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….

Hermann to Make History

Angela Hermann 1Racing fans know her as the vivacious woman in the paddock, dispensing information with the rapid-fire delivery of a Gatling gun.

She can overwhelm the cerebral senses with a volley of facts and details that roll off her tongue with the authority and understanding of someone who knows her stuff inside and out.

Right or wrong on a given horse is not the issue. She can dissect what a thoroughbred has done and is apt to do with the precision of a surgeon and his scalpel.

She is Angela Hermann, the voice of Canterbury Park’s paddock and a disseminator of insight and detail on the horses that occupy the barns of Shakopee.

Now completing her third season in the paddock since the departure of Kevin Gorg. Ms. Hermann is about to break ground in the thoroughbred world on a national front.

Ms. Hermann, a native of Burnsville, will become the first woman in U.S. thoroughbred history to act as a race caller for an entire card when she takes over for Paul Allen on Saturday.

The idea came about gradually, building on the fact that Ms. Hermann called several races, 10 or more, one at time, during the course of the 2013 meet as preparation for the approaching assignment.

She called a three-horse race last winter at Hawthorne Race Course in suburban Chicago, so the experience was not brand new to her this summer, although the challenge was certainly greater, calling races with larger fields than the one in Cicero, Ill., and on the home front to boot.

“It wasn’t the most exciting race (to call in Cicero),” said Ms. Hermann. “They only changed order maybe twice in the entire race.”

That will not be the case for Saturday’s eight-race card which will involve the names of as many as 60 or more horses to memorize.

“I can do it. That doesn’t worry me,” said Ms. Hermann.

It doesn’t worry her colleagues, either.

Allen, who is the voice of the Minnesota Vikings, is missing an all-time high of eight racing days this year due to the extension of the racing season and his duties at the Vikings’ mike. After conferring with track president/CEO Randy Sampson, and after Hermann’s trials at the microphone were given stamps of approval, the decision was made to put Canterbury Park and Ms. Hermann into racing’s history books.

“She’s ready and she’ll do a terrific job,” said Allen.

Does Ms. Hermann view this as a step forward for women?

“Of course it is important,” she said. “Women in the sport can get offended when I say that we need more women in our sport. I can only imagine what it might be like if we had an equal number of women to men.”

Racing is said to have made much progress in gender equality in the last 30 years or so, but it still lags behind in many areas.

“As much progress as there has been, there are still way too many men who will not put a female jockey aboard their horses. The more of us in this sport the better chance we have of leveling the playing field.”

So, the difference between analyzing a race in the paddock and calling a race from the pressbox?

“You have to have all your ducks in a row to get everything exactly right,” she said. “If there’s a moment that you freeze up there is nothing and there is no second chance at it.”

Nonetheless, Ms. Hermann says her handicapping experience, her experience in what to expect from a certain horse, will help the call as a race progresses. “If a horse isn’t supposed to be on the lead but is, as a handicapper you know that,” she said. “If a horse is behaving or running differently than he has done in the past, it is valuable to know that ahead of time.”

Ms. Hermann hopes that Saturday is one of the biggest days of her career. She will measure it primarily by this standard:

“If one little girl, because she was hesitant, is inspired to get into the industry because of this, then I’ve done my job.”

If you’ve ever watched some of the small faces that circle the paddock area before a race, the job is probably already done.

THURSDAY DOINGS

Had you been at Canterbury Thursday night. Had you put $2 on Bandini’s Star, you would have invested your money in a 55-1 winner, ridden by Jordan Olesiak and the first winner of the meet for trainer Mike Bolinger.

Had you been at Canterbury, and had you put $2 on K C’s Misfit, you would have invested in a 32-1 winner, the first winner of the meet for trainer Mike Kirby.

BECKY MCDOWELL FUNDRAISER

Trainer/horsewoman Becky McDowell was injured recently doing the job she loves so much. Thus, her colleagues on the backside have joined together and will stage a fundraiser to help her through the expense of recovery.

Food, music and an auction will be held in the track kitchen after the last race on Saturday, around 5:30 p.m.

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.

Mystic Lake Mile Preview

Mystic Lake Mile LogoPart of the ongoing story of any racetrack are its historic races, often named in commemoration of founding fathers, famous horses or grand contributors to the game.

