The Quinonez Name Means Success At Canterbury

The Quinonez name is synonymous with success in the early days of Canterbury Park.  Jockey Luis Quinonez won the riding title five times here, from 1995 to 1999. He is sixth in all-time wins at the track with 548. This season his younger brother Alonso Quinonez is carrying on that tradition of success.

“My brother did so well here,” Alonso said. “That opened a lot of doors for me because they already know him and my entire family. So that makes it a lot easier for me but of course I’ve got to get the job done.”

And that he has.

Alonso did not arrive with only a connection to the past. He came with legit credentials, even if he was an unknown quantity to many of the trainers that make Shakopee their summer home.  This is a multiple graded stakes winning rider. A veteran of the game.  Alonso has won 11 graded stakes in a career that began in 2006. That includes five Grade 1s . He had an incredible journey aboard a filly names Intangaroo in 2008 winning the G1 Santa Monica, G1 Humana Distaff and G1 Ballerina, eventually finishing sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint that fall.

Minnesota Oaks winner Hotasapistol

Last Wednesday Alonso had a mount in the $100,000 Minnesota Oaks aboard Hotasapistol. The Oaks was dominated by brother Luis from ’95 – ’97 and again in ’99. It did, but maybe should not have, come as a surprise to many bettors when Hotasapistol won the Oaks and paid $22.60. The ride was a masterpiece of patience. In four days of racing, Alonso had won 10 races including the MTA Sales Graduate Futurity.

“He’s in the zone,” jockey agent Richard Grunder, who sees jockeys in the same light as any athlete, said. “The only sport I ever played was basketball. If you shoot from the outside and you have confidence, it goes in. If you hesitate, it’s an air ball.”  Alonso is not shooting air balls. He had a difficult 2019 but now is back in the groove. “His confidence is up,” Grunder said. “He can ride with any of them.”

Luis had a certain flair about him. A cool confidence. He exuded class and grace in interactions with owners and trainers. Everyone wanted Luis to ride for them.  Alonso has that same panache. And if you don’t want Alonso to ride for you, then you are not paying attention.

A Derby Mount for Luis Q?

 

Canterbury Park Hall of Fame jockey Luis Quinonez won the Southwest Stakes, a Kentucky Derby steppingstone, Monday at Oaklawn Park aboard Suddenbreakingnews for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Known as ‘Luis Q’ or simply as ‘The Q’ to his fans, Luis won five consecutive riding titles at Canterbury from 1995-1999. He has made the occasional stakes race appearance at Canterbury over the years but has not called Shakopee home since 2001. Luis has won 548 races at Canterbury, fifth most in the history of the track.

The Southwest (watch the replay here. Suddenbreakingnews is #2x) was Luis’ 13th graded stakes win. The 49-year-old has never had a mount in the Kentucky Derby. If Suddenbreakingnews runs well in the Rebel March 19, his next expected race, then he becomes a legitimate player in the Derby conversation.

HPWS Satellite Saturday

Canterbury will offer one final chance to win an entry plus airfare and accommodations for the 2016 Horse Player World Series at The Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.  Saturday’s HPWS Satellite allows entrants to make 10 mythical wagers on 10 races of choice during tournament hours. For each 25 entries, one player wins a trip to Vegas for the March 31-April 2 annual event that should award the winner more than $400,000. Entry to the Canterbury contest is $100. Find the rules here.

Belmont Day at Canterbury Park

Gold Medal Dancer - Minnesota HBPA Distaff - 06-07-14 - R08 - CBY - Inside Finish600x300

 

            Sometimes the past and present intersect in unexpected ways, as they did Saturday in Canterbury Park’s winner’s circle, a dominant rider from days gone by celebrating after the first of two stakes races, a reigning champion in a similar mood after the second of those events.

            Luis Quinonez won the first of five consecutive riding titles in 1995 in Shakopee and was right back where he has been countless times before after the $75,000-guaranteed Minnesota HBPA Distaff, catching second choice 5/2 Every Way by a head at the wire aboard the favorite, 6/5 Gold Medal Dancer.

            “Some things never change,” a bystander said to Quinonez. “I  still know how to get there,” he responded.  “So, does she.”

            Quinonez said his horse didn’t break like he wanted. “I had to weave  through horses to give her a chance to win,” he said.

            Both stakes races were scheduled for 7 ½ furlongs on the turf but were moved to the main track because of the heavy rain. At first glance, Gold Medal Dancer appeared to benefit from the change. Quinonez wasn’t so sure.

