BY JIM WELLS
There was a race on the undercard of the Preakness Stakes Saturday that featured an astounding runner named Mitole, the swiftest 3-year-old sprinter in the country, a colt with a dazzling turn of speed.
Mitole put on a show for anyone watching, leaving an entire field of horses in his wake after switching gears in the stretch drive and pulling away so smoothly it looked effortless.
The patrons at Canterbury Park saw a similar race later in the afternoon, right there on the home track, when Mr. Jagermeister destroyed five rivals in the $50,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes, winning just as easily while looking equally impressive.
There is more to say about this comparison. Mr. Jagermeister, it so happens, lost by a similar margin in his last race to this very same Mitole.
Saturday, it was Mr. Jagermeister administering the whipping, drawing this thought from rival trainer Franciso Bravo, who saddled Smooth Chiraz and Hold For More:
“I knew he’d be big trouble,” said Bravo. “He’s a monster.”
Mr. Jagermeister had 8 ½ lengths on Hot shot Kid at the wire and 11 ½ on Smooth Chiraz, with a final time of 1:10.81.
Indeed. Mr. Jagermeister, a three-year-old, delivered a thrashing to five rivals, racing against older horses for the first time. There is more to what seems to be a developing story with numerous elements to it.
Mr. Jagermeister still fools around on the track, takes his mind off business once he’s passed horses. “He thinks his job is done,” said winning rider Leandro Goncalves. “I have to keep after him.”
Despite those elements, Mr. Jagermeister is the real deal. Moments later, when the conversation had changed, Goncalves very expressively conveyed a deeper truth about the horse. “He’s a very nice colt, very, very talented,” he said.
The son of Atta Boy Roy from the Corinthian mare Frangelica is from a line of slow developers, so trainer Valorie Lund takes that element into consideration while laying out plans for her talented three-year-old.
“He’s still a baby, a big baby,” she said. “If he stays healthy, wait until next year.”
Well…local fans don’t want to wait that long, and it appears that won’t be a problem. Lund says she plans on keeping the horse in Shakopee this summer.
$50,000 LADY SLIPPER STAKES
A much more competitive race than it’s male counterpart, the Lady Slipper also had a surprise in store for bettors and the connections in the race.
Pinup Girl, sent off at 5-1, turned in the kind of effort trainer Sandra Sweere had envisioned but wasn’t positive she would get. After all, Pinup Girl can throw her weight around in certain instances.
Saturday afternoon, she confined that to the race track despite a makeup that might preclude such a demonstration at the distance. “She’s not a six-furlong horse,” said Sweere, “but she got a good ride from a good rider (Santiago Gonzalez).”
And was able to take advantage of the situation when odds-on favorite and defending champion Honey’s Sox Appeal didn’t fire in the stretch drive, after changing paths to get around Shipmate and Ta Kela.
The winner, running for the first time this year, finished two lengths in front of Ta Kela Warning and 6 ¾ ahead of Shipmate in a time of 1:12.3.
Despite a name that suggests otherwise, the winning filly can be a handful in the barn or outside of it. “She knocked me to the ground, knocked me out when I was taking her off the walker two years ago,” said Sweere, who had that on her mind after Saturday’s win.
“We have to go to the test barn with her,” she said. “Otherwise, she’ll rear up on the vets when they take a blood sample.”
That wasn’t a complaint by Sweere. She’ll take all the test barn trips she can get.
1990 PREAKNESS MEMORIES
On the morning before the 1990 Preakness Stakes, a rental car and its driver arrived at the hotel in which Minneapolis-Star Tribune columnist Pat Reusse was staying. He was there to cover the Twins against the Baltimore Orioles but while in town decided to take in the race as well. After all, a horse named Unbridled, the Kentucky Derby winner owned by Frances Genter of Bloomington, was running, giving Minnesota a stake in the action.
Reusse had agreed to an historical tour with the driver of the car, yours truly, then covering thoroughbred racing for the St Paul Pioneer Press. He had been given a vague heads-up of what he was about to visit.
He grew increasingly more interested when I pulled up to an old church and cemetery grounds. “What’s here,” he asked. “You are about to find out,” I replied.
The tombstones were ancient and the grounds included several above-ground crypts that resembled small airplane hangers. The slate fronts on some of the moss-stained crypts were broken, allowing a glimpse inside with the aid of a cigarette lighter.
After examining a few burial sites in this manner, we arrived at the goal of the visit: the grave of poet Edgar Allen Poe, better known to modern day readers for his gothic tales of horror, the means by which he supported himself while writing legitimate literature. We would subsequently drive by the home where the poet lived as a young man. There was plenty of time for doing so, since our visit to the graveyard, an ancient, spooky place, was relatively short.
Time sometimes distorts and colors memory, but I am fairly certain of the following details:
Our visit at the final resting place of the immortal Edgar Allen was completed when I turned to see my companion heading toward the front gate.
I swear he was tip-toeing while uttering the following words, in a guttural tone: “Let’s get out of here, Wells.”
FOOTNOTE: Unbridled couldn’t contend with Summer Squall in the stretch drive and finished 2 ¼ lengths back in what was essentially a two-horse race that summer.