Many of those races have storied pasts and memorable results. Such is the legacy of the $100,000 Lady Canterbury, first run in 1986 and twice later as a Grade III event, a race with winners whose names roll off the tongue like a Sunday litany: to name a few – Paulson & Summa Stables’ Sauna, Nature’s Way, Maktoum al Maktoum’s Balbonella, Down Again, Fieldy and Falls Amiss, in addition to Go Go Jack, KZ Bay, and most recently Ruthville in 2012, owned by Kentucky royalty, Arthur B. Hancock III.

The $100,000 race, at one mile on the turf, will be run for the 21st time on Saturday and has attracted a competitive field of 12 fillies and mares.

This stellar card includes the $125,000 Mystic Lake Mile, also with 12 horses, and the $54,100 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby with a field of 10.

The eminent analysts of the pressbox and beyond, those irreproachable handicappers of unparalleled acumen and insight, have varied views on the race.

Paddock analyst Angela Hermann sized up the day’s stakes races with this terse but terrific analysis:

“Whether it is their hockey team or their horses, those from Chicago play to win,” she said. “Leave any of them out at your own peril.”

You will find numerous horses with dossiers that include plenty of work in the Windy City.

For pressbox guardian and provider of program riches Jeff Maday, the Lady C looks like this:

“Kune Kune and (trainer) Joan Scott are right there. She should sit right off the pace and win… at a decent price,” he said.

“Hooh Why was good but maybe is past her prime. The (Barry and Joni) Butzow horse (Bryan’s Jewel) has a big chance but I hate that (No. 10) post out there.'”

And then there is irrefutable logic and insight of racing operations analyst Andrew Offerman:

“I don’t know quite what to make of this one,” he said. “Bryan’s Jewel (last year’s runnerup) is most likely to win. The horse was capable of winning a Grade III race and ran in a Grade I.”

Bryan’s Jewel won last time out, the Grade III Obeah at Delaware Park on June 15 at a mile and 1/8. Her previous race produced a win, too, in stakes competition at a mile and 1/16.

Track announcer Paul Allen was succinct in his outlook on the Lady Canterbury “I’ve been pulling for the local horses since KZ Bay won in 1997,” he said. There are chances from all over the country but don’t overlook local Lady Haddassah who is red hot and most importantly 15-1.”

Then there is the inaugural running Saturday of the $125,000 Mystic Lake Mile at a mile on the turf for three-year-olds and older, also with a field of 12. “This is a heck of a race,” said the pressbox impresario. “I like A Diehl. That horse looks pretty good. But if they let Hammer’s Terror go alone, he could be tough to beat. Somebody needs to hook up with him. It will come down to the ride.”

The race features the winner and runner-up of the Brooks Fields Stakes at 7 ½ furlongs on June 16. Hammer’s Terror, winner of the inaugural Mystic Lake Derby last summer, finished one length in front of Slip and Drive in the Brooks Fields. “He’ll be coming,” added Maday.

“You can’t rule too many of out of this one,” added Offerman. “You can make a case for eight of the 12 horses in this one. There can’t be too many people in this one who look at the PPs and think they don’t have a chance.”

Senor Allen has this pithy portrait of the race:

“If you missed Hammer’s Terror in the Brooks Fields, fret not. You’ll get it all back and then some when he wins the Mystic Lake Mile.”

Stacy Charette-Hill has been the queen of the quarter horse stables this summer and there is no reason to think she won’t be wearing the crown again after the Derby.

She has three of the horses in the field: First Prize Wagon, Hr Ebony Princess and Hr Money Maker, the fastest qualifier of the 10.

Hr Money Maker is a 3-1 morning line choice and will be ridden by the leading quarter horse rider of the meet, Jorge Torres.

THURSDAY BABIES OFFER POTENTIAL PREVIEW OF SHAKOPEE JUVENILE

Rumbauer (pictured below), a 2-year-old Artie Schiller colt, put on the late rush to win Thursday night’s third race convincingly, a five-furlong event for maiden two-year-olds.

Ridden by Ry Eikleberry, it was an impressive finish by Rumbauer, who is likely headed to the inaugural running of the $100,000 Shakopee Juvenile Stakes at 7 ½ furlongs on the turf Aug. 3. “Maybe,” said trainer Dave Van Winkle, later adding, “that’s been our dream all along.”

Rumbauer -  07-11-13 - R03 - CBY - Finish

The race will be run on the undercard of the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby on Saturday, August 3.

THURSDAY NIGHT HANDLE APPROACHES RECORD

Wagering on Thursday night’s card totaled $805,212. The $605,300 wagered off-track was the most wagered on a Thursday night (non-holiday) card since August 2004 and was close to breaking the all-time Thursday night (non-holiday) record of $634,407.

Pick 4 players will be happy to hear that the late Pick 4 handled $25,014 – the largest thus far in 2013 and a substantial increase from the average 2012 Pick 4 pool of $7,500. The 14% takeout wager returned $80.70 for $.50 with winners paying ($5.60, $9.00, $3.20 and $6.80).

There were two winning tickets in the early Pick 4 which returned a massive $5,246.2o for $.50. The key to hitting the early Pick 4 was coming up with Affirmed Cure, the $86.20 winner of the night’s 4th race. Not a bad return on investment for a $.50 minimum bet.

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.

If the Vikings Were a Racehorse

Vikings HelmetWe made the playoffs! Paul Allen does his Vikings Derby each week on KFAN but let’s get a jump on that this week. If this was a match race, and the Vikings were our steed, the plan would go a little like this…

1. Let the star carry the barn – How many times have you seen a team try to be something that it’s not to keep the other team guessing? The Vikings run AP, and run him often. It’s said week in and week out; do NOT put the ball in the air as long as those two legs are functional. Yes, once in a while the ball must be thrown elsewhere to keep the defense honest but let’s be real. AP is like Mariano Rivera’s cutter – you know what’s coming, you’ve seen it a million times and it’s still impossible to prepare for. He’s a freak, let him be. He’ll run over, under, across, around and straight through defenders… a weapon to be used, not used as a distraction.

2. Go to the whip early – Picture it: Lambeau Field, first playoff game, an entire Saturday for the town of Green Bay to tie one on, snow, freezing cold and noise to drown out a small explosion. Sound like rallying territory? For the underdog from across the river? Not really. Don’t try things out early, don’t settle for a couple of minutes off the clock – Go for the jugular. I’m not going to stress taking the crowd out of the game, because that probably just won’t happen regardless of the score. Give them something to be angry about though, not something to drive a confident defense. The Vikings took it to the Pack from the start last Sunday and need to duplicate that kind of early energy to have any sort of chance. Don’t act overly confident in pulling off a field-goal victory, act as hungry as a team squeaking into the playoffs should. Let their confidence be their downfall.

3. Keep the blinkers on – The Vikings were supposed to excel in the beginning of their season and falter late, and half of that they did… fortunately the blinkers went on right after the last game at Lambeau and they haven’t come off since. The last game in GB went a little flat towards the end, with the team failing to “Change leads” if you will and ending up with an L for the week. Even with the last two divisional wins being by a neck and a length (3 and 7 points), how crucial did they turn out to be? A playoff run need not include blowouts along the way, just a series of workmanlike efforts in the right spots. Minnesota has not found a new powerhouse punch, but they seem to have streamlined the talented pieces into one effective unit over the past few weeks. A metaphorical set of blinkers if you will, have focused this group from zeroes to heroes.

4. Don’t give up the rail – I myself have not seen the four Superbowl debacles the Vikings have put on for their faithful, but I’ve seen plenty of playoff runs as underdogs and favorites go belly-up. Sometimes we’re outplayed, but more often than not the Vikings limp out of the stadium with feet riddled with bullet holes. With the setting and opponent this year, a perfect performance may still not yield a W. But, getting in the minus turnover ratio spells almost certain death for the Purple People Eaters. It’s been automatic this year: When we don’t turn the ball over, we win. When it goes negative, the game does too. The playoffs are a whole new ball game (pun not intended), but doing favors for a team like the Packers is never a good idea. They will almost always make you pay.

5. Don’t get Pat Day’d – This match-up is essentially the veteran five year old vs. the late-developing three year old. The Pack will have something left at the end of the game for one last push whether they’re ahead or behind, and lacking a corresponding punch will not work. This applies more for the defense than the offense, but both had better be prepared for a relentless drive unlike anything during the regular season. No huddle, rapid fire driving is something better handled by Aaron Rodgers than Christian Ponder no doubt but one will face a lot more rookies than the other. The defense has its share of woes and those in need of front wraps (Antoine Winfield), but overall has come through in crunch time and will prove a crucial factor in victory. Their performance in the final two minutes of the game could make or break anything that AP and the offense can put together. And nothing, NOTHING would be worse than losing a photo in round three of the border battle.