            “She’s won on the turf (in her only start). I think she can do well anywhere she runs,” he said.

            Jimmy Simms, trained by two-time national champion conditioner Steve Assmussen had an easier time of it in the boys race, the $75,000 Brooks Field Stakes . With Dean Butler, champion rider in Shakopee four of the last five seasons,  in the irons, Jimmy Simms finished 3 ¾ lengths in front of Stachys.

            Butler sized up his win in succinct fashion.

            “A pretty classy nine-year-old (gelding). He knows how to win and so does the trainer,” Butler said.

            A crowd of 11,742 turned out hoping to see a Triple Crown champion but to no avail. California Chrome left his A game at home and finished in a dead heat for fourth.

             Quinonez,  who dominated the rider standings Canterbury Park’s first five seasons, walked into the jockey lounge Saturday and was  hit by an immediate thought.

            “I couldn’t believe how many years had gone by,” he said.

            Many of the faces were familiar, riders, valets, a general employee here or there. ” A familiar face stuck his head inside the silks room, where Quinonez was carrying on a conversation, with a bit of sarcasm.

            It was Nate Quinonez, Luis’s stepson.

            Racing is a small world, in many, many ways.

            Luis Quinonez ened Canterbury Park in 1995 with the first of five consecutive riding titles before moving south, eventually to Oklahoma where he has lived since.

            He spent nearly all of last summer at home healing from a broken neck at Churchill Downs, where he intended to ride for the first time but didn’t get started.

            He was in Shakopee Saturday to ride in the two stakes races on the card, and dropped a bit of news in the process.

            “I might come back for some of this meet,” he said. “If not, probably next summer for sure.”

            The reason, clearly, is the stable purse structure at Canterbury. “Yes, the purses are good here,” he said.

            Quinonez has been riding this summer at Lone Star Park in Dallas, driving three hours from Jones, Okla., for Thursday through Sunday cards before returning home to be with his family the remainder of the week.

            He arrived in Shakopee ready to race at Canterbury Sunday, but with a minor handicap.

            He trusted his valet in Dallas before leaving home. “I asked him if I should bring my rain clothes, ” he said. “He told me no.”

by Jim Wells       

Racing Free Visits Canterbury

RacingFreeThere was a visit to the racing office to start things off and then a trip to the Minnesota Racing Commission and after that a visit with horsemen throughout the grandstand and beyond.

Danielle Bryan, director of marketing for Racing Free, was pitching the benefits of her program to anyone who would lend an ear on Thursday, selling an additional incentive program for drug free racing to horsemen competing at Canterbury Park.

Generally, the program has made inroads with the quarter horse industry and is expanding into the thoroughbred ranks too.

Bryan,24, is an animal science major from Purdue University and Indiana native with a longstanding love of horses. With three years of work at the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie, Okla., Bryan had a background that Micah McKinney and Leslie McKinney, founders of Racing Free, found appealing. The opportunity to work was clearly too good to pass up from Bryan’s viewpoint and she joined Racing Free during its inaugural season in 2012.

The program works on incentives to help promote clean racing and additional safeguards for horses.

Bryan has visited most of the major quarter horse tracks and is now focusing on visiting thoroughbred tracks. She was clearly pleased with the reception she got from Minnesota horsemen and Canterbury Park.

“This is a wonderful racing program here,” she said while winding up her visit to Minnesota Thursday night.

Bryan said she got a cordial reception from most horsemen she spoke with as well as racing office officials and the racing commission.

Basically, her program works like this: owners register their horses with the organization for a $300 fee per horse. At the conclusion of a meet, registered horses are rewarded $1,500 per win if the horse has a clear drug test in each race. A single violation will eliminate the horse from the program for a year.

The program includes a breeder incentive program which allows a breeder “to purchase a voucher membership into the Racing Free Incentive Program. For $300, a breeder may purchase and publicize the voucher for his or her racehorse to be a member at any one participating track in the program.” If the horse is sold, the new owner is allowed to enter the horse into the program at any one participating track. A drug free win is worth $750 to the new owner and the same amount to the breeder.

Trainers, owners and jockeys with the most racing free horse wins are awarded bonuses at the end of the meet as well.

Bryan encourages anyone interested in the program to visit the organization’s website at www.racingfree.com.

