The Filly & Mare Bonus Challenge

Filly power is in full force on Saturday, August 4th, as Canterbury hosts its second annual Fillies Race for Hope event, raising money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer. The no-boys-allowed race card includes four stakes, one of which is reserved for the fastest girls on the track: the Fillies and Mares Race for Hope Bonus Challenge.

Saturday’s Bonus Challenge is open to fillies and mares three-year-old and up who are enrolled in the Bank of America Challenge Program. The inaugural running of this event will be held at 400 yards and offers a purse of $25,000, thanks to Mystic Lake and the American Quarter Horse Association.

Quarter horses have an annual divisional competition similar to that of the Breeders’ Cup: the Bank of American Racing Challenge Championship. Horses can be enrolled into the program at the time of foal registration for a nominal fee or entered later in their lives for a bit more. Those that are enrolled may be nominated to challenge races across the country for their appropriate divisions, culminating in a final event during the last weekend of October.

The Challenge Program is part Breeders’ Cup and part bracketology: there are races of varying distances and age levels, but horses must pass a series of qualifying trials and regional races to earn a berth in the final events. Regional races are win-and-you’re-in events, though as in the Breeders’ Cup, the finals move from track to track. The 2012 Challenge Championship is close to home this year, making its first appearance at Prairie Meadows, in Altoona, Iowa. (more about the Challenge Championship in the video below)

In addition to the six Challenge race series, many tracks offer “bonus” Challenge races; victory in a bonus race does not give the winner a seed in a final event, but it does reward those who are nominated with the opportunity to run in an additional stakes race and the chance to earn some extra purse money.

Saturday’s Bonus race has attracted some of Canterbury’s toughest fillies but also drew a few shippers and some former Canterbury starters who have been making their marks on tracks around the country. All eyes will be on the 8-5 morning line favorite, #3 Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above), as she returns to defend her freshly minted track record at this same distance: 19.625. Huckleberry Mojito has won both of her two starts at Canterbury, including the impressive performance last time out to take the Canterbury Derby. This Feature Mr Jess Filly is only improving as a three-year-old and loves this track, and boasts the trainer/jockey combo of Ed Ross Hardy and Nik Goodwin.

To Huckleberry’s outside may be the toughest shipper, #4 Believers Gathering (7-2). The six-year-old mare by Agouti spent her winter hitting the board in allowance races at Hialeah; prior to that she was a stakes competitor at Will Rogers Downs, Prairie Meadows and Remington Park. She’ll be making her debut at Canterbury as well as her first start in six months.

The other shipper to watch is the outside mare #9 Streakin Rare (4-1), who has followed a similar path as Believers Gathering but with one important advantage: she’s been here before. Streakin Rare raced against the boys at Canterbury last summer in the Great Lakes Stakes, and happened to finish second behind one of the best horses to compete over this surface, Jess A Runner, whose performance that day shattered the 440-yard track record. She was easily the best of the rest in that field and the return to this track may help her come back into form after her long layoff.

Don your best pink shirt and come out to the track to support this cause and watch some of Minnesota’s most talented ladies this Saturday! Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and shares her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Bob Morehouse On Tap

Some of Canterbury’s top older horses return to the track this week for the 13th running of The Bob Morehouse Memorial Stakes, a 400-yard race for three-year-olds and up. Though it is an open event, preference goes to Minnesota-breds, and only one entry in the field hails from outside the state.

Thursday, July 26th: The Bob Morehouse Memorial Stakes, $12,500, 400 yards

Leading Trainer: Ed Ross Hardy (6)
Leading Jockey: Tad Leggett (3)
Record Purse: $22,250, won by First Class Smarty in 2009

Last year the race went to Lien on Me, a three-year-old Minnesota-bred gelding owned by Tom Pouliot, trained by Brent Clay, and ridden by Jennifer Schmidt. The horse overcame a slow start to defeat post-favorite Six It Up by half a length at the wire as the 8-1 upset winner. His time of 20.081 earned him a 96 speed index but was not fast enough to reach the stakes record time of 19.85, set in 2006 by First Smart Muggins.

Lien on Me’s victory prevented Six It Up from earning two consecutive Morehouse victories, after winning the race in 2010 as a three-year-old. She returns this year to avenge her loss and try to become the second horse to win the event multiple times, following the form of First Class Smarty, who won in 2007 and 2009 (the race was not held in 2008). The five-year-old Tres Seis mare will make her third start of the year and third start for trainer Amber Blair. #5 Six It Up (4-1) has yet to find her way into the winners’ circle in over a year, but her affinity for this track and her back class may work in her favor Thursday. In her 11 lifetime starts at Canterbury, she has hit the board nine times, including five wins. She has been running in open races at Canterbury as well as Prairie Meadows, where she finished third behind Champion Mare Spit Curl Diva in the Grade 3 Keokuk Stakes last fall.

Six It Up isn’t the only horse returning from last year’s running of this event; #6 Dangerous Guns (5-1) will return following his disappointing sixth place finish in 2011. Dangerous Guns will try 400 yards for the first time since that race; the six-year-old gelding has been competing exclusively in 870-yard races at Canterbury, Louisiana, and Prairie Meadows. He steps back up in class to compete here but is 11 for 20 in the money at this track.

Dangerous Guns’ toughest competition may be from his half-brother, Explosive Guns (3-1) who will run alongside him to the outside. Explosive Guns typically runs against tougher company and is taking well to longer distances, including a fast closing finish in last month’s Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ and NCQHRA Derby to earn third place.

Keep an eye on #4 Dutch Wagon: This four-year-old son of Pyc Paint Your Wagon is trained by leading quarter horse trainer Ed Hardy and ridden by Nik Goodwin; these two combine for a 38% win percentage at this meet. Don’t let the class bump fool you, this horse has been facing tough horses at Prairie Meadows and Remington Park, and appears to be rounding into form since shipping up to Canterbury this summer. His last race was a $10,000 claiming event, but it was for non-winner of three lifetime, and he won easily as the post-time favorite. He won by half a length; though this is not a large margin of victory, a horse that wins by more than a nose typically will have more to offer when they are pushed by faster horses.