Remember, we’ve got TRAXXAS Snocross racing all weekend at Canterbury Park – Saturday night’s game will be available on all three levels right alongside the Snowmobile Racing action. Let’s see if the Vikings can repeat and take the Pack wire to wire!

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann just completed her second year as Canterbury’s Paddock Analyst after previously serving in a similar role at Lincoln Racecourse and Columbus Ag Park. She blogs about both local and National racing.

If the Vikings Were a Racehorse

Vikings HelmetWe made the playoffs! Paul Allen does his Vikings Derby each week on KFAN but let’s get a jump on that this week. If this was a match race, and the Vikings were our steed, the plan would go a little like this…

1. Let the star carry the barn – How many times have you seen a team try to be something that it’s not to keep the other team guessing? The Vikings run AP, and run him often. It’s said week in and week out; do NOT put the ball in the air as long as those two legs are functional. Yes, once in a while the ball must be thrown elsewhere to keep the defense honest but let’s be real. AP is like Mariano Rivera’s cutter – you know what’s coming, you’ve seen it a million times and it’s still impossible to prepare for. He’s a freak, let him be. He’ll run over, under, across, around and straight through defenders… a weapon to be used, not used as a distraction.

2. Go to the whip early – Picture it: Lambeau Field, first playoff game, an entire Saturday for the town of Green Bay to tie one on, snow, freezing cold and noise to drown out a small explosion. Sound like rallying territory? For the underdog from across the river? Not really. Don’t try things out early, don’t settle for a couple of minutes off the clock – Go for the jugular. I’m not going to stress taking the crowd out of the game, because that probably just won’t happen regardless of the score. Give them something to be angry about though, not something to drive a confident defense. The Vikings took it to the Pack from the start last Sunday and need to duplicate that kind of early energy to have any sort of chance. Don’t act overly confident in pulling off a field-goal victory, act as hungry as a team squeaking into the playoffs should. Let their confidence be their downfall.

3. Keep the blinkers on – The Vikings were supposed to excel in the beginning of their season and falter late, and half of that they did… fortunately the blinkers went on right after the last game at Lambeau and they haven’t come off since. The last game in GB went a little flat towards the end, with the team failing to “Change leads” if you will and ending up with an L for the week. Even with the last two divisional wins being by a neck and a length (3 and 7 points), how crucial did they turn out to be? A playoff run need not include blowouts along the way, just a series of workmanlike efforts in the right spots. Minnesota has not found a new powerhouse punch, but they seem to have streamlined the talented pieces into one effective unit over the past few weeks. A metaphorical set of blinkers if you will, have focused this group from zeroes to heroes.

4. Don’t give up the rail – I myself have not seen the four Superbowl debacles the Vikings have put on for their faithful, but I’ve seen plenty of playoff runs as underdogs and favorites go belly-up. Sometimes we’re outplayed, but more often than not the Vikings limp out of the stadium with feet riddled with bullet holes. With the setting and opponent this year, a perfect performance may still not yield a W. But, getting in the minus turnover ratio spells almost certain death for the Purple People Eaters. It’s been automatic this year: When we don’t turn the ball over, we win. When it goes negative, the game does too. The playoffs are a whole new ball game (pun not intended), but doing favors for a team like the Packers is never a good idea. They will almost always make you pay.

5. Don’t get Pat Day’d – This match-up is essentially the veteran five year old vs. the late-developing three year old. The Pack will have something left at the end of the game for one last push whether they’re ahead or behind, and lacking a corresponding punch will not work. This applies more for the defense than the offense, but both had better be prepared for a relentless drive unlike anything during the regular season. No huddle, rapid fire driving is something better handled by Aaron Rodgers than Christian Ponder no doubt but one will face a lot more rookies than the other. The defense has its share of woes and those in need of front wraps (Antoine Winfield), but overall has come through in crunch time and will prove a crucial factor in victory. Their performance in the final two minutes of the game could make or break anything that AP and the offense can put together. And nothing, NOTHING would be worse than losing a photo in round three of the border battle.

Remember, we’ve got TRAXXAS Snocross racing all weekend at Canterbury Park – Saturday night’s game will be available on all three levels right alongside the Snowmobile Racing action. Let’s see if the Vikings can repeat and take the Pack wire to wire!

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann just completed her second year as Canterbury’s Paddock Analyst after previously serving in a similar role at Lincoln Racecourse and Columbus Ag Park. She blogs about both local and National racing.