The organization states its program is “designed to reward industry participants that stand against performance-enhancing drugs and desire a level playing field in racing. As the program expands, the Racing Free team will be working with tracks to determine how to improve testing methods.”

QUINONEZ ON THE MEND

Gedda Quinonez was at Canterbury Park for the races Thursday night, enjoying a trip home for a wedding this weekend.

She is the wife of Luis Quinonez, a Canterbury Hall of Fame rider who won five consecutive titles in Shakopee.

Quinonez is recuperating from broken vertebrae in his neck, the result of a morning accident at Churchill Downs the week before the Kentucky Derby. It was to have been Quinonez’ first meet in Louisville.

Instead, he is recuperating at home in Jones, Okla. “He would have loved to have been here,” Gedda said.

Doctors told him he would need three months to heal but he was “pretty much healed in six weeks,” Gedda said. “He just had a good meet at Oaklawn and was really looking forward to riding in Kentucky.”

Quinonez had surgery to repair an injured knee during his rehab. He and Gedda have four children: Nate, 27; Lexie, 18; Ryan, 16 and Alayna, 14.

Lexie will be a freshman at the University of Oklahoma. She intends to study biochemistry.

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.

Wearing Many Hats & Cleaning Many Silks

It’s a wonder that Nate Quinonez doesn’t dream in Technicolor given the kaleidoscope world of hues and paint palate combinations that inhabit his life much of the week.

For 2 ½ hours or more before first post each day, and at periods throughout the card, Quinonez is occupied with sorting and cleaning the correct silks for each rider in each race on the card.

There is also the matter of matching saddle cloths with helmet covers – a much more straight-forward proposition – each according to the horse’s post position in a race. Red goes with No. 1, white with No. 2, blue with No. 3 and so on.

Keeping straight the silks of 700 different owners and trainers takes an organized mind and system.

It’s a big job that goes unnoticed unless Quinonez makes a mistake. Although many of the bigger tracks in the country require each owner to have his own silks, that is not true at Canterbury. In some cases, the silks are the trainer’s. There is also a clothes rack with “house” colors for a horse whose owner or trainer is without silks.

Upon arriving each day, a jockey will find in his or her locker the silks for each race, one on top of the other in the order of use. Whenever an owner has horses in more than one race and his silks are soiled during the first out, Quinonez puts the washer and dryer to use and has them clean and ready for the next race.

Quinonez, if you don’t recognize the name, is the stepson of Canterbury Park Hall of Fame rider Luis Quinonez, who won riding titles in Shakopee for five straight meets starting in 1995.

Nate grew up at the racetrack and attended kindergarten and first grade in Shakopee, before his father moved his tack and family to Jones, Okla., and began competing at Remington Park.

When he came of age, Nate, 27, returned to Canterbury and worked in various capacities – hot-walking, grooming and then galloping horses.

He is more active today than at any previous time in his life, rising at 4:50 a.m. each day to gallop. When he returns before the races, he has the silks room to handle and is valet to four riders as well – Tanner Riggs, Dean Butler, Bobby Walker, Jr., and Adolfo Morales.

“Some people only want to do one job,” he said, “but this is a chance to make extra money by doing more than one thing, so I do it.”

Quinonez always knew he would do something at a racetrack. Following his stepfather’s footsteps was out of the question early on. Now 6-1 and 175 pounds, he was already too big by the time he got seriously involved in riding and began galloping at age 20.

“It would be fun, riding,” he said, “but I was always too big for it.”

He left Canterbury last autumn for Pleasanton, Calif., where he broke babies and galloped horses seven months.

This year he is considering Delaware and working for trainer Mac Robertson once the Canterbury meet concludes.

Canterbury Park is always in his plans, as it is in 2013. “Each year that I come back I make more money than before,” he said.

Clearly then, among the many colors in Quinonez’s daily life, green might be his favorite.

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.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Wearing Many Hats & Cleaning Many Silks

It’s a wonder that Nate Quinonez doesn’t dream in Technicolor given the kaleidoscope world of hues and paint palate combinations that inhabit his life much of the week.

For 2 ½ hours or more before first post each day, and at periods throughout the card, Quinonez is occupied with sorting and cleaning the correct silks for each rider in each race on the card.

There is also the matter of matching saddle cloths with helmet covers – a much more straight-forward proposition – each according to the horse’s post position in a race. Red goes with No. 1, white with No. 2, blue with No. 3 and so on.

Keeping straight the silks of 700 different owners and trainers takes an organized mind and system.

It’s a big job that goes unnoticed unless Quinonez makes a mistake. Although many of the bigger tracks in the country require each owner to have his own silks, that is not true at Canterbury. In some cases, the silks are the trainer’s. There is also a clothes rack with “house” colors for a horse whose owner or trainer is without silks.

Upon arriving each day, a jockey will find in his or her locker the silks for each race, one on top of the other in the order of use. Whenever an owner has horses in more than one race and his silks are soiled during the first out, Quinonez puts the washer and dryer to use and has them clean and ready for the next race.

Quinonez, if you don’t recognize the name, is the stepson of Canterbury Park Hall of Fame rider Luis Quinonez, who won riding titles in Shakopee for five straight meets starting in 1995.

Nate grew up at the racetrack and attended kindergarten and first grade in Shakopee, before his father moved his tack and family to Jones, Okla., and began competing at Remington Park.

When he came of age, Nate, 27, returned to Canterbury and worked in various capacities – hot-walking, grooming and then galloping horses.

He is more active today than at any previous time in his life, rising at 4:50 a.m. each day to gallop. When he returns before the races, he has the silks room to handle and is valet to four riders as well – Tanner Riggs, Dean Butler, Bobby Walker, Jr., and Adolfo Morales.

“Some people only want to do one job,” he said, “but this is a chance to make extra money by doing more than one thing, so I do it.”

Quinonez always knew he would do something at a racetrack. Following his stepfather’s footsteps was out of the question early on. Now 6-1 and 175 pounds, he was already too big by the time he got seriously involved in riding and began galloping at age 20.

“It would be fun, riding,” he said, “but I was always too big for it.”

He left Canterbury last autumn for Pleasanton, Calif., where he broke babies and galloped horses seven months.

This year he is considering Delaware and working for trainer Mac Robertson once the Canterbury meet concludes.

Canterbury Park is always in his plans, as it is in 2013. “Each year that I come back I make more money than before,” he said.

Clearly then, among the many colors in Quinonez’s daily life, green might be his favorite.

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.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Dean Butler – The Pro

He’s not apt to give you a high five, a slap on the back or rap knuckles with you. It is often difficult to gauge just what’s stirring within him because his usual demeanor is that of a focused, take-charge individual.

To Dean Butler, the horse racing business is all business. There is no drama, no changes of direction, no ifs, ands or butts.

“He’s very professional, doesn’t miss anything. He’s not a guy you have to worry about missing an appointment,” said Pete Antonucci, Butler’s agent for the fifth consecutive meet at Canterbury.

Of course, it might be argued that Butler, 41, is exactly the kind of rider his agent represents. Antonucci had the book for Donna Barton and Luis Quinonez at one time, riders with very similar work ethics.

Butler’s professional attitude, work ethic and talent set him upon a successful pattern well before he made the decision to skip Ellis Park and head to Canterbury Park in 2006, where his father-in-law, Bernell Rhone, had a stable of 50 horses.

He married Rhone’s daughter, LeAnn, the year before, and she was carrying the first of their two daughters, Kayleigh, when they arrived in Shakopee.

Butler, now in his 20th season as a rider, already had credentials when he hit Shakopee, having won four riding titles at Philadelphia Park and one at Atlantic City.

There were 10 riders in front of him when he finished the 2006 meet in Shakopee with 25 wins. He finished fifth the next year with 39 wins and was third in 2008 with 70 winners. He won his first title in Shakopee the following season with 72 wins and won the next two meets with 76 and 83 wins.

Bernell Rhone would have told you at one time that he didn’t relish the notion of his daughter living the nomadic life of a race-tracker, but two granddaughters, Kayleigh and Kendall, in the last five years have clearly softened if not eliminated that concern completely.

And the trainer, who uses his successful son-in-law frequently in races, doesn’t dislike the business side of the relationship either.

“This has been profitable for both of us,” he said.

Everybody in the Rhone barn, for that matter: Rhone’s wife, Cindy, the barn manager; LeAnn, who gallops and helps run the operation. The Rhones’ son Russ is a farrier with substantial business at the racetrack.

The Butler girls get an early start to the day. They are up at 5 a.m. and it’s off to the babysitter’s shortly thereafter. After he finishes galloping for the morning, their father picks them up between 9:30 and 10 a.m. at a nearby barn and they rejoin the Rhone clan. ”

Butler’s work ethic might account for his serious countenance, at least part of it. “He’s thinking all the time,” Bernell said. “He thinks a lot, keeps track of horses and makes mental notes for the next trip. He can remember what a horse did three weeks earlier and he can tell you what happened in the race.”

That library of knowledge might be limited to fewer racing domains in the coming seasons.

Typically, Butler will head to Remington Park after the Canterbury meet and then to Tampa Bay Downs. Now, the deal with Mystic Lake and the possibility of a longer race meet in Shakopee has the Butlers hopeful of altering their lives to a two-track schedule: Canterbury summers and early autumn, Tampa Bay in the winter months.

Dean and LeAnn met on a blind date in 2003 and clicked from the start. Butler describes the meeting as one of the truly fortuitous events in his life. “I’ve been very lucky,” he said. “I met the love of my life, we have two great kids…”

The list, of course, goes on and on. He didn’t even get to the subject of winning riding titles, of perhaps winning his fourth straight this summer. There is simply too much business to take care of before that can take place.

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.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Dean Butler – The Pro

He’s not apt to give you a high five, a slap on the back or rap knuckles with you. It is often difficult to gauge just what’s stirring within him because his usual demeanor is that of a focused, take-charge individual.

To Dean Butler, the horse racing business is all business. There is no drama, no changes of direction, no ifs, ands or butts.

“He’s very professional, doesn’t miss anything. He’s not a guy you have to worry about missing an appointment,” said Pete Antonucci, Butler’s agent for the fifth consecutive meet at Canterbury.

Of course, it might be argued that Butler, 41, is exactly the kind of rider his agent represents. Antonucci had the book for Donna Barton and Luis Quinonez at one time, riders with very similar work ethics.

Butler’s professional attitude, work ethic and talent set him upon a successful pattern well before he made the decision to skip Ellis Park and head to Canterbury Park in 2006, where his father-in-law, Bernell Rhone, had a stable of 50 horses.

He married Rhone’s daughter, LeAnn, the year before, and she was carrying the first of their two daughters, Kayleigh, when they arrived in Shakopee.

Butler, now in his 20th season as a rider, already had credentials when he hit Shakopee, having won four riding titles at Philadelphia Park and one at Atlantic City.

There were 10 riders in front of him when he finished the 2006 meet in Shakopee with 25 wins. He finished fifth the next year with 39 wins and was third in 2008 with 70 winners. He won his first title in Shakopee the following season with 72 wins and won the next two meets with 76 and 83 wins.

Bernell Rhone would have told you at one time that he didn’t relish the notion of his daughter living the nomadic life of a race-tracker, but two granddaughters, Kayleigh and Kendall, in the last five years have clearly softened if not eliminated that concern completely.

And the trainer, who uses his successful son-in-law frequently in races, doesn’t dislike the business side of the relationship either.

“This has been profitable for both of us,” he said.

Everybody in the Rhone barn, for that matter: Rhone’s wife, Cindy, the barn manager; LeAnn, who gallops and helps run the operation. The Rhones’ son Russ is a farrier with substantial business at the racetrack.

The Butler girls get an early start to the day. They are up at 5 a.m. and it’s off to the babysitter’s shortly thereafter. After he finishes galloping for the morning, their father picks them up between 9:30 and 10 a.m. at a nearby barn and they rejoin the Rhone clan. ”

Butler’s work ethic might account for his serious countenance, at least part of it. “He’s thinking all the time,” Bernell said. “He thinks a lot, keeps track of horses and makes mental notes for the next trip. He can remember what a horse did three weeks earlier and he can tell you what happened in the race.”

That library of knowledge might be limited to fewer racing domains in the coming seasons.

Typically, Butler will head to Remington Park after the Canterbury meet and then to Tampa Bay Downs. Now, the deal with Mystic Lake and the possibility of a longer race meet in Shakopee has the Butlers hopeful of altering their lives to a two-track schedule: Canterbury summers and early autumn, Tampa Bay in the winter months.

Dean and LeAnn met on a blind date in 2003 and clicked from the start. Butler describes the meeting as one of the truly fortuitous events in his life. “I’ve been very lucky,” he said. “I met the love of my life, we have two great kids…”

The list, of course, goes on and on. He didn’t even get to the subject of winning riding titles, of perhaps winning his fourth straight this summer. There is simply too much business to take care of before that can take place.

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.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography