View From the VOX……Can You Believe This?

The Lady Canterbury is my favorite race at Canterbury Park, and this year’s rendition came up good.

The Lady C, Northbound Pride Oaks, Mystic Lake Mile, Mystic Lake Derby and Honor the Hero are the marquee events for today’s Canterbury Park Turf Festival. Racing commences at 4:30 pm, and tickets can be secured here at the website.

It’s easy to “honor the hero” when reminiscing about the Lady Canterbury. K Z Bay’s the name, and upsetting the 1997 cast at 32-to-1 is the game. Eliminating the horses I have owned K Z Bay is my all-time favorite CBY horse.

At 17 “hands” she was as beautiful a horse as you’d ever see. The “behemoth mare” looked like a colt, and was super muscular. She may have intimidated foes into defeat before her races started due to her imposing physique.

She was owned and trained by the late Bob Ryno of tiny Wood, S. D. Ryno I don’t think ever had a string of horses that was greater than two, but when you own K Z Bay you really just needed one.

That’s part of what makes the Canadian-bred mare’s legend so compelling – it shows even a farmer from Nowhere, South Dakota can realize dreams and win a signature race. K Z Bay was everything to Bob Ryno, and she absolutely became a fan favorite.

She dominated the 1997 Lady Canterbury and was ridden to perfection by Paul Nolan. She finished her career 8-for-17 at Canterbury, and the daughter of Charlie Barley and Golden Seal would race until 1998.

KZ Bay, as we say around these parts, was a “Canterbury Classic.”

TODAY’S LADY C:

Maybe the one Firstmate, 12-to-1 on the morning line, can be the 2020 version of K Z Bay? She’s owned by Barry and Joni Butzow of Eden Prairie, horse owners for decades who never have won the Lady Canterbury. Too, a Minnesota-bred never has won this marquee race.

Firstmate, a Minnesotan, just won the $50k Minnesota Turf Distaff under a wonderful ride by new CBY rider Roimes Chirinos.

Interestingly, Chirinos jumps off Firstmate to guide Beach Flower, the defending champ. She’s 8-to-1 on the morning line and is trained by Mac Robertson, the most dominating trainer in the history of this track.

The morning-line favorite is Weekend Envelope, a filly shipping in from Churchill Downs with earnings of $220,858.

Nolan Cheers On Vikes In Opener

BY JIM WELLS

Sunday arrived with an immediate question _  which jersey for the  Minnesota Vikings season opener:

Brad Johnson, Jared Allen or Adrian Peterson ?

As it turned out, No. 14, the Johnson pullover, seemed right.

The choice of ball cap was simple, ….plain, with the Vikings logo on the front.

Paul Nolan, former champion rider at Canterbury Park, a native of England and long-time favorite among Shakopee fans, arrived in plenty of time to take in the season-opener with friends in the track’s pressbox, wearing colors appropriate to the occasion.

Nolan won the riding title in Shakopee in 2006 and was known as the sod surgeon for the rides he gave horses on the turf course, for his ability to negotiate the lawn with finesse and precision. He could easily have been referred to as something such as “Big Money” also, for his ability to bring home the high-priced winners.

Nolan’s success at Canterbury is reflected yet in the all-time rider standings. At the start of the meet that will end with cards on Friday and Saturday, he was fourth in all-time earnings with $8,553,829, second in all-time starts with 5,515, and fourth in all time wins with 685.

He was injured in a riding accident at Will Rogers Downs in April, 2017, and has been confined to a wheelchair since. The Vikings opener gave him the opportunity to leave behind for a few hours some of the drudgery, mental anguish and physical discomfort that accompanies his daily life. And it provided his wife, Sherry, with a rare respite, too.

Sunday was dedicated to tales of yore and, of stories about the episodes in a rider’s life, Nolan’s in particular, and friends arrived sporadically to share the afternoon: Steve and Dorothy Erban, the Star-Tribune’s Rachel Blount, Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens, jockey Patrick Canchari, press box magistrate Jeff Maday, Canterbury blogger Jim Wells

Story number one involved the Erbans, who were on the backside when they heard of Nolan’s confab in the pressbox. They arrived with tales of their own, since Nolan rode for them at one time.

The horse in particular was Chasin Mason, named for their daughter, Mason, and winner of the 2006 Minnesota Oaks. Owned by the Erbans and Marion Davidson, Dorothy’s father, Chasin went 1:44.24 under Nolan that afternoon.

Nolan asked the owners after his first work aboard Chasin Mason not to let anyone else ride the horse. “You know, training a racehorse is an easy thing to do if you have someone galloping her who knows what he’s doing,” Erban said.

Chasin was/is not without her foibles either. A fussy eater, her owners gathered up the best they could find of nearby grasses and made what they came to refer to as a Mason Salad for the Oaks winner.