Recap: Dash In A Flash Stakes, Saturday, July 21st

If you caught Extreme Race day last Saturday at Canterbury Park, you witnessed novelty events outside of horse racing as well as one within our sport: the hundred-yard dash. The $15,000 Dash In A Flash Stakes was a 110-yard event open to three-year-olds and up.

This is the first time the event has been run as a stakes race since 2008 and it was the first 110-yard race in track history (previous Dash in a Flash stakes were held at 100 yards). The entries included two horses that had last raced at Prairie Meadows and one shipper from Boise, but the victory went to the local Red Hot Zoomer (pictured above), who was second out of the gate but surged to a half-length win over Trs Dashin Rona.

Red Hot Zoomer is a three-year-old filly by Azoom, out of the Jody O Toole mare Prairie War, bred in Texas by Jim Pitts. She is owned by Terry Thorson, trained by Ed Ross Hardy and was ridden by Nik Goodwin.

Are you betting this jockey angle yet? Nik is now 35 of 41 in the money for quarter horse starts this meet; 31 of 41 starts as the first or second place finisher. Congratulations to the connections of this talented young filly; we can expect to continue to see great things from her in the future.

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and shares her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Stakes Racing Recaps

There has been plenty of quarter horse stakes action over the past half dozen racing days at Canterbury Park. Who won? Who lost? Who set a new track record? Here’s a recap of Canterbury’s recent big races:

Great Lakes Stakes

Stakes action kicked off last week with the 16th running of the Great Lakes Stakes, featuring three-year-olds and up running 440 yards for $21,000. The field included winner of this year’s Skip Zimmerman Stakes, Hollywood Trickster (pictured above), a New Mexico-bred gelding who came from seventh place at the break to win by half a length. The five-year-old repeated in the Great Lakes Stakes when he broke next to last and flew up the stretch to defeat Paintyourownwagon by a neck. Hollywood Trickster was the post-time favorite and covered the quarter mile in 21.744, earning a 104 speed index. Paintyourownwagon finished second with a 103 SI, and A Faster Streaker was a close third, earning a 101 index.

Hollywood Trickster is owned by Christine Hovey and trained by Ed Hardy; Derek Bell was up for this win. Unlike many horses racing at 440 yards, Hollywood Trickster is actually attempting shorter races than he is used to; the son of thoroughbred Favorite Trick, out of a Heza Fast Man mare is a talented 550 and 870 performer. He lives up to his name at 440 yards, deceiving us into thinking he is too far behind to win but gains enough momentum to pull off a dramatic ending. His replay is the last race on the video below:

 

Northlands Futurity

Midnight Sunlight was the upset winner in Thursday’s running of the $59,800 Northlands Futurity, though a closer look at her past performances suggests that this win should not have been that much of a surprise. The filly did not break on top, but was moved quickly to second place and kicked into gear late in the race to defeat Mr Shakem Diva by a nose at the wire. Mr Shakem Diva turned in a breakout performance, leading the race until the final strides and narrowly defeating post-time favorite and fastest qualifier Bp Painted Lady. Bp Painted Lady was bumped coming out of the gate and was clear of traffic soon after; she moved up steadily throughout the race but lacked the needed kick to get ahead of her foes. The three-way photo finish suggests that we may have several future racing stars on our grounds.

Owned by Brenda Reiswig, and ridden by Stormy Smith, Midnight Sunlight earned the first Northlands victory for trainer Vic Hanson. Midnight Sunlight’s success began with her breeding; bred by Bobby Cox in Texas, the filly is by one of the leading two-year-old sires, Ivory James, out of Quick Moon Sign by Royal Quick Dash, a top Texas broodmare sire. The filly was the fastest qualifier to the $350,000 Grade 2 Oklahoma Futurity this spring at Remington Park. There were 15 qualifying trials with nearly 150 horses, and her time of 15.391 was the best on the card for the 300 yard trials. She ran second in the final to Dash for Coronas, who went on to qualify for and run fourth in the Grade 1 $1,100,000 Heritage Place Futurity, also at Remington Park.

Midnight Sunlight ran 350 yards in 17.843; Mr Shakem Diva was a nose behind at 17.846 and Bp Painted Lady ran 17.864. Each horse earned a 93 speed index. It may be time to put all three of these horses in your virtual stable: Midnight Sunlight is just beginning to show her true talent and will be one to watch in the years to come. Mr Shakem Diva had the race won at 250 and 300 yards, so be ready to put money on that one when he runs a shorter race. Bp Painted Lady closed fast at the end of the race to get up for third; in an allowance race and maybe at a longer distance, she’ll have no trouble getting the win.

 

Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby

Huckleberry Mojito did not disappoint in the Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby last Saturday. The three-year-old daughter of Feature Mr Jess won in style, leading at the first call and pulling away from the field to win by nearly two lengths. Huckleberry Mojito was the fastest qualifier to the derby with 19.97; on Saturday she stunned everyone with a final time of 19.625, setting a new track record and earning a remarkable 108 speed index. The previous track record was 16.692, set by Mr Hempens Feature in a trial for the 2010 Canterbury Derby. He lost to Time for Wilena in the final, who set the stakes record for this race with 16.699. Huckleberry Mojito now owns both the track and stakes record.

Feature Mr Jess is a leading quarter horse sire, but handicappers and breeders know that his daughters, while particularly talented, take more time than usual to mature. Feature Mr Jess fillies tend to be better as three-year-olds than in their first year, and like their sire, the longer the race the better. Huckleberry Mojito is no exception, showing tremendous improvement this year with every race.

