Road to Kentucky Contest to Feature Oaklawn

Going into Saturday’s Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, trainer Todd Pletcher had won the Kentucky Derby prep race four of the past eight runnings. Yet it seemed like he had been forgotten when his two entrants, who granted did not look great on paper, were sent to post at odds of 15 and 72 to 1. When the race resulted in a Pletcher exacta, with 72-1 Bourbonic on top of 15-1 Dynamic One, the exacta payout was $453 for a buck.  It is very possible that Pletcher saddles Bourbonic in the Derby and his odds are shorter in the 20-horse field than they were in the Wood.

The Road to Kentucky contest was turned upside down with that result as the double-point race awarded 2,228 points. Without Bourbonic, there was no path to victory. Nine players sniffed it out and they were the only ones of nearly 300 players to top 2,500 total for the week. Top score of 3,457 went to Julie Harrington and with that number she joins the top five overall.

This Saturday the free-to-enter Road to Kentucky Contest will feature Oaklawn Park with its Derby prep The Arkansas Derby plus an additional bonus race from Keeneland, the Lexington Stakes.

Four stakes are part of the 13-race Oaklawn card that begins at noon.  The Canterbury Racebook opens at 9am.

Concert Tour preps in the six-horse Arkansas Derby. Mr. Jagermeister will again face Whitmore and CZ Rocket when they line up for the $500,000 Count Fleet., the 11th race at Oaklawn.

Spring Tune Up Super Satellite Contests

Four sessions of Spring Tune Up Super Satellites remain. Each session runs weekly Thursday through Saturday with winners advancing to the May 8 Satellite. Entry to each day of the Supers is $10. One player for each 10 entries over the three-day span advances to the May 8 contest. Players can also buy into the May 8 Satellite for $100. In that contest, the top five players win two entries, valued at $1050, to the 25th annual Dog Days of Summer Contest.

There will also be an estimated $2,000 in cash prizes in the Satellite in addition to the aforementioned prizes. All the details are here for the Satellite and here for the Super Satellites.

Can Mr. Jagermeister Steal The Hot Springs Stakes?

Saturday’s Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest passes through Hot Springs, Arkansas and Oaklawn Park for the running of the $1 million Grade 2 Rebel Stakes. Also on the card are the Azeri Stakes with the return of 2020 Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil, the $500,00 Essex Handicap, the Temperence Hill, and the $200,000 Hot Springs Stakes featuring Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion Whitmore, who has won this stake four consecutive years.

The Canterbury Connection in the Hot Springs Stakes is Minnesota-bred Mr. Jagermeister and trainer Valorie Lund thinks he has a good chance to win the six furlong sprint.

“It’s a very tough race,” she said. That might be an understatement as in the seven-horse field is the Exacta from the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Sprint. “You have a Breeders’ Cup winner and Eclipse Award winner.” Lund is referring to Whitmore who won the BC Sprint at Keeneland in 2020 and was subsequently named Eclipse Award winner as male sprinter.  The second choice on the morning line at 2-1 is C Z Rocket who won a pair of graded sprints in Southern California last year before finishing second behind Whitmore in the Breeders’ Cup. Neither has run since the Sprint.

“I really think [Mr. Jagermeister] is the speed of the race,” Lund said. There is concern however that Ron Moquett, trainer of Whitmore, may have entered a ‘rabbit’ in the speedy Firecrow. “I think he plans to send Firecrow.”

Mr. Jagermeister last raced Feb. 6 in the King Cotton at Oaklawn, his first start since Aug. 13. He set the fractions over a sloppy track before tiring slightly to finish third, just 1 1/4 lengths behind Baldor who is also entered in the Hot Springs.

“I was thrilled. I thought he was going in a little short,” Lund said.

There is but one workout on paper since that February race, a 58 and 4 bullet for five furlongs on March 6. Lund however says a prior workout went unrecorded and that the six-year old worked “a half from the 3/8ths” in what she has as 45 2/5 seconds. There were a couple of horses seven to nine lengths in front of him and Mr. Jagermeister “ran them both down” leaving the trainer breathless. “It was so visually impressive,” Lund said.

On Saturday, Mr. Jagermeister will break, under jockey Rocco Bowen, from post position three.

“We are expecting rain,” Lund said. Rain means slop and a lot of kick back.  “I wish he had an outside draw instead of the three. We’re going to have to jet out of there.”

