

New York Stakes/Metropolitan Handicap Double Wager (race 9 on Friday and race 9 on Saturday)


Available Saturday, 6/10/17:

Saturday’s Belmont card (race 11 is the Belmont Stakes)

Advance wagering on Canterbury races is always available one day in advance.