“The development of that horse was all Paul Nolan, Erban added.

Of course, the day would not have been complete without reference to Nolan’s greatest Canterbury triumph, aboard K Z Bay in the 1997 Lady Canterbury, worth $150,000 that year. She paid $67.80 as a winner and claimed a spot among the track’s legends.

Nolan chuckled when reminded of the scene at the local hangout in Wood, S.D., trainer/owner Bob Ryno’s hometown. A fellow in a local bistro, among those watching the race, put a hole in the ceiling with his head while jumping up and down on a table.

Oh, but more enjoyable yet was the boxing contest in which Nolan participated at Beulah Park one year.

The participants shared headgear used in previous bouts as well as boxing gloves. “It was terrible,” Nolan recalled, “the headgear were all sweaty from the previous user, and the boxing gloves were soaked, too.”

Then, of course, those punches to the noggin…..

“My head was ringing all night long,” Nolan added.

He won his first bout, then lost on points to the fellow who made it to the finals. “”I was so glad I didn’t win,” Nolan said. “That head ringing was awful.”

And how about the the Fourth of July celebration in Denver, where Nolan spent several weeks at the Craig Hospital after his accident.  As an Englishman, he thought a little ribbing of the U.S. lads was in order. “He wore an English Cap with Union Jack and attached a small flag to his electric wheelchair that said, “Happy Treason Day, peasants.”

And so it went, on and on throughout an afternoon of cheer and reminiscence.

And a Vikings victory….

A History of the Lady Canterbury

By Noah Joseph

One of the oldest stakes race at Canterbury Park is also one of the most prestigious. It is the Lady Canterbury Stakes. The one mile turf race for fillies and mares ages three and up will be run for the 25th  time on Sunday as one of the day’s three stakes races. The Lady Canterbury has been able to attract some top quality in its past and still does today.

Run as the first turf race in Canterbury history on Memorial Day 1986, the first running was won by the Australian-bred Sauna, owned by Summa Stables and Allen Paulson, trained by Richard Cross, and ridden by Hall Of Fame jockey Chris McCarron.

Sauna wins inaugural Lady Canterbury

Summa Stables won the Lady Canterbury again in 1989 with Down Again. Richard Cross was the winning trainer again, and the rider was Corey Black. The year before, French-bred Balbonella, owned by Maktoum al Maktoum, trained by Neil Drysdale, and ridden by Marco Castaneda took the race, defeating future two-time Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Bayakoa, who was making her US debut.

Balbonella

Run as a Grade 3 in 1990 and 1991, the race continued to thrive, despite then Canterbury Down’s financial and attendance struggle. The race was not run in 1992 and the track closed after that year’s meet and remained closed until 1994. The race returned with track’s reopening in 1995, and was won by Go Go Jack, who set a track record and stakes record in the process. K Z Bay pulled off the biggest upset in the race in 1997 for owner and trainer Bob Ryno and jockey Paul Nolan.

K Z Bay paid $67.80 to win in 1997 Lady Canterbury

After a brief hiatus after the 1998 edition, the race returned in 2003, and has been strong ever since. By far the most impressive winner of this race in recent memory is Awesome Flower, the only two-time winner of the race. She won off-the-turf editions in 2013 and 2014 for owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Michael Maker.

Every year, the Lady Canterbury has a strong field, and this year’s running is expected to be the same. And one horse, owner, trainer, and jockey, will have their name added to the list of winners in Canterbury’s most prestigious race.

NOLAN BACK IN THE SADDLE…at HOME

Paul Nolan

BY JIM WELLS

He was known first as the Turf Doctor and later as the Sod Surgeon but given a choice there was no doubt that he preferred the latter.

“Surgeons make more than doctors,” Paul Nolan said with a grin Saturday night, discussing the past in the jockeys lounge.

Yes, Paul Nolan, the champion rider at Canterbury Park in 2006, winner of the $150,000 Lady Canterbury in 1997, one of the best grass riders in Shakopee during a time and before that regarded for his ability to win aboard longshots.

It was aboard one of those longshots, the redoubtable KZ Bay, that Nolan got the career boost he was hoping for with that stunning Lady Canterbury win.

“Everyone has one special horse in their life that makes a difference,” Nolan said. “KZ Bay was mine. She turned things around, jump-started my career.”

KZ Bay and Nolan found a place in the hearts of Minnesota racing fans that day, as well as those gathered at trainer Bob Ryno’s home hangout in Wood. S.D.

As friends of Ryno’s gathered to watch the race via satellite at their favorite watering hole, one of them put his head through the ceiling while jumping up and down on a table during the stretch run.

If everyone has a special horse, many riders have something that hovers over them like a Mesozoic-era albatross, and Nolan had his in 2010. “The accident,” he said, softly. “The one that hurt Scott (Stevens) so badly.”