So, yes indeed, this is a very tough race facing graded stakes winners and in Whitmore an 8-year-old who has won nine of 14 starts at Oaklawn, but Valorie Lund remains optimistic about Mr. Jagermeister. She always has been and he rarely has let her down.  “He looks and feels so good,” she said. “I really think we can beat Whitmore.”

Road to Kentucky Contest entry deadline is noon. The Racebook opens at 9am.  Here are the contest rules.

Another Lund Entrant With A Bullet Drill

H’rayforcaberneigh — a 3-year-old half sister to Mr. Jagermeister. They share the dam Frangelica. A caller asked Lund if the reported 34 2/5 work from the Oaklawn gate on March 4 was for real. The work was a full second faster than the next fastest three-furlong workout that day and that one was not a gate work.

“I was surprised,” Lund said. “She trains like she wants to go long. When she left [the starting gate], the gate crew went ‘Wow. That one’s fast.’ That day she was.”

H’rayforcaberneigh makes her career debut in the opening race at Oaklawn, a sprint, on Saturday.

“I do she think she wants to run long.  Maybe we can get a piece of it and then I stretch her out.”

Mr. Jagermeister Prepares For Return

Mr. Jagermeister is “starting to get fit” trainer Valorie Lund said Friday following the six-year-old Minnesota bred’s fourth workout since returning to training. All the works have come at Turfway Park in Florence, KY with the latest a very sharp 1:00.40 for five furlongs.

The goal for Jag is the Feb. 6 $150,000, six furlong, King Cotton at Oaklawn Park. Lund will have eight stalls at the Hot Springs, Arkansas racetrack, which opens Friday, and intends to ship horses early this week.

Lund is currently headquartered at a training center in Lexington but sends horses into Turfway, an hour and 10 minute trip from load to unload, on a regular basis to both breeze and race.

“We toyed with an allowance [for Mr. Jagermeister] at Turfway,” Lund said. But the plans did not come together so “he will have to gut it out” in the King Cotton.

Lund also trains Bodenheimer, who last year as a 2-year-old broke his maiden at Canterbury,

Bodeheimer at Canterbury Park

won the Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows and the Indian Summer at Keeneland before finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. He will return to training soon with the target being a 5 ½ furlong turf sprint in early April at Keeneland.

Bodenheimer Pointed To Kentucky Downs; Mr. Jagermeister Out Of Festival

The undefeated 2-year-old colt from the Valorie Lund barn Bodenheimer will be headed to Kentucky Downs to race Sept. 12 in the $250,000 Kentucky Downs Juvenile Turf Sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs. The race drew 48 nominations with Bodenheimer one of the 12 top earners which would secure a spot in the starting gate. The colt began his career July 7 at Canterbury winning a 5 furlong turf maiden by 11 1/4 lengths. Next stop was the $50,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile Stakes on the dirt at Prairie Meadows where he won by a neck.

Mr. Jagermeister Done For The Year

Entries for the Minnesota Festival of Champions will be taken tomorrow but a familiar name will not be found on the overnight. Mr. Jagermeister, also trained by Lund, sprained his hock and will miss the event.  A three-time Festival winner of the ’17 Northern Lights Juvenile, ’18 Classic Championship and ’19 Classic Sprint, the Jag will be missed on the day that highlights the best of the state. “He was due for his next turnout,” Lund said, so the setback made the decision easy. Mr. Jagermeister is already in Kentucky. “I’ll give him 60 to 90 days off.” Race fans will see him next year.

Mr. Jagermeister is in Kentucky because that is where Lund and her stable will spend the fall and winter. Turf Paradise would be the normal location but with the track closed, perhaps forever, many including Lund were left scrambling. Lund made arrangements for space at Ashwood Training Center in Lexington. The facility has 300 stalls, training track, official timed workouts, and turnouts. As horses run their final race at Canterbury Lund will haul them to Kentucky. She already has her first load of six there and when another six are ready she will make another trip.  The location will allow her to ship horses to Kentucky tracks to race but also to others close by like the Ohio tracks. Lund plans for a small string at Oaklawn as well.

Satellite Storm, a Lund turf sprinter, most recently ran at Monmouth after a colossal win at Colonial Downs. When Colonial canceled the meet, Lund and owner Peter Seals looked for options, specifically five furlong turf races. Monmouth was chosen but the effort was lackluster, leaving Lund thinking she may have asked too much of the horse in that period of time. Satellite Storm is now at Ashwood and likely to run at Churchill in the fall.