Huckleberry Mojito was bred in Texas by Gary and Patty Peterson, owned by L M R 2011, and trained by Ed Hardy, giving him his seventh Canterbury Derby win. Nik Goodwin chalks up another quarter horse win; bet on a quarter horse for no other reason than Goodwin getting the mount this meet and you’ll hit first or second place over 90% of the time. Her replay is the second race on the video below:

 

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and shares her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

11,000+ Enjoy Rescheduled July 4th Festivities

Who was your favorite winner over the weekend: Serena Williams, the Bulls at Pamplona, Oscar the wiener dog, Lori Keith, Soonerette, Huckleberry Mojito or the hot dog champ?

They all deserve a tip of the cap, but Soonerette and Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above) were truly the stars of Saturday’s card in Shakopee.

There were 11,337 fans on hand who might have ideas of their own, but most of them would surely agree with the two equine stars.

Soonerette, the 3-year-old filly out of the Donnie Von Hemel barn shipped in from Arlington Park and stole the early show under a smart ride from Tanner Riggs in the $75,000 Northbound Pride Stakes.

Then in the $40,650 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby, Nik Goodwin, the leading Q rider on the track, guided Huckleberry Mojito to an easy win, setting a track record of 19.3 in the process.

By that time Keith had already ridden three winners on the card, Williams had long put her Wimbledon trophy in a safe spot, the bulls were resting up for another shot at the Spanish crowd and Oscar was on his way home to Ellsworth, Wis., with his championship booty.

NORTHBOUND PRIDE OAKS

Whenever the money gets better, the horses start arriving and three of them shipped in for the race named after one of Canterbury’s Hall of Fame runners from the past.

There was Banded from Prairie Meadows, Starship Duchess from Arlington Park and Soonerette (above) from the same suburban Chicago site.

The mile race on the turf belonged entirely to Soonerette and Tanner Riggs, who guided the Master Command filly to a gate to wire triumph for her 60 percent cut of the $75,000 prize.

The margin at the wire was two lengths back to Banded, with Starship in third after a perfectly executed ride from Riggs, who got very basic instructions in the paddock from Von Hemel’s assistant.

He was told the put the horse at the lead out of the gate and that’s just what he did.

“They just told me to let her roll,” Riggs said, “and that’s what I did.”

Riggs regarded the win as payback to Von Hemel for favors done over the years. “He gave me horses to ride at Arlington,” Riggs said, “and kind of worked as a mentor to me.”

Von Hemel was not present but Tanner’s uncle and aunt, Roger and Lisa Riggs from near Mitchell, S.D., were. “We like to come up and watch Tanner ride when we can,” Roger said. “He rode a good race today.”

A bystander took a look at the winning horse and remarked. “You wouldn’t have guess that horse would win it. He’s kind of ratty looking.”

Sometimes looks are deceiving and that was certainly the case in this race.

CANTERBURY PARK QUARTER HORSE DERBY

Huckleberry, a three-year-old daughter of Feature Mr. Jess from Eye Opening Special, opened a few eyes and then tried to close some, too.

Under Goodwin, she broke cleanly and charged to the front, finishing easily in front of Painted Lies and Paint Or More.

“I wasn’t think record, but I knew she was traveling pretty fast,” said Goodwin. “She broke straight and I just tried to guide her from there.”

Moments later in the winner’s circle, the winner nearly took out winning trainer Ed Ross Hardy, delivering a kick to his leg. The impact was reduced by Hardy’s proximity to the horse. Had he been a couple of feet further away, it might have leveled him.

The win was the third straight for Huckleberry, who was the fastest qualifier for the Derby in the June 23 trials.

The winner has a historic blood-line connection to Canterbury. Her dam won the Express Handicap twice, the 350 Handicap and the Bob Morehouse, all in Shakopee.

Huckleberry apparently shares one more trait with her mama, who was about as ornery as they come on occasion.

None of that seemed to matter in the winner’s circle on Saturday.

CONTROVERSY DOGS WIENER RACE

There were concerns earlier in the week that Oscar might not be ready for the finals of the 2012 Dachshund Dash, not ready even though he was a prohibitive favorite after qualifying with one of the fastest times ever.

Oscar (in the lead above) suffered a mishap last week and has been on antibiotics the last few days. It seems that he got a little overly excited when his owner Chrissy Bitterman got home from work the other day and she inadvertently stepped on him.

That raised all sorts of concerns prior to Saturday’s championship, postponed from July 4 along with the rest of that card.

Nonetheless, Oscar was a clear winner once again, as he was in the qualifying heat, outrunning nine rivals to win easily, although not without controversy. Oscar shot out of the gate like a rocket and straight to the finish line where Bitterman, of Ellsworth, Wis., awaited him with a treat.

He stopped upon reaching the finish, however, and there was some brief uncertainly whether he had actually crossed the line.

A review determined that, yes, in fact, his nose had broken the plane.

“He always stops like that,” said Bitterman, ”as soon as he gets to me. He’s been trained to do that.”

Upon hearing that Oscar had run on antibiotics, an anti inflammatory drug for his recent injury, there was a minor objection that it had not been reported in the program, as such cases are with the horses.

Another quick review determined that what applies in the horse world is not necessarily a factor in the dog domain.

Bitterman also explained that Oscar’s full name is Oscar Michael, named after her late son. She was not aware of the contest until a friend e-mailed her in June suggesting that she enter Oscar in the contest.

Oscar has been on a bland diet all week along with the medication. Even his treats had to be changed.

A 10-pound, 15-inch 2-year-old, Oscar did his training in a cornfield on property owned by Jan Godden of River Falls, a friend of Bitterman’s.

“He’d run all over that field,” said Bitterman. Well, until the injury, he did.

“I didn’t know if he could run very fast today,” she added

Oscar answered that concern with an affirmative “No problem.”

Afterward there was a treat awaiting him in the winner’s circle. His diet still didn’t allow the usual treats, so Bittmeran prepared something special.

A bit of bacon.

TOP DOG GULPS FIVE DOGS

The rules to the hot-dog eating contest have changed in the last few years, putting some of the top dogs of year’s gone by at a disadvantage.

At one time, the number of hot dogs consumed in a period of time determined the winner. The contestant to consume five hot dogs the fastest has been the winner of recent contests.

That puts a seven-time winner such as Paul Gustafson of Wayzata, affectionately known as Gus D Dawn, at a decided disadvantage. “I guess I’m just getting old,” he lamented after Saturday’s contest, won by Mark Pederson of Little Canada.

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

Video Credit: Jon Mikkelson & The Canterbury Park Television Department

11,000+ Enjoy Rescheduled July 4th Festivities

Who was your favorite winner over the weekend: Serena Williams, the Bulls at Pamplona, Oscar the wiener dog, Lori Keith, Soonerette, Huckleberry Mojito or the hot dog champ?

They all deserve a tip of the cap, but Soonerette and Huckleberry Mojito (pictured above) were truly the stars of Saturday’s card in Shakopee.

There were 11,337 fans on hand who might have ideas of their own, but most of them would surely agree with the two equine stars.

Soonerette, the 3-year-old filly out of the Donnie Von Hemel barn shipped in from Arlington Park and stole the early show under a smart ride from Tanner Riggs in the $75,000 Northbound Pride Stakes.

Then in the $40,650 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby, Nik Goodwin, the leading Q rider on the track, guided Huckleberry Mojito to an easy win, setting a track record of 19.3 in the process.

By that time Keith had already ridden three winners on the card, Williams had long put her Wimbledon trophy in a safe spot, the bulls were resting up for another shot at the Spanish crowd and Oscar was on his way home to Ellsworth, Wis., with his championship booty.

NORTHBOUND PRIDE OAKS

Whenever the money gets better, the horses start arriving and three of them shipped in for the race named after one of Canterbury’s Hall of Fame runners from the past.

There was Banded from Prairie Meadows, Starship Duchess from Arlington Park and Soonerette (above) from the same suburban Chicago site.

The mile race on the turf belonged entirely to Soonerette and Tanner Riggs, who guided the Master Command filly to a gate to wire triumph for her 60 percent cut of the $75,000 prize.

The margin at the wire was two lengths back to Banded, with Starship in third after a perfectly executed ride from Riggs, who got very basic instructions in the paddock from Von Hemel’s assistant.

He was told the put the horse at the lead out of the gate and that’s just what he did.

“They just told me to let her roll,” Riggs said, “and that’s what I did.”

Riggs regarded the win as payback to Von Hemel for favors done over the years. “He gave me horses to ride at Arlington,” Riggs said, “and kind of worked as a mentor to me.”

Von Hemel was not present but Tanner’s uncle and aunt, Roger and Lisa Riggs from near Mitchell, S.D., were. “We like to come up and watch Tanner ride when we can,” Roger said. “He rode a good race today.”

A bystander took a look at the winning horse and remarked. “You wouldn’t have guess that horse would win it. He’s kind of ratty looking.”

Sometimes looks are deceiving and that was certainly the case in this race.

CANTERBURY PARK QUARTER HORSE DERBY

Huckleberry, a three-year-old daughter of Feature Mr. Jess from Eye Opening Special, opened a few eyes and then tried to close some, too.

Under Goodwin, she broke cleanly and charged to the front, finishing easily in front of Painted Lies and Paint Or More.

“I wasn’t think record, but I knew she was traveling pretty fast,” said Goodwin. “She broke straight and I just tried to guide her from there.”

Moments later in the winner’s circle, the winner nearly took out winning trainer Ed Ross Hardy, delivering a kick to his leg. The impact was reduced by Hardy’s proximity to the horse. Had he been a couple of feet further away, it might have leveled him.

The win was the third straight for Huckleberry, who was the fastest qualifier for the Derby in the June 23 trials.

The winner has a historic blood-line connection to Canterbury. Her dam won the Express Handicap twice, the 350 Handicap and the Bob Morehouse, all in Shakopee.

Huckleberry apparently shares one more trait with her mama, who was about as ornery as they come on occasion.

None of that seemed to matter in the winner’s circle on Saturday.

CONTROVERSY DOGS WIENER RACE

There were concerns earlier in the week that Oscar might not be ready for the finals of the 2012 Dachshund Dash, not ready even though he was a prohibitive favorite after qualifying with one of the fastest times ever.

Oscar (in the lead above) suffered a mishap last week and has been on antibiotics the last few days. It seems that he got a little overly excited when his owner Chrissy Bitterman got home from work the other day and she inadvertently stepped on him.

That raised all sorts of concerns prior to Saturday’s championship, postponed from July 4 along with the rest of that card.

Nonetheless, Oscar was a clear winner once again, as he was in the qualifying heat, outrunning nine rivals to win easily, although not without controversy. Oscar shot out of the gate like a rocket and straight to the finish line where Bitterman, of Ellsworth, Wis., awaited him with a treat.

He stopped upon reaching the finish, however, and there was some brief uncertainly whether he had actually crossed the line.

A review determined that, yes, in fact, his nose had broken the plane.

“He always stops like that,” said Bitterman, ”as soon as he gets to me. He’s been trained to do that.”

Upon hearing that Oscar had run on antibiotics, an anti inflammatory drug for his recent injury, there was a minor objection that it had not been reported in the program, as such cases are with the horses.

Another quick review determined that what applies in the horse world is not necessarily a factor in the dog domain.

Bitterman also explained that Oscar’s full name is Oscar Michael, named after her late son. She was not aware of the contest until a friend e-mailed her in June suggesting that she enter Oscar in the contest.

Oscar has been on a bland diet all week along with the medication. Even his treats had to be changed.

A 10-pound, 15-inch 2-year-old, Oscar did his training in a cornfield on property owned by Jan Godden of River Falls, a friend of Bitterman’s.

“He’d run all over that field,” said Bitterman. Well, until the injury, he did.

“I didn’t know if he could run very fast today,” she added

Oscar answered that concern with an affirmative “No problem.”

