First Mount, First Win

Jockey Kelsi Harr made her career riding debut a winning one when she guided Bandit Point to a one length victory in the third race on Father’s Day for trainer Robert Cline.

The 25-year-old from Arkansas positioned her charge just off the pace and swung into action in the stretch to challenge the favorite, R H Smoakem, who quickly folded as Bandit Point, at 11 to 1 odds, pulled away.  Harr was greeted in the winner’s circle by other members of the jockey colony who, as is the tradition when a rider gets her first win, doused Harr in water and talcum powder.


One race after Harr won, a very familiar face to long-time Minnesota race fans also found the winner’s circle: Mike Ziegler.  Ziggy was a fixture on the scene here from 1995 through 2007. He returned to Canterbury this season primarily to gallop horses, knowing he would pick up an occasional mount as well. His first such mount was a winner on Andrea’s Halo for trainer Joe Merrick.  Sunday’s win was the 377th at Canterbury for Ziegler, 52, and the 2,501th in a career that began in 1987.

No Hot Dogs On Memorial Day


Sultry, hot temperatures that many people describe as simply for the dogs apparently aren’t.

Consequently, the bulldogs scheduled to compete Monday, with a forecast approaching 100 degrees, instead will run on June 9 because of the oppressive weather possibility.

What the dogs can’t handle, the horses apparently can, largely because they train in such conditions and are closely monitored by handlers before and after races. Bulldogs, on the other hand, are not trained by professional handlers but rather owners who generally exercise them under less rigid guidance than that afforded thoroughbreds.

Monday’s card will include two $50,000 stakes races, the Northbound Pride Oaks for 3-year-old fillies at a mile on the turf, and the Honor the Hero for 3-year-old horses and older, at five furlongs on the turf.

The morning line favorites in the Honor the Hero are Wings Locked Up at 3-1 and Get a Valentine at 7-2. Wings is trained by Clinton Stuart for Sad Sac Racing and will be ridden by Orlando Mojica, breaking from the No. 4 hole in the 11-horse field.

Get a Valentine is trained by Joe Sharp for Brad Grady and has the No. 2 hole under Adam Beschizza.

The 2-1 favorite in the seven-horse Northbound Pride is Sippin Kitten, a first-time winner her last start trained by Michael Maker. She will be ridden by Leandro Goncalves from the No. 2  spot.

Second choice at 3-1 is Tahoe Dream in the No. 3 hole, trained by Mac Robertson and ridden by Dean Butler.


Sunday’s card was accompanied by raffles, auctions – silent and otherwise – sponsorships of various kinds and tables accepting donations, all for the Leg Up Fund that benefits injured Canterbury Park jockeys.

Lesley Mawing is currently on the sidelines after breaking his hip in a riding incident and spoke on behalf of the fund. “Most of us have families and we need the help,” he said.

Five-time Canterbury riding champion Dean Butler was sidelined last summer by a riding injury he considers a godsend. His subsequent medical examination uncovered a brain aneurysm that was later repaired.

Checks from the Leg Up fund helped during his convalescence. “If we don’t ride, we don’t get paid,” he said.  It’s as simple as that for jockeys.

Some of the big ticket items were a John Deere riding lawnmower that was given away in a raffle at $20 a ticket and an auction on barbwire artwork depicting a mare and her foal that drew a winning bid of $1,000.


Mike  Ziegler was among the crowd on hand for Sunday’s races, visiting with former riders and horsemen who were among his colleagues when he rode at Canterbury for some 12 years before moving his tack to other westerly locations after the 2007 meet.

The Minnesota native started his riding career largely at AkSarBen in Omaha but pretty much cut his teeth at Canterbury after the Nebraska track went into decline.

Although he hasn’t made a decision to hang up the saddle, Ziegler is at Canterbury this summer galloping horses for Francisco Bravo and considering his options for the future. “I can’t quite bring myself to say the words,” he said.

In the meantime, he is much nearer to his roots and family during the current meet. Still fit and trim at 52, it’s not out of the question that Ziegler will get a mount here or there during the coming weeks. He got a comparatively late start, breaking into the game at 21, four or five years later than most jockeys, yet on the other end of the scale has that many fewer seasons of wear and tear on his body.