Sale Topper Hip #43

Lund was also involved in Sunday’s MTA Yearling Auction, consulting with owners Barry and Joni Butzow who purchased the$42,000 sale topper, a Midshipman filly out of Sahm Sweetheart. “We shortlisted five yearlings,” she said. “This one  met all the specs.”

Here are the auction results.


State-Bred Stakes Highlight Wednesday Action at Canterbury Park

Three-day racing week Tuesday through Thursday; Two richest Minnesota-breds meet in 10,000 Lakes.

The two Minnesota-bred thoroughbreds with the highest career earnings, Mr. Jagermeister and Hot Shot Kid, will face off in the 10,000 Lakes Stakes Wednesday at Canterbury Park, racing six furlongs for a purse of $50,000. The 5-year-old Mr. Jagermeister, winner of 11 of 23 starts and $578,627 in purses, and 6-year-old Hot Shot Kid, who won five stakes, including the 10,000 Lakes, at the Shakopee, Minn. racetrack in 2019 and has amassed $545,404 in purses from 29 career starts, meet for the first time since the 2018 running of this same stake race. That year Mr. Jagermeister got the best of it finishing 8 1/2 lengths in front of second-place Hot Shot Kid. He then went on to win three additional stakes that summer before being named the Canterbury horse of the meet, an honor bestowed on Hot Shot Kid last year.

“This is going to be a very exciting race; a very competitive race,” Mr. Jagermeister’s trainer and co-owner Valorie Lund said. Leandro Goncalves has the mount. “[Mr. Jagermeister] is ready,” Lund said, but questions the prohibitively favored 2 to 5 morning line hung on her horse. “I’ve watched Hot Shot Kid training both here and at Oaklawn. He looks great,” she said.

Mac Robertson, perennial leading trainer at Canterbury Park and conditioner of Hot Shot Kid, is also quick to acknowledge the competition.  “Mr. Jagermeister is very good,” Robertson said, speaking Sunday from Delaware Park where he is preparing his East Coast string. He intended to run Hot Shot Kid at Keeneland but when that meet was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he changed plans and entered at Oaklawn where Hot Shot Kid ran a distant tenth in a sprint. Robertson has named last year’s leading jockey Francisco Arietta to ride. He also entered Cinco Star in the five-horse field.

The 10,000 Lakes is the second race on an 11-race program that begins at 4:30 p.m., while the co-featured $50,000 Lady Slipper Stakes is the sixth. Robertson and Lund are also represented in the Lady Slipper. Robertson will run 7-year-old Honey’s Sox Appeal and Ready to Runaway. Lund has entered Firstmate, a 5-year-old mare previously trained by Joe Sharp, for owners Barry and Joni Butzow of Eden Prairie, Minn. They must beat Lady Slipper defending champion Ari Gia and trainer Jose Silva, Jr.

“I’m tickled to have her,” Lund said of Firstmate. “There is a ton of speed in the race. I like the outside [post position] draw.”   Firstmate recorded the fastest four furlong workout of the morning on June 10 in preparation. “She did it so easy,” Lund said.

Robertson has a very strong hand in the Lady Slipper. “I wouldn’t trade my two for any of them,” he said. Honey’s Sox Appeal is a multiple stakes winner who Robertson said “was in a brutally tough race at Oaklawn and she didn’t run that bad.”

Ready to Runaway, claimed for $25,000, subsequently won three consecutive stakes last year at

Ready to Runaway

Canterbury. She raced three times at Oaklawn this spring with two third-place and one second-place finish, earning speed figures better than last year. “She’s never run a bad race really,” Robertson said. Not one to be without a plan, he considered potential strategy for Wednesday while examining the field. “We’ll probably send one and take one back. This is a really good race.” He also entered Clickbait, but she will be a scratch and is reentered for Thursday. The field includes 2017 Minnesota Oaks winner Double Bee Sting and Pinup Girl, winner of the 2018 Lady Slipper.

Racing resumes Tuesday and runs through Thursday with first post at 4:30 p.m. each afternoon.

Racing Continues; Mr. Jagermeister to Count Fleet; May joins MRC

Horse racing continues at a handful of tracks around the country with Tampa Bay Downs, Gulfstream, Oaklawn, Los Alamitos, Will Rogers, Fonner and Remington Park all conducting races. With limited opportunities, field size has grown and handle at tracks like Fonner are reaching historic levels. Currently there is something offered every day of the week and some evening racing as well with Remington quarter horses and Los Alamitos.   The Daily Racing Form website provides entries as does Equibase. Wagering through a licensed ADW is permissible in Minnesota and a sliver of the handle does benefit purses in Minnesota when racing in Shakopee  returns.

Mr. Jagermeister aimed at $350,000 Grade 3 Count Fleet Handicap

Minnesota bred 5-year-old Mr. Jagermeister, trained by Valorie Lund, is at Oaklawn and will be entered Wednesday for the April 18 Count Fleet Handicap, a 6-furlong sprint. He most recently raced March 7, finishing second to Whitmore in the $150,000 Hot Springs. With a dearth of racing elsewhere, Lund feels the Count Fleet may now attract a “Breeders’ Cup level” field of sprinters.

Governor Walz Appoints Steve May as Racing Commission Director

On March 27, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz announced the appointment of Steve May as the next executive director of the Minnesota Racing Commission. According to an MRC news release, May will assume his new duties in late April, succeeding Tom DiPasquale, who retired in February after serving as director since 2013.

The news release continues: May is the Director of Pari-Mutuel Wagering and Compliance for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Previously, he was vice president and business manager of the Association of Racing Commissioners International, a national association that represents pari-mutuel racing regulators in most racing states, including Minnesota. May’s educational background includes bachelor and master degrees, including an MBA.

Minnesota Racing Commission chairman Jim Lane congratulated Governor Walz on his appointment of a respected, nationally known racing and wagering industry official to serve as director at a critical time for horse racing in Minnesota and the nation. “Steve May has had broad background in racing and pari-mutuel operations and is well suited by education and experience to lead the fine commission staff assembled here in Minnesota by his predecessor,” said Lane.

Three Derby Preps Saturday; R2K Handicapping Contest Features Tampa Bay Downs; Derby Future Pool 3 Opens Friday

Kentucky Derby prep races will be held from coast to the other Saturday with the Gotham at Aqueduct, the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs and the San Felipe at Santa Anita. Canterbury’s Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest will focus on the first 11 races at Tampa which begins at 11:15am but also includes the other preps. Always in this free weekly contest the Derby preps count as double points.  Find the contest details on the R2k webpage.  The entry box closes with the first race at Tampa at 11:15.

The Tampa Bay Derby is a major prep for the First Saturday in May. It drew a field of 12 featuring Sam F. Davis winner Sole Volante and Chance It, winner of the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream in January. Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. scratched Chance It from the Fountain of Youth due to his outside post and this Saturday has the four hole. The two will take the majority of the wagering action making others long odds for those looking to win the R2K contest with one fell swoop. The Tampa Bay Derby, one of five stakes on the card, is race 11.

Each Derby prep awards the top horses points and the 20 with the highest point totals can advance to the Kentucky Derby. The current leader is Ete Indien with 54 points, winner of last weekend’s Fountain of Youth Stakes but he will have company as each of the three preps Saturday will award 50 points to the winner.

The Grade 3 Gotham is the 10th race at Aqueduct with a 3:42 p.m. post and a field of 11. None of the entrants are included in this weekend’s Future Wager Pool 3 but the winner, despite his current credentials or lack thereof, will earn points sufficient to make the Derby field on May 2.  Mischevious Alex won the seven furlong Swale at Gulfstream by seven lengths. Based on his speed figure from the Swale, he should be one of the favorites in the Gotham. Flap Jack was the longshot winner of the Arlington Washington Futurity in September. He has been training at Fair Grounds and ships north to make his 2020 debut.

The San Felipe will also play an important role as Thousand Words, currently one of the top 3-year-olds, is entered along with Baffert stablemate Authentic, winner of the Sham Stakes. Storm the Court won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and is fourth on the Derby leaderboard. He ran fourth in the seven furlong San Vicente and needs to prove his BC win at 45 to 1 was not a fluke. All three are offered as betting interest in the Future Pool.

Anyone longing for the ‘old days’ when Santa Anita was king should appreciate the program assembled for Saturday. The 12-race card begins at 1:30pm. Four graded stakes include the San Felipe and the Big ‘Cap, the Santa Anita Handicap. Top to bottom the fields are full and the handle will be immense.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3 this Weekend

The third Kentucky Derby win and exacta future wager pool opens Friday and is playable at the Canterbury Racebook through Sunday afternoon. The first Kentucky Oaks pool is also offered along with the Oaks / Derby Double Future Wager.