Afterward there was a treat awaiting him in the winner’s circle. His diet still didn’t allow the usual treats, so Bittmeran prepared something special.

A bit of bacon.

TOP DOG GULPS FIVE DOGS

The rules to the hot-dog eating contest have changed in the last few years, putting some of the top dogs of year’s gone by at a disadvantage.

At one time, the number of hot dogs consumed in a period of time determined the winner. The contestant to consume five hot dogs the fastest has been the winner of recent contests.

That puts a seven-time winner such as Paul Gustafson of Wayzata, affectionately known as Gus D Dawn, at a decided disadvantage. “I guess I’m just getting old,” he lamented after Saturday’s contest, won by Mark Pederson of Little Canada.

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

Video Credit: Jon Mikkelson & The Canterbury Park Television Department

Top Quarter Horses On Tap

This week brings us two major quarter horse stakes races at Canterbury Park: The Northlands Futurity on Thursday and the Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby on Saturday. These are the two biggest quarter horse races of the meet for open company and feature some of the best 2-year-old and 3-year-old quarter horses on the grounds.

Thursday, July 5: Northlands Futurity, $59,800, 350 yards

Leading Trainer: Ed Ross Hardy (6)

Leading Jockey: Tad Leggett (3)

Record Purse: $64,000, won by Cruzin the Wagon in 2011

Thursday’s race card features one of the highlights of the 2012 Canterbury Park meet: the 25th running of the Northlands Futurity. The Northlands is open to two-year-olds that qualified from four trials held Saturday, June 16th. This year’s purse of nearly $60,000 rivals the record purse offered last year of $64,000, when the race was won by Mary Louise and Terry Pursel’s Cruzin the Wagon, trained by Brent Clay and ridden by Stormy Smith. With a time of 17.754, Cruzin the Wagon narrowly missed the stakes record time of 17.74 set in 2006 by Rodney von Ohlen’s First Class Smarty. Cruzin went on to break not only a stakes time, but a track record time at Remington Park this spring when he won the Grade 3 Jack Brooks Stakes at 350 yards in 17.060 over a sloppy track. Cruzin the Wagon is one of a number of horses that have proven themselves on the Canterbury surface and continued to make a splash on the national scene. Still in training today, Cruzin the Wagon has a 2012 record of 5-4-1-0 and earnings of over $135,000; he has nine wins out of his eleven lifetime starts to date and has earned close to $300,000.

Will one of this year’s entries follow Cruzin’s hoofprints? Fastest qualifier and morning line favorite #9 Bp Painted Lady (8-5) has the bloodlines and talent to do so. Bred by Bill Price in Oklahoma, Bp Painted Lady is by leading two-year-old sire Pyc Paint Your Wagon and out of the First Down Dash mare Ladys Is First. She has never been worse than second in her four lifetime starts. Her campaign began this spring at Remington Park, where she finished second in a stakes race before shipping to Canterbury for the Northlands trials. Bp Painted Lady did not break sharply in the trial but gained enough ground in the final 100 yards to beat the field by over two lengths as the 1-9 post time favorite.

Second-fastest qualifier #1 Nn Absolutely (9-2) broke his maiden in his trial and won by over a length. The Tres Seis gelding trained by Ed Ross Hardy hopped slightly at the gate and broke last, but like Bp Painted Lady, gained ground near the end for a dominating win.

Third-fastest qualifier is #7 Lynns Wagon (6-1). The Pyc Paint Your Wagon filly won gate to wire, defeating Eye a Hero and Jess Thats Blazin, who also qualified. Lynns Wagon ran impressively and may be capable of even more when she is in stakes company and can pair up with a competitive horse.

#5 Midnight Sunlight (5-1) broke his maiden in his debut at Remington Park in March; he led briefly in his trial but fell back to second behind Nn Absolutely. Midnight Sunlight was the second place finisher in the Grade 2 Oklahoma Futurity.

#2 Mr Shakem Diva (10-1) ran second to the fastest qualifier, but beware of the comment lines in that effort. After the break, he was bumped slightly but not enough to set him off his path; he ran evenly with Bp Painted Lady until she pulled away in the stretch. This horse may not be the one to beat the fastest qualifier today, but he is well-bred and has shown steady improvement, keep an eye out for this one in future races.

#6 Sr Ivory Queen (12-1) will make an interesting exotic play, the Bobby Cox-bred Ivory James filly led the field for the entire race to defeat post-time favorite Traffic Patrol by a length and a half.

#4 Eye a Hero (15-1) has a good chance to outrun his odds. He hopped at the start of his trial, was pushed by the horse to his outside, and still had enough left to make a big run and get up for second behind Lynns Wagon.

#3 Naked Spur (15-1) was prevented from finishing better by gate trouble and overwhelming speed of winner Bp Painted Lady but the horse showed enough talent to finish strong and qualify for the final.

#10 Jess Thats Blazin (15-1) bobbled at the start and improved to third behind Lynns Wagon and Eye a Hero while attempting 350 yards for the first time in his trial.

#8 Traffic Patrol (15-1) finished second in her trial behind Sr Ivory Queen after a slow break. Traffic Patrol has shown speed and momentum near the end of each of her races, and her Thoroughbred bloodlines suggest she will do well with longer races.

Saturday, July 7: Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby, $40,650, 400 yards

Leading Trainer: Ed Ross Hardy (6)

Leading Jockey: Casey Lambert (2), Tad Leggett (2), Stormy Smith (2)

Record Purse: $100,000, won by Oh Bid Go in 1988 and Osceola Warrior in 1989

The 25th running of the Canterbury Derby will be held on Saturday, featuring the ten fastest three-year-olds from qualifying trials on June 23rd. Though Ed Ross Hardy leads the standings for this race with six wins, Brent Clay has won three of the last six years, including 2010 winner Time for Wilena, who set the stakes record of 19.699, and last year’s winner, I Am That Hero, owned by Brent and Karen Clay and ridden by Stormy Smith. After winning the Canterbury Derby last year in 20.259, I Am That Hero continued his campaign in trials, derbies and allowance races at Zia, Sunland, Hialeah and Remington, only finishing off the board twice in his 12 starts in 2011 and earning over $135,000.