It happened on the runway, the stretch at Canterbury Park, a pileup that sent Stevens to the emergency ward via helicopter and Nolan to the hospital himself with broken bones in his back, an accident that sidelined him for the next 10 months.

By the time he returned in 2011, the meet was under way and trainers had already settled on their riders or were reluctant to use someone working himself into racing condition. He didn’t regain the touch and considered retirement.

Nobody actually said it but in his imagination the words were loud and clear. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. He was at a low point, not riding with the same authority he had before the accident the previous year, or at least perceived that way.

“Yeah, and there was a guy spreading things about me,” he recalled Saturday night. Nolan was imagining what retirement might hold when he got a call asking if he would gallop for Mike Stidham at the Fair Grounds. He took the job and in no time at all was riding again.

In the time since he won two riding titles at Assiniboia Downs and another at Houston. As if to prove he still has the old touch aboard the longshots, Nolan brought in a horse named Uncle Lott at Lone Star Park two weeks ago that paid $105.

Yet, Canterbury is where he got the career jumpstart he needed, where he rode the 1000th winner of his career. Now he is back for the remainder of the meet at Canterbury Park, within a few minutes of his home in Bloomington. Naturally, his wife, Sherry, is pleased to have him home. Right? “Well the grass gets mowed,” Nolan added with another wry grin. “The cats looked at me like who the hell are you.”

Nonetheless, Nolan is now in position to make an easy time of a yearly requirement, taking Sherry to the first day of the Minnesota State Fair. In the past few years, he had to make the drive from Winnipeg to Bloomington to fulfill that requirement. “It has to be on opening day,” Nolan added, once more with the grin.

That’s an easy assignment this time around.

NOLAN BACK IN THE SADDLE…at HOME

Paul Nolan

BY JIM WELLS

He was known first as the Turf Doctor and later as the Sod Surgeon but given a choice there was no doubt that he preferred the latter.

“Surgeons make more than doctors,” Paul Nolan said with a grin Saturday night, discussing the past in the jockeys lounge.

Yes, Paul Nolan, the champion rider at Canterbury Park in 2006, winner of the $150,000 Lady Canterbury in 1997, one of the best grass riders in Shakopee during a time and before that regarded for his ability to win aboard longshots.

It was aboard one of those longshots, the redoubtable KZ Bay, that Nolan got the career boost he was hoping for with that stunning Lady Canterbury win.

“Everyone has one special horse in their life that makes a difference,” Nolan said. “KZ Bay was mine. She turned things around, jump-started my career.”

KZ Bay and Nolan found a place in the hearts of Minnesota racing fans that day, as well as those gathered at trainer Bob Ryno’s home hangout in Wood. S.D.

As friends of Ryno’s gathered to watch the race via satellite at their favorite watering hole, one of them put his head through the ceiling while jumping up and down on a table during the stretch run.

If everyone has a special horse, many riders have something that hovers over them like a Mesozoic-era albatross, and Nolan had his in 2010. “The accident,” he said, softly. “The one that hurt Scott (Stevens) so badly.”

It happened on the runway, the stretch at Canterbury Park, a pileup that sent Stevens to the emergency ward via helicopter and Nolan to the hospital himself with broken bones in his back, an accident that sidelined him for the next 10 months.

By the time he returned in 2011, the meet was under way and trainers had already settled on their riders or were reluctant to use someone working himself into racing condition. He didn’t regain the touch and considered retirement.

Nobody actually said it but in his imagination the words were loud and clear. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. He was at a low point, not riding with the same authority he had before the accident the previous year, or at least perceived that way.

“Yeah, and there was a guy spreading things about me,” he recalled Saturday night. Nolan was imagining what retirement might hold when he got a call asking if he would gallop for Mike Stidham at the Fair Grounds. He took the job and in no time at all was riding again.

In the time since he won two riding titles at Assiniboia Downs and another at Houston. As if to prove he still has the old touch aboard the longshots, Nolan brought in a horse named Uncle Lott at Lone Star Park two weeks ago that paid $105.

Yet, Canterbury is where he got the career jumpstart he needed, where he rode the 1000th winner of his career. Now he is back for the remainder of the meet at Canterbury Park, within a few minutes of his home in Bloomington. Naturally, his wife, Sherry, is pleased to have him home. Right? “Well the grass gets mowed,” Nolan added with another wry grin. “The cats looked at me like who the hell are you.”

Nonetheless, Nolan is now in position to make an easy time of a yearly requirement, taking Sherry to the first day of the Minnesota State Fair. In the past few years, he had to make the drive from Winnipeg to Bloomington to fulfill that requirement. “It has to be on opening day,” Nolan added, once more with the grin.

That’s an easy assignment this time around.