The opening odds sheet along with rules is available here.

Mr. Jagermeister In Action At Oaklawn

Minnesota bred Mr. Jagermeister is entered in Saturday’s $150,000 Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn. The tight yet competitive field of six will race six furlongs. Leandro Goncalves has the mount. They combined Feb. 8 for a win in the Phoenix Gold Cup for trainer Valorie Lund covering six furlongs at Turf Paradise in 1:08.

One-two finishers in the Feb. 8 King Cotton at Oaklawn, Share the Upside and Whitmore, are also entered. The pair met in last year’s Hot Springs and Whitmore had the upper hand beating Share the Upside by a length and a half.

Mr. Jagermeister has an allowance win at Oaklawn in 2019 and a second in a stake in 2018. He posted a workout over the surface on Sunday.

Mr. Jagermeister seeks graded stakes win in Saturday’s Ack Ack at Churchill Downs

Minnesota-bred Mr. Jagermeister will attempt to add a graded stakes win to his impressive resume on Saturday at Churchill Downs in the $150,000 Ack Ack Stakes, a grade three one-turn mile where he drew post six in a nine-horse field. Leandro Goncalves will ride in the Ack Ack for trainer Valorie Lund.

The 4-year-old has won seven stakes, all but one restricted to state breds.  He defeated open company in the $100,000 Chesapeake, a sprint stake at Colonial Downs on Aug. 17, before returning to Canterbury to win the $100,000 Crocrock Sprint Championship Sept. 1, his most recent race, a dash restricted to Minnesota breds. In all, the son of Atta Boy Roy has won 10 of 17 starts and $493,537 in purses.

Canterbury Park’s 2018 Horse of the Year was shipped to Churchill shortly after the Crocrock and has been training well there, including a bullet five furlong work last Sunday.

“He really likes the track,” Lund said. “I mean he really likes it. He goes so easy.” This comes as no surprise to his trainer as Mr. Jagermeister’s sire, also trained by Lund, did his best running at Churchill including a win in the grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes.

Mr. Jagermeister once before was entered in a graded stakes, the grade 2 San Vicente at Santa Anita in February of 2018, coming off a nearly five-month layoff. After dueling through blistering fractions he tired.

Saturday could be a different story as the colt is as sharp as he has ever been.

“I think he is the right horse for this race,” Lund said. “If he brings his ‘A-game’ he will be tough to beat.”

Top trainers from across the country have entered experienced runners in the Ack Ack including Steve Asmussen, Dale Romans, Al Stall, Jr., and Phil D’Amato. Many of the horses have been tested in graded events and have won.

Timeline is a two-time grade three winner, but those came in 2017 for trainer Chad Brown when he won the Peter Pan at Belmont and the Pegasus at Monmouth before going favored in the grade 1 Haskell and running up the track.  He is now under the care of Asmussen, has not raced since Dec. 1, 2018, and has eight works at Churchill leading into Saturday.

Mr Freeze, trained by Romans, won the 2018 West Virginia Derby, a grade 3, but has not won since in just three tries. Air Strike is the highweight in the field carrying 125 pounds. He won the grade 2 Triple Bend at Santa Anita on May 25 at 12 to 1 odds and has since finished fourth in both the grade 1 Bing Crosby at Del Mar and the grade 1 Forego at Saratoga. Trainer D’Amato has been prepping Air Strike at Santa Anita showing three published workouts.

With few confirmed front runners, Mr. Jagermeister may control the early pace.

“I never tell my rider to go for the lead,” Lund said but she has a feeling Goncalves may end up there.

Mr Freeze showed his traditional speed recently in one mile Ellis allowance but was reeled in by Mr Darcy who is also entered in the Ack Ack. Mr Darcy has proven to be tactical and enters Saturday’s stake off a second-place finish Sept. 13 racing six furlongs at Churchill, a surface on which he has competed eight times, winning twice, finishing second four times and third once.

The Ack Ack will be the seventh race on Churchill’s 11-race twilight card that begins at 5 p.m. central. Post time for the race is set for 8:05 p.m.

“This is a very good field of horses,” Lund said. “That’s what you get at Churchill. [Mr. Jagermeister] is really good right now. I’m excited.”

Canterbury Race Book will offer Win bet insurance on the race. Guests making a $20 Win bet on Mr. Jagermeister will receive a refund on the bet if he fails to win but runs second. The offer applies to the first $20 win wager on Mr. Jagermeister only and the wager must be made using the MVP Rewards player card. Should he run second, those refunds will be made in MVP Rewards points mid-week and can be converted to cash.

Boys To Men

By Noah Joseph

Last Sunday, Mr. Jagermeister put together another dominating performance. He won the Crocrock Minnesota Sprint Championship to gain a third straight stakes victory on Festival of Champions Day. And while many people think Mr. Jagermeister may be the best horse to ever come from Canterbury Park, at one time it could have been argued that distinction belonged to his sire Atta Boy Roy.

Atta Boy Roy had a very humble beginning. He was born in Washington and sold for $4,500 to Roy Schaffer’s R.E.V. Racing, who sent the colt to Valorie Lund, who also trains Mr.Jagermeister. Atta Boy Roy broke his maiden at Turf Paradise in Arizona in April 2008 and made his Canterbury debut on Memorial Day that same year, winning an allowance race gate to wire by 11 lengths as the favorite under Scott Stevens. After finishing fifth in two consecutive stakes races in Iowa and Minnesota and second in another allowance race at Canterbury, Atta Boy Roy won again in Shakopee. It would be his last race in Shakopee for a while, but while he was away, Atta Boy became a dominant racehorse. He won his first stakes race at Emerald Downs in his home state of Washington in July of 2009 and competed in his first graded stakes race a month later. After winning another stakes race at Emerald Downs, Atta Boy Roy competed in his first Grade 1 race in the Ancient Title at Santa Anita. And while he didn’t win, Atta Boy Roy was far from finished.

The following year, Atta Boy Roy won his first graded stakes race in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Stakes on the Kentucky Derby undercard at 10-1 beating graded stakes winners and future top stallions including Warrior’s Reward, Musket Man, Country Day, and Munnings. Atta Boy Roy then finished second in the Grade 3 Aristides Stakes at Churchill Downs en route to several starts in graded stakes company. He even ran in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Sprint, in which he finished 10th. Atta Boy Roy continued to run in graded stakes, but he wasn’t the top horse he once was. After an eighth place finish in a Grade 1 at Saratoga, Atta Boy Roy returned to Canterbury to run in the Shot of Gold Stakes on closing day of the 2011 season, winning as the favorite. It would be his last stakes win though, and he retired in 2013.

He went to stud in his home state of Washington that same year. In 2015, he was mated with Frangelica, another horse trained by Valorie Lund. That foal born in Minnesota was Mr. Jagermeister, who is making a name for himself, locally and nationally. It’s fun to see the similarities between Atta Boy Roy, who produced the man Mr.Jagermeister.

Lund is planning to take Mr. Jagermeister to Churchill Downs, the site of his sire’s top performance, for the Grade 3 Ack Ack Stakes on Sept. 28.

Festival A Family Affair

By Jim Wells

The Festival of Champions has a family air about it, and always has. After all, it is about Minnesota horses, the farms they represent and the people who breed, own and train them.

In many respects is has become the perfect sidekick to the Minnesota State Fair.

The 26th running of the Festival was run on Sunday under intermittent appearances by the sun and otherwise appealing weather conditions.

Trainer Mac Robertson won three stakes races on the card and five races overall. Three riders __ Berkley Packer, Orlando Mojica and Leandro Goncalves won two stakes race each.

It was an afternoon designed to celebrate the Minnesota horse and his connections and a crowd of 9,335  was on hand to celebrate.

Many of them were on hand to watch a horse named Mr. Jagermeister, the fastest horse in Minnesota and one of the fastest in the country, make his first local appearance of the season. The son of Atta Boy Roy did not disppoint with a dominating performance.

Proof that he is indeed a drawing card?

A large portion of Sunday’s crowd hit the exits immediately after he ran.

      $100,000 Minnesota Distaff Sprint

This is how the game is supposed to work. Someone claims a horse and the horse justifies the investment.

Ari Gia is that kind of horse. Claimed for $6,000, Ari has now earned more than $240,000, including Sunday’s sixty grand reward as the winner of this race.

Owner/trainer Jose Silva thought the race was over as he watched his horse on the backstretch with a solid lead and plenty of gas in the tank. Then Honey’s Sox Appeal made her bid and Silva began having alternative thoughts. “Oh, oh, she’s going to catch us,” he thought.

Even during the stretch run the race was not yet over until Silva’s horse dug in one last time under a request from the track’s leading rider, Francisco Arrieta and Ari Gia drew off toe finish with a 3/12 length lead at the wire. Honey’s Sox Appeal had six lengths on the next horse, Wild Munny.

Ari Gia was sent off the 4/5 favorite with Honey’s Sox Appeal, her chief rival in the five-horse field, shooting for a fourth consecutive win in the race as a 3-1 second choice.

What wasn’t among Silva’s concerns was his horse’s heart. “She always gives 100 percent,” he said.  Ari Gia has had a fabulous year. She is 7-1-2 in 12 starts, the last seven at Canterbury, where she is 6-0-1 in 13 starts over her career, five of those wins this summer.

Except for one race at Sunland, Arrieta has been on her all of 2019.


Sometimes you have to wait even when your horse has crossed the wire first.

Wait and then wait some more.

And worry.

Racing does that even to the most confident people. You know how something should turn out, but this is racing.

Certainties ?  They don’t exist. Never have.

Talk to John Mentz some time. He’ll set you straight.

“Over confidence is not my problem,” he said.

Especially when the racing stewards are involved.

As they were after the Distaff when Leandro Goncalves placed an objection for interference after running second to Jareth Loveberry and Ready to Runaway, Mentz’s horse.

Goncalves’ horse, Pinup Girl, was shooting for a third consecutive win in this race but the jockey had to check his horse approaching the turn and he placed an objection against the winner.

Meanwhile, Menz waited. …and, finally, the stewards upheld the finish. “I was.a little concerned,” he said. “We were all a little nervous.”

After all, he watched as his Beachflower was taken down in a graded stakes at Keeneland Race Course last year. “You just never know,” he said.

The winning time was 1:46.13


It was a long time coming, the reappearance of the fastest horse in Shakopee and one of the fastest in the country.

We speak of Mr. Jagermeister, of course.

Maladies of one kind or another kept this speedster in the barn for a spell and away from Shakopee at various times when races appeared to fit him well elsewhere.

He last appeared before his Canterbury fans a year ago at this time when he won the Minnesota Classic in convincing fashion on Festival Day in 2018.

This time it was the Crocrock Sprint, in a runaway.

Mister Banjoman and Orlando Mojica waged a gallant challenge with a dangling right bridle that snapped a few jumps out of the gate, but that was not nearly enough to stay with this speedster.

Goncalves just let his horse do his thing, run fast, and they finished 5 ¼ lengths in front of Drop of Golden Sun, who had two lengths on Cinco Star. Mister Banjoman,meanwhile, fell back to finish fifth in the seven-horse field. The winning time was 1:09.87

Trainer Valorie Lund is considering the Grade III Ack Ack on September 28 at Churchill Downs next for Jaegermeister, race that might include the formidable Omaha Beach.


     $100,000 CLASSIC

The dossier on this horse once he retires will include nothing but superlatives. Big, strong, durable, fast.

Winner of more than $350, 000 at Canterbury Park alone, more than $500,000 career-wise… and a Minnesota-bred at that.

As well as a name he lives up to, time after time.

Hot Shot Kid.

Winner of 12 races in 26 career starts, 10-for-14 at Canterbury Park.

The first Minnesota-bred in Warren Bush’s stable, which now holds eight.

Born in Windom, Minnesota and long a resident of Iowa, Bush has plenty of relatives in both states, and he loves spreading the joy throughout the family, naming horses after grandchildren or for things they enjoy doing.

It’s a family thing, and there was more good will to spread on Sunday after Hot Shot Kid turned what was a two-horse race for a short while into a one-horse race when it counted, expanding his lead to four lengths at the wire.

His only real pursuer in what turned into a four-horse race after three scratches was Fireman Oscar, who he put away at the top of the stretch, passing the wire in 1:44.82.

So, why did Busch, decide to drop foals in Minnesota, despite living in Iowa?

“The money,” he said, referring to the compact Canterbury Park entered with Mystic Lake in 2012.



Even the connections to Secretariat were besieged by doubt and uncertainty whenever Big Red walked into a gate.

In the racing world, owning the best horse in a two-horse race is not enough to dissolve all concern in the moments before the bell.

Thus, Bob Lindgren, owner of the odds-on favorite Happy Hour Cowboy fought off pre-race negativity as his horse lined up on Sunday in a seven-horse field.

`Not even the prospect of feeding and training in one of the track’s top barns, Mac Robertson’s, is enough sometimes to curtail all fear. After all, Rush Hour Traffic had run down the Robertson-trained Defend the Rose in the previous race, the Debutante.

In this case, there was no need for any anxiety, as it turned out.

Happy Hour Cowboy, under Orlando Mojica, was positioned perfectly to dispose of the front-running second choice Lil’ Ninja and, when that one tired, finish in front of Public Safety and Big Falcon Rocket with a winning time of 1:12.06.

“Oh, you always worry, about a lot of things,” Lindgren said in the winner’s circle.

In Happy Hour’s maiden start, for example, on July 26. “He finished second and he was bumped three times,” Lindgren said. “There should have been an inquiry of some kind.”

Sunday’s win should go a long way toward salving that complaint.

After all, Lindgren learned something about his horse in that race. “He still hasn’t learned to eat peppermints,” he said.

But he now knows how to win a stakes race.

And $60,000.


Winning trainer Gary Scherer was addressed from the top of the steps as he left the paddock before the fifth race.

“Hey,” trainer Mike Biehler said, “the whole grandstand was riding your horse and you still won.”

Scherer laughed. “If you use that quote, make sure that you point out Biehler said it,” he said.

Biehler was referring to the fourth race, won by Rush Hour Traffic, who stayed within the shadow of front-running Defend the Rose, trained by Mac Robertson.

Winning rider Leandro Goncalves said that his instructions from Scherer were quite simple. “Don’t let the seven get too far ahead,” he told me.

“This horse has run inside, outside, behind horses and can run just about anywhere,” Goncalves said. So, he tracked the front-runner just as the trainer had suggested, overtaking her inside the 16th pole, with a winning time of 1:13.43 and Stylin N Profilin and Rental Pool in third and fourth respectively. The win was the second for Rush Hour in her short career for Sugarland Thoroughbreds.

Notable winners in this race include Bold Sharokee in 1992, Chick Fight in 2008 and Esprit de Bleu two years later.  And, in 2016 and 2017, horses named Shipmate and Firstmate.


The Festival underwent an immediate delay after Reigning Berries got rider Kaitlin Bedord to think “ain’t that the berries” or something closely akin upon unseating her at the gate for race one. She was subsequently scratched by gate veterinarians, sending some of the early crowd to re-wager.

Not that it mattered to Beep Beep Zoom Zoom, who broke her maiden last time out. Despite stumbling noticeably, she recovered midstretch in the 350-yard sprint to win easily, in front of Wicked and Vo Fantastic Aira, in :15.18.

An excellent win for the Paul Ludemann barn from Buffalo, whose life is devoted to horses in one manner or another. His girls are or have been deeply involved in barrel racing. “We were at a rodeo last night,” he said.

The win was a welcome boost to his stable coffers after several setbacks this season. Several of his racers were sidelined by one ailment or another.

Winning Sunday’s race was worth nearly $32,000, a nice piece of change for the family’s racing operation.

For Packer, too, after winning his first of two stakes. “Not a bad start to the day, eh, Berkley.”  “Not a bit,” he said. “She stumbled rather badly but got back up and outran everything around her.”


This race made stake sweepers of the rider, Packer, and the meet’s champion trainer, Jason Olmstead, for the fifth consecutive meet,

Jess Doin Time also became a four-time career winner, in easy fashion.

Packer knew almost out of the gate that he was destined for his second consecutive win. “That was easy,” he said. “She was much the best.”

The moment his horse’s feet hit the ground, he was in front, and stayed there to the wire, gaining steps nearly the entire 400 yards.

Packer was confident, but that didn’t carry over to owner Tom Pouliot, whose horse was a decisive favorite at ½, who pointed out that with a “heavy favorite” there are lots of things to worry over.

“That makes you more nervous,” he said. “Just thinking about all the things that can happen.” Her start in the Derby in Shakopee on July 7, for instance, when she reared, popped the gate and finished 10th.

What he seemed more certain about was the horse’s immediate future.  “We plan on breeding her this fall and then bringing her back to race afterwards,” he said.  “That’s the nice thing about quarter horses. You can get their embryos and then race them again.”