The Canterbury Derby is a key race for local horses; the winner of the 2007 Derby, First Class Smarty, was also the winner of the Northlands Futurity the year before and still holds the stakes record time for that race. Mr La Bubba won the Derby in 2008; he won the Great Lakes Stakes the following year.

The field for this year’s race has extensive Canterbury experience but also brings backclass from Oklahoma, Iowa and Indiana. Two trial races were held to determine the fastest qualifiers, and the trial times were evenly split, each race qualifying five horses.

Remington shipper #3 Huckleberry Mojito was the fastest qualifier and will be the early favorite at 2-1 on the morning line. The Feature Mr Jess filly covered the 400 yards in only 19.97 and separated herself from the field by three lengths at the wire. Ed Ross Hardy trains Huckleberry Mojito and Nik Goodwin will ride; Goodwin wins at 42% on quarter horses at this meet and has been first or second in 24 of his 26 starts. As is typical with Feature Mr Jess fillies, she has shown remarkable improvement both as a three-year-old and at running longer distances.

Drawing to the outside of Huckleberry Mojito is #4 Painted Lies (4-1). Painted Lies (pictured at top) was the second fastest qualifier, winning his trial by a neck in 20.33. This was the fourth win in a row for the Pyc Paint Your Wagon gelding, trained by Amber Blair. Painted Lies was the fastest qualifier to the Minnesota Stallion Breeders and North Central Derby last month, and he won the final by a neck. Painted Lies has never run out of the money at Canterbury and was competitive at Remington Park this spring, including a fifth place finish behind Cruzin the Wagon in a $246,000 statebred stakes.

Huckleberry Mojito and Painted Lies will likely turn this event into a match race down the center of the track. Though Huckleberry Mojito has proven to be faster, Painted Lies has never faced the same level of competition, and this could elevate his performance in the race. Look for another Feature Mr Jess Filly, #10 Feature Dreamgirl (5-1), to close fast from the outside. Bred in Utah and trained by Ed Ross Hardy for owner David Wisdom, Feature Dreamgirl has run second to Painted Lies in her last three starts but has narrowed the gap each time. Feature Dreamgirl broke her maiden as a three-year-old against older horses at Remington Park and continues to improve at Canterbury.

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and shares her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Duke Deluxe Notches 12th Canterbury Win

Trainers like Canterbury Park for their reasons, jockeys for theirs and now it appears that horses, too, like the racetrack for reasons revealed with a simple glance at their PPs. Look no further than Thursday’s first race and the No. 2 horse, an eight-year-old gelding named Duke Deluxe.

Duke is mad about Canterbury and here is the proof:

With a late burst from his eight-year-old lungs, Duke ran down Royal Express and won for the 12th time – by, oh, the width of a nostril.

He has 12 career wins, six seconds and eight thirds from 61 career starts.

Not eye-catching numbers for any specific reason, unless you take a closer look at those PPs. Duke has 12 career wins. A 13th, in mid May, came at the Brown County Fair in South Dakota in an unrecognized race and is not included in his Daily Racing Form list of wins.

Twelve wins, all at Canterbury Park. He clearly likes this racetrack. Couldn’t win at six other tracks, only Canterbury.

A gelded son of Touch Gold, Duke Deluxe is tied with four horses for wins at Canterbury behind three other horses. Two Hall of Fame thoroughbreds – Hoist Her Flag, a two-time Horse of the Year, and John Bullit lead the list with 17 wins. Crocrock is next with 14. Sir Tricky, Texas Trio, Day Timer and Stock Dividend also have 12.

Moments after Duke’s win under Nik Goodwin on Thursday, Deb Bonn was on the cell phone from Canterbury to her daughter Amber,20, back in Aberdeen, S.D. Amber is half owner in the horse that the family refers to as “College Fund.”

Amber has jobs at two restaurants to pay her way through beauty college, but her share of the winnings from Thursday’s win will help considerably. “You can quit one of those jobs,” her mother told her.

Randy Bonn, who has been at Canterbury as an owner or trainer every year since 1985, bought the horse for his cousin, Jeff Boon, and daughter, Amber, in Phoenix last March and sent him to trainer Larry Donlin at Grand Island, Neb., for vetting.

They turned the horse out for 60 days, ran him twice in the South Dakota bushes and then debuted him Thursday in Shakopee, where he was sent off at 10-1, despite his history over this racetrack.

Duke Deluxe broke his maiden at Canterbury on June 21, 2007 in his sixth career start and is 12-3-1 from 21 starts in Shakopee.

Bob Lindgren owned him for three wins four years ago. “Bobbie Grissom called me about him,” Lindgren said. “She told me that the horse didn’t like the hard surface in Phoenix, but that he always did well here.”

A bit of an understatement, to say the least.

A GOODWIN HAT TRICK

Call it a blog boost, a blog bounce or merely a coincidence, but Nik Goodwin had a bang-up night on Thursday’s card.

The 36-year-old native Minnesotan was profiled in a blog story this week, and promptly responded by winning three races on Thursday’s card.

Goodwin won the opening race on the card with Duke Deluxe, the fourth race with Supremo Struckgold and the seventh with Thepointman.

He has 11 wins and is tied for fifth in the rider standings.

He leads the quarter horse standings with some amazing numbers. He has 11 wins, six more than any other rider. He has an amazing 11 wins and 12 seconds from 24 starts.

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

Nik Goodwin – The Local Boy

Nik Goodwin got his first look at the backside of Canterbury Downs in late spring of 1986. His father, Duane, trained a single quarter horse and Nik, a fifth grader, spent the summer with him, cleaning stalls and hanging out on the backside.

His father and grandfather had raced in the bushes and at small fairs throughout Minnesota and the Dakotas, and that summer of ’86 was an additional step in the direction of the racetrack for the young Goodwin.

Natives of the White Earth Ojibway reservation in Northern Minnesota, the Goodwins moved onto a farm between Cass Lake and Bemidji when Nik was a third grader. A few years later, he wrestled at 103 pounds for Bemidji High School and advanced to the state tournament as a sophomore. He ran on the cross country team his junior and senior years.

He graduated with a 3.95 GPA, completing several college courses his senior year, something he relates to a listener with a sense of pride.

“I enjoyed school. I did well,” Goodwin said. He liked the racetrack, too. Ultimately, its allure was too strong to resist. He was 17 years old when he rode his first winner, his father’s horse Moidore, at Assiniboia Downs.

Five years later, in 1997, he was the leading rider there.

His racetrack Odyssey took him to Maryland, where he found success, to tracks along the East Coast where he did not and, finally, to a home in Ocala, Fla., where he has spent the winters breaking babies after racing at Canterbury summers.

He has raced in Shakopee since 2006, a return home so to speak, although he was sidelined seven weeks last summer with a broken collarbone and two broken ribs.

The injuries are unavoidable in his sport. He was sidelined six months in 1995 after breaking three vertebrae in his back at Pimlico Race Course. “I was second in the standings to Edgar Prado when it happened,” Goodwin added.

It’s been a special week for Goodwin. His wife, Charity, and son Hunter, who’ll turn one on Wednesday, are here visiting. A second son, Layne, 4, is spending the summer here.

Meanwhile, their father is enjoying a productive summer with eight wins thus far on thoroughbreds. He is leading the quarter horse standings with 11 wins.

“I’ve been fortunate,” he added. “I’ve been riding good horses. I appreciate the opportunity.”

Goodwin is toying with the idea of racing somewhere when the Canterbury meet ends, although he hasn’t ruled out a return to Ocala where he has a home. Summers in Shakopee, enticing as they’ve become, are even more alluring now with the purse enhancement from Mystic Lake Casino.

“Everyone is more hopeful now,” he said.

Canterbury, of course, is its own special attraction.

“I like it here besides,” he said. “This is a beautiful facility, as nice as any around the country,” Goodwin added. “Plus management here has a lot of promotions attracting the younger generation… and families. Who knows, a youngster who watches the races here might one day become a rider, or a trainer.”

For now, raceriding is Goodwin’s ambition. The future? Who knows.

Maybe he’ll take a cue from his father, Duane, the one-time horse trainer who now teaches art at the Tribal College in Cass Lake and whose limestone sculpture of an Ojibway woman occupies a spot at St. Paul’s Mounds Park.

Maybe he’ll end up back in northern Minnesota, hunting and fishing. “It’s a beautiful place,” he said. Plus there is the attitude of the people in his native state.

“Minnesota nice,” he said.

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.

Nik Goodwin – The Local Boy

Nik Goodwin got his first look at the backside of Canterbury Downs in late spring of 1986. His father, Duane, trained a single quarter horse and Nik, a fifth grader, spent the summer with him, cleaning stalls and hanging out on the backside.

His father and grandfather had raced in the bushes and at small fairs throughout Minnesota and the Dakotas, and that summer of ’86 was an additional step in the direction of the racetrack for the young Goodwin.

Natives of the White Earth Ojibway reservation in Northern Minnesota, the Goodwins moved onto a farm between Cass Lake and Bemidji when Nik was a third grader. A few years later, he wrestled at 103 pounds for Bemidji High School and advanced to the state tournament as a sophomore. He ran on the cross country team his junior and senior years.

He graduated with a 3.95 GPA, completing several college courses his senior year, something he relates to a listener with a sense of pride.

“I enjoyed school. I did well,” Goodwin said. He liked the racetrack, too. Ultimately, its allure was too strong to resist. He was 17 years old when he rode his first winner, his father’s horse Moidore, at Assiniboia Downs.

Five years later, in 1997, he was the leading rider there.

His racetrack Odyssey took him to Maryland, where he found success, to tracks along the East Coast where he did not and, finally, to a home in Ocala, Fla., where he has spent the winters breaking babies after racing at Canterbury summers.

He has raced in Shakopee since 2006, a return home so to speak, although he was sidelined seven weeks last summer with a broken collarbone and two broken ribs.

The injuries are unavoidable in his sport. He was sidelined six months in 1995 after breaking three vertebrae in his back at Pimlico Race Course. “I was second in the standings to Edgar Prado when it happened,” Goodwin added.

It’s been a special week for Goodwin. His wife, Charity, and son Hunter, who’ll turn one on Wednesday, are here visiting. A second son, Layne, 4, is spending the summer here.

Meanwhile, their father is enjoying a productive summer with eight wins thus far on thoroughbreds. He is leading the quarter horse standings with 11 wins.

“I’ve been fortunate,” he added. “I’ve been riding good horses. I appreciate the opportunity.”

Goodwin is toying with the idea of racing somewhere when the Canterbury meet ends, although he hasn’t ruled out a return to Ocala where he has a home. Summers in Shakopee, enticing as they’ve become, are even more alluring now with the purse enhancement from Mystic Lake Casino.

“Everyone is more hopeful now,” he said.

Canterbury, of course, is its own special attraction.

“I like it here besides,” he said. “This is a beautiful facility, as nice as any around the country,” Goodwin added. “Plus management here has a lot of promotions attracting the younger generation… and families. Who knows, a youngster who watches the races here might one day become a rider, or a trainer.”

For now, raceriding is Goodwin’s ambition. The future? Who knows.

Maybe he’ll take a cue from his father, Duane, the one-time horse trainer who now teaches art at the Tribal College in Cass Lake and whose limestone sculpture of an Ojibway woman occupies a spot at St. Paul’s Mounds Park.

Maybe he’ll end up back in northern Minnesota, hunting and fishing. “It’s a beautiful place,” he said. Plus there is the attitude of the people in his native state.

“Minnesota nice,” he said.

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.

“Q” Stakes Previews & Recaps

Summer is the peak season of quarter horse racing, and this year is no exception. Let’s recap a few of the recent major races and use them to identify future handicapping opportunities.

June 9th brought us the Minnesota Stallion Breeders and North Central Derby, featuring three-year-olds running 400 yards for $12,500. Fastest qualifier and even-money favorite Painted Lies (pictured above) won as expected, but only by a narrow margin over second-fastest qualifier Feature Dreamgirl. Bred by Bob Moore Farms, LLC, Painted Lies is a son of leading sire Pyc Paint Your Wagon and out of Teller Lies, by leading sire of broodmares First Down Dash. Jockey Cody Smith brought the horse to his third consecutive win for trainer Amber Blair and owner Tom Maher.

The Grade 1 Ruidoso Futurity and Grade 1 Ruidoso Derby were also held on June 9th, the day of the Belmont Stakes. As in the thoroughbred world, quarter horse fans will not see a Triple Crown winner this year, as the winner of each race will not start in the Rainbow Futurity or Derby. The connections of each horse have elected to skip the second leg and save their horses for Grade 1 All American Futurity Derby on Labor Day weekend.

Two-year-old filly and supplemented entry PJ Chick in Black defeated post-time favorite and fastest qualifier Krash Cartel by a neck to win the $600,000 Ruidoso Futurity. This race was her fourth win in as many starts and placed her at the top of the national poll for two-year-olds, over BP Cartels Alibi, winner of the Grade 1 $1,115,000 Heritage Place Futurity at Remington Park. Canterbury Connections alert: local trainer Ed Ross Hardy won the Heritage Place Futurity in 2010 with Givinitaroyaleffort. Llano Teller finished third in that race and went on to win the 2011 All American Derby.

Executive Brass defeated 2011 Two-Year-Old Champion Ochoa and 2011 Two-Year-Old Champion Colt Feature Mr Bojangles in the Grade 1 Ruidoso Derby. Ochoa, winner of the All American Futurity and post-time favorite, finished second to last in a disappointing performance. The result also ended a seven-race win streak for Rainbow Futurity winner Feature Mr Bojangles. Bred in Texas, Executive Brass was the fastest qualifier out of six trials for the race and covered the distance of 400 yards in 20.099.

There is a lesson here – handicapping does not end when the race is over. Stakes races, particularly those with trials, offer a good opportunity to review favorites, fastest qualifiers and winning payoffs. Take a look at race replays (always free at www.qracingvideo.com) and review the charts. Did it play out how you thought, and were there missed wagering opportunities?

In quarter horse stakes, the fastest qualifier often wins, but is not always the post-time favorite. In this year’s Ruidoso Derby, the fastest qualifier won and paid $10.60 to win because the public had more faith in the horses that had proven themselves in the previous year than they did the horse that outran them all in the trials. But the real money can be found when you wheel the fastest qualifier in a vertical or horizontal bet. In the Ruidoso Derby example, keying the fastest qualifier over the field in an exacta would have cost $18, but the exacta paid $696. Another option is to play the stakes race in a double, using the fastest qualifier as the single if the other race seems wide open. Last weekend at Les Bois Park in Boise, Idaho, the fastest qualifier to the Maiden Frolic was only the second favorite choice to the betting public despite winning his trial by two lengths. The preceding race was a thoroughbred race with a five-horse field and a overbet favorite. The longshot won in the thoroughbred race, the fastest qualifier won the Frolic, and a $10 double bet returned $150.

What if there is no clear favorite, or if the fastest qualifier isn’t convincing? Reverse it: single in one leg and play the entire field in the stakes race. This is particularly useful in two-year-old races where there does not appear to be a clear winner; for example, if the fastest qualifier only won by a nose, or if there was a lot of traffic or weather in the trials. Remember that two-year-old races are most prone to trouble or gate problems and a longshot can easily win. The 2011 Ruidoso Derby was won by 11-1 Silver for Me in a wide open field. The Futurity was followed by a straightforward thoroughbred race with a seemingly unbeatable favorite. By keying the favorite in the thoroughbred race and throwing in the entire field in the stakes, your daily double investment would have earned you $152.

Trial and Stakes action continues this weekend at Canterbury, including trials for the 400-yard Canterbury Park Derby on Saturday. As there are only two trials, expect these races to be an excellent preview for the final in two weeks. Sunday afternoon is the 25th running of the Minnesota Stallion Breeders Futurity, open to progeny of nominated stallions who qualified in time trials on June 10th, 2012.

Minnesota Stallion Breeders Futurity, 350 yards, $46,000

Fastest qualifier and runaway winner #10 Hada Certain Charm appears to be impossible to beat in this race. At morning line odds of 6-5, the Ed Ross Hardy-trained Hadtobenuts gelding won by over two lengths and covered the 350 yards in a 24 mph headwind in 18.16, a trial so fast that seven entries of the ten-horse field qualified from the same race. Hada Certain Charm was bred by Leo Butell and is owned by Leo Butell and Mike Schau. Nik Goodwin has the mount and is winning 42% of his starts this meet. #4 Shes Zoomin Whiz was second behind Hada Certain Charm in the trial, and this Zoomin for Bux filly may be the one to challenge him in this race. She earned the second fastest trial time despite stumbling at the start, so a clean break will likely improve her performance. With a 6-5 morning line favorite, a good price can be found on every other horse in the race, so do not let high odds distract from talent. At 20-1, #6 Angel Flyin Knud, owned and trained by Randy Weidner, finished fourth in her trial and earned a 53 speed figure. However, her time of 18.88 was actually faster than that of the winner of the other trial, #8 Fly Eyeann, who won wire to wire in 18.99 and sits on the morning line at only 6-1. If the fastest qualifier is truly the horse to beat, then history has shown us there are some interesting investment options this weekend.

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and will share her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography