AN AFTERNOON OF SURPRISING WINNERS

Plot Twist
Plot Twist

BY JIM WELLS

A horse named Plot Twist confounded the experts, another called Inconclusive was anything but and a third called Creator, in another surprise, produced a very nice return for his believers in races miles apart on Saturday but immediately juxtaposed nonetheless by the magic of television.

Plot Twist started the proceedings by capturing the $75,000 Dark Star Handicap at 36-1. Inconclusive made the finish quite conclusive in the $75,000 Northbound Pride Oaks, and Creator at 16-1 manufactured a nice return for anyone who backed him in the Belmont Stakes. The first two races were the feature attractions for a crowd of 9,270 at Canterbury Park on Saturday. The third, of course, was simulcast from Belmont Park.

Neither Plot Twist nor his connections had ever been in Minnesota before. Inconclusive hadn’t either but his owner lives here, and Creator got help from a stablemate named Gettysburg, ostensibly in the race to set the pace for Exaggerator, another stablemate who won the Preakness Stakes. Sometimes the best laid plans work out, just not the way expected.

 

$75,000 DARK STAR HANDICAP

 

Could the winner of this race have been any more appropriate?

A horse named Plot Twist doing just that to the legacy of the race’s namesake? In a total plot reversal, the 4-year-old gelding, at 36-1, was a winner that the Darkman would never have wagered on himself?

“Nope, he always bet the chalk,” said any number of individuals who knew the man.

None of that was relevant to the owner and to the trainer of the winner, who have been in Minnesota and at Canterbury Park for the first time in their lives since only last Sunday. Owner Raymond Gross, Jr., and trainer Tina Rodriguez-Guzman have been partners in this business for the past 22 years but had never had a horse run in a stakes race until Sunday.

For them, the first time was the charm.

“I’m still shaking,” Rodriguez-Guzman said 10 minutes after the race.

Winning a first stakes race can do that, particularly when you have never won one before and have no idea what to expect running against unknown quantities as she did on Saturday.

What she did understand, however, was that her horse would be a longshot. “They pretty much always are when I win,” she said.

Gross confirmed the fact and provided a bit of background on the matter by divulging that they had a 99-1 winner nine years ago at Retama Park. The horse’s name? One Evil Eye.

Meanwhile, a bit of background: The Rodriguez-Guzman and Gross stable of four horses arrived at Canterbury Sunday night after a three-day trip from Nacasota, Texas and plan to finish out the meet here as sort of a summer vacation.

A winner’s check of around $45,000 is a nice way to start any vacation,  everyone heartily agreed.

With Erik McNeil in the irons, Plot Twist broke in front of only one horse in the seven-horse field and came five wide into the stretch and made a late bid to catch He’s So Zazzy in the stretch drive and prevail by ¾ length. Diamond Joe was next, another 1 ½ lengths back.

A strong finish produced the win and a return of $75.20 on a $2 win ticket.

$75,000 NORTHBOUND PRIDE OAKS

 

Inconclusive
Inconclusive

 

Sometimes a simple adjustment, a modest change in strategy, can produce a winning result.

Take Inconclusive, owned by Carolyn Friedberg of Minneapolis, who has been stalking the pace further back than she did under Denny Velazquez in this race.

“She’s been running too far back,” said trainer Richie Scherer.

Not this time.

Velazquez kept his mount on the rail never more than two lengths behind the leaders and took her out, three wide, near the upper stretch and began an all-out drive to catch Princess Erindelle by a neck at the wire, another neck in front of Frozen Hannah in third.

“Denny rode a great race,” an elated Scherer said.

Joe Friedberg, summoned to the post-race microphone on behalf of his wife, left fuller explanations on the matter to the trainer.

“I didn’t train the horse or ride the horse,” he said.

Scherer and Velazquez handled those duties. “She’s just been two far back in other races,” Scherer said. “And she’d come huffing and puffing trying to catch up.”

That was not the case on Saturday.

All HAIL THE DARKMAN

The running of the Cup unfailingly produces remembrances of its namesake, Dark Star, whose legacy continues to grow as more stories appear about his sometimes rather unusual behavior. Saturday’s running produced this recollection:

A practical joker and prankster, the Darkman typically was up to no good if you turned your back on him. Walk away from your food plate to place a bet and it sometimes had disappeared upon your return. It might reappear in the most unlikely of places, usually none the worse for the wear but sometimes noticeably depleted from its original state. The frequency of a particular joke never lost its robust humor with Dark even though a victim had long since tired of it.

One time in a truly creative moment, the Darkman came up with a doozy. A handicapper in the press box had informed everyone within earshot not to divulge the winner of the Indianapolis 500 that afternoon if they had been privy to the final results. He had set his VCR to record the event and planned to watch the race later that evening.

To the handicapper’s extreme misfortune, the Darkman was among those within earshot. When the handicapper climbed into his automobile in the parking lot after the races there was a note awaiting him under a windshield wiper. Yes indeed…

That was the Darkman.

Dark Star

Sunday Racing Musings

FuturityOnce the obligations of winning such a race were attended to, once the handshakes, backslaps, hugs and nods of congratulation had been received, the interviews conducted and the rush of adrenaline subsided, there was time for family, close friends and the owners of the horse.

Yes, there are duties concomitant with riding the winning horses in significant races and for a second consecutive year they were assumed by Lori Keith.

In those heady moments of semi-solitude in the jockeys lounge after Saturday’s $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, Keith was on the phone with the owners of Dorsett, who had simply run away from seven rivals as if they were disgraced defensive backs trying to grab the churning legs of the horse’s Dallas Cowboys’ namesake during his prime.

Yes, Dorsett was named for Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett who, you might recall, set an NFL record of 99 yards for the longest run from scrimmage against the Minnesota Vikings on a Monday night in 1983.

In any event, Dorset’s owner and Dallas fan Terry Hamilton was on the phone with Ms Keith after the Derby, having watched the race at home in Canada. Keith was wrapped up in a stunning Star blanket, presented to her by Keith Anderson, vice chairman of the Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Mystic Lake, the sponsors of the race and the Mystic Lake Purse Enhancement program.

Mrs. Hamilton had spotted the blanket on the television screen and fallen in love with it immediately. “Here, my wife wants to talk to you,” said her husband.

Within a matter of moments the two women, Mrs. Hamilton and Ms. Keith conducted their exchange of gifts. Mrs. Hamilton got the blanket. Ms. Keith got the Mystic Lake Derby trophy.

“What, you gave away my trophy,” lamented Mr. Hamilton.

In typical Sioux tradition, Mrs. Hamilton had presented a gift of the trophy to Ms. Keith, who in turn, presented the blanket to Mrs. Hamilton.

Ms. Keith, of course, also talked with her parents, owners of a bistro in the South of France, who watched the race at 12:30 a.m., their time, down the street from the restaurant. Lori imagined her father shooing patrons out of the bistro. “They had to be out by 11,” she said.

“They were happy and proud,” Lori said Sunday. “They were so pleased that I had mentioned them.”

As she does quite often.

The Hamiltons couldn’t have been happier, either. After all, Keith had ridden a Hamilton horse, Hammers Terror, to victory in the first Derby, last year, although she had to withstand a stewards inquiry in that one.

That’s what made Sunday’s victory even more enjoyable. No inquiry. A nice clean trip.

“I beat myself up for weeks after (the 2012 Derby),” Lori said. “So, this one probably was a little more enjoyable.”

Dorsett was simply much the best on Saturday, sweeping past seven rivals as if they were weanlings in the pasture for a three-length win. Vikings defenders clutching at his ankles.

Everyone, rider, owners and trainer, Michael Stidham, were pleased with the win.

“The horse continues to get better, and the rider did a great job,” said Stidham after the race.

Will there be a second encore?

“Well, a lot can happen with a two-year-old,” said Ms. Keith

“Between now and the three-year-old season.” Of course, but if anyone is curious, the two-year-old Hamilton has in mind for next year’s race is Heart to Heart.

By the way, long-suffering fans, the Vikings won that game in spite of Dorsett, 31-27.

Oh, and Hamilton ordered a second trophy – for himself.

CANCHARI TOO BUSY TO CELEBRATE

Luis Canchari and family were standing outside the winner’s circle Sunday afternoon, clearly still pleased with what their son, Alex, accomplished on Saturday.

Alex Canchari, the Minnesota Kid, in the biggest win of his brief career, won the $100,000 Northbound Pride Oaks aboard Stoupinator for trainer Mac Robertson and owner Joseph Novogratz, a head in front of Kipling’s Joy.

There was no time for celebration on Saturday night. “I had to be back at Mac’s barn at 5 a.m.” said Alex.

His family members were clearly delighted with his effort.

Alex’s mother gave him a kiss after the race. His dad was still beaming on Sunday.

“We are proud of him,” said Luis, who rode at Canterbury in the 1980s, having moved to Shakopee from Peru. “It would be nice to see a Minnesota kid win the riding title.”

Alex is doing what he can. He has 35 wins for the second, one behind Ry Eikleberry and six behind Dean Butler, the leaders.

CASH BEGETS MORE CASH

The Reiswigs of Bismarck, N.D. have a fond spot for the two-year-old filly Seis The Royal Cash, a daughter of Royal Cash Dawn.

Mom and daughter were purchased as a package. “We bought the mare in foal,” explained Brenda Reiswig. “We lost the mother a year ago, so this one has had a hard time. She has a special place in our hearts.”

Even more special now.

Seis The Royal Cash was sent off at 16-1 in Sunday’s North Central Quarter Horse Futurity, a bit of a shock to Reiswig. “I thought ‘oh, oh,'” said Reiswig.

All was well nonetheless.

Seis the Royal Cash, with Ismael Suarez Ricardo up, stunned nine rivals, taking the inside path to victory in front of Sportwagon and Engine Number Nine.

Trainer Vic Hanson summed up the victory succinctly.

“We drew well,” he said.

Indeed. The inside has been a boon of late.

“It evened out for a while there,” said Hanson. “Now it’s a little more to the inside, again.”

Nonetheless, Seis The Royal Cash claimed the winner’s share of the $45,050 purse for her connections, paying $35.20, $16.20 and $5.80 across the board.

Hanson handles the Reiswig horses at Canterbury, 20-some in all.

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.

A Little Less Suspense

Dorsett - Mystic Lake Derby - 08-03-13 - R08 - CBY - Action FinishShe took one look over her shoulder, gave her mount a stout reminder with the stick and cruised home, much the best in the biggest race of the season, the history of Canterbury Park for that matter.

Everything unfolded much as it did last season, with one major exception.

“No inquiry,” said the woman of the hour, Lori Keith, who has been aboard the first two winners of the first two Mystic Lake Derbys.

That’s right, the winning owner, winning trainer and winning rider of the inaugural Derby last year, won Saturday’s second running, breaking from the same No. 2 hole in an eight-horse field, just as last year. But for more money,

The race offered $162,000 and change last year. It was worth $200,000 this time around, $120,000 of that to the winning horse.

Gladly missing from Ms. Keith’s point of view was the interminable wait that accompanied last year’s race after her horse veered in front of the second place horse in the final 50 yards.

The stewards decided in her favor, ruling that the infraction did not change the order of finish but gave Ms. Keith days nonetheless for what occurred.

None of that on Saturday.

Keith began moving her horse, Dorsett, heading into the turn behind Coastal Breeze after that one made a bold move. The eventual winner swept past Coastal Breeze as if he were taking a nap. Dorsett cruised into the stretch, passing horses as if he were a Porsche in the fast lane of a freeway.

Much the best.

A bystander asked Keith when she felt the race was hers. “Actually, I felt confident the whole way,” she said. “I had a ton of horse all the way.”

A push-button colt as it were.

“This colt has gotten better and better,” said trainer Michael Stidham. “He’s better as a three-year-old than he was at two. The rider – Lori – did a great job, too.” The owner of the horse, Terry Hamilton, was not present but made it known some time ago that it was his goal to win another Mystic Lake Derby. Consider that goal accomplished.

Dorsett, a son of Artie Schiller from Dontgetnmyway, had three lengths on Coast Breeze and Channing Hill at the wire, 4 and ½ on Impassable Canyon and Victor Lebron, finishing in 1:35.69.

Afterward in the winner’s circle, Keith wrapped up in a stunning hand-made quilt from the Mdewakanton Sioux Community, whose purse contributions at Canterbury included $150,000 for this race alone.

The Star quilt is a traditional Dakota blanket that symbolizes life, spirituality and community and is given to mark major milestones.

Dorsett - Mystic Lake Derby - 08-03-13 - R08 - CBY - Pres2

This was indeed a milestone, for Canterbury, its relationship with Mystic Lake, for Hamilton, Stidham and, of course, for Ms. Keith.

$100,000 SHAKOPEE JUVENILE

The focus in this one was on a two-year-old named Chairman Crooks, ridden by Dean Butler, trained by tony Rengstorf and owned by Curtis Sampson.

The horse was named to honor the late Stanley Crooks, Chairman of the Mdewakanton Sioux Community at Mystic Lake with a nod also to his father, Norman, the tribe’s first chairman.

Several dignitaries from the community were present for the race, and they saw a good showing by the horse named for their former leaders. Chairman Crooks acquitted himself nicely, finishing second to the 3/5 favorite General Jack, a ship-in from Belmont Park, whose stretch effort provided a three-length win.

General Jack, a son of Giant’s Causeway, was much the best in this one. “We wanted the lead but when that horse took it we let him have it,” said winning rider Victor Lebron. “We went to plan B. I relaxed my horse and he finished strongly.”

The winner finished second in his only other start, at Belmont Park. So he broke his maiden in $100,000 race.

Owner Tom Conway knew he had a good one after General Jack hung on to finish second in New York. “He hit the gate and got bumped three or four times during the race,” Conway said. “He had the lead, got bumped and fell back.”

Nothing of the kind on Saturday.

General Jack surged through the stretch to a three-length win over Chairman Crooks, 4 and ¼ in front of AP is Loose and Ms Keith, with a winning time of 1:29.70.

$100,000 NORTHBOUND PRIDE OAKS

What a race!

Drama, excitement, suspense, investigations.

When it was done, Alex Canchari, the Minnesota Kid, had the biggest win of his young career aboard Stoupinator, owned by Joseph Novogratz of Excelsior and trained by Mac Robertson.

“That was a great ride,” said Robertson assistant Bradley Hedges. “That kid has a nice set of hands. He can ride.”

When the hullabaloo was complete, Stoupinator was the winner by a head over Seeking Treasure who was a head in front of Kipling’s Joy and Raising Dakota who finished in a Dead Heat.

A massive investigation by the stewards, paralleled perhaps only by the Watergate investigation, changed the official order, however.

Thus, Stoupinator did no wrong and kept the win. However, Seeking Treasure, was disqualified from second and placed sixth for interference, meaning that Kipling’s Joy and Raising Dakota moved up from third and dead-heated for second and I’m Already Sexy finished fourth.

The race also included a bit of drama before it started. Jockey Luis Garcia, on Raising Dakota, had not signed his license application with the Minnesota Racing Commission and was called up in front of the grandstand.

A racing official arrived with the document. Garcia jumped off his horse and signed his name, remounted and – as mentioned – wound up running second.

This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.

Mystic Lake Derby Day Nears

MysticDerby_LogoGo ahead and pick up the champagne, dig out the attire you wore last year for the race, careful to assure everything is the same, not a single accoutrement out-of-place, cross your fingers and don’t say anything that might be construed as a jinx.

“My dad’s superstitious,” said Lori Keith. “It will have to be the same shirt, everything.”

The topic at hand is the second running of the Mystic Lake Derby on Saturday and the preparations of Mr and Mrs. Keith – William and Philomena (or Bill and Phil as they’re known) – for Saturday’s race.

For the uniformed, Lori Keith, a native of England and a regular rider at Canterbury Park, won the first running of the biggest race in Canterbury Park history last year aboard Hammers Terror, owned by Terry Hamilton and trained by Michael Stidham.

Bill asked his daughter in a recent conversation whether she would ride in the race again this year. When she informed him that the chances appeared good, he began making plans. “He wanted to know if he should get the champagne,” Lori said.

Keith’s parents, who own a restaurant in the South of France, watched the inaugural running down the street from the restaurant, at an acquaintance’s home. Good viewing, just a matter of connecting the laptop to the telly, as they say, and they saw their daughter win the biggest race of her career.

They plan on looking in again on Saturday.

Keith will ride a horse named Dorsett, owned once again by Hamilton and trained once again by Stidham. And, get this, she is breaking from the No. 2 hole in an eight-horse field, just as last year.

A year ago, Keith took the morning line second choice to the winner’s circle after surviving a stewards’ inquiry for interference in the stretch. This time she is on the 5/2 morning line favorite.

“I think he has a great shot,” she said. “On paper he looks very good, but I think it will be a very competitive race.”

Dorsett, a son of Artie Schiller from Dontgetnmyway, has two wins, a second and a third from eight career starts with earnings of $74,670. He is part of a field of eight that will engage at one mile on the turf.

$200,000 Mystic Lake Derby Field & Morning Line
PP Horse Trainer Jockey ML
1    Impassable Canyon Michael Maker Victor Lebron 5-1
2 Dorsett Michael Stidham Lori Keith 5/2
3 Finding Candy Michael Biehler Denny Velazquez 12-1
4 Coastal Breeze Wayne Catalano Channing Hill 4-1
5 Kale’s Kourage Kelly Von Hemel Ry Eikleberry 10-1
6 Evan’s Calling Neil Pessin Eddie Martin Jr. 8-1
7 Red Zeus Dan McFarlane Alex Canchari 6-1
8 Officer Alex Lynn Whiting Leandro Goncalves 9/2

Last year the purse was for a guaranteed $150,000 and produced a total of $162,000 and change after adding in the entry fees. This year the race offers a guaranteed $200,000. The lion’s share of that funding, $150,000, is provided by the Mystic Lake purse enhancement fund.

The inside post was drawn by Impassable Canyon, a colt by Tapit from Anna Forever, owned by F. Thomas Conway and trained by Mike Maker.

Finding Candy will line up in the No. 3 hole. He is a colt by Candy Ride, owned locally by Al and Bill Ulwelling and trained by Mike Biehler.

The No. 4 hole will go to Coastal Breeze, a colt by Empire Maker that is owned by Barry Golden and trained by Wayne Catalano. The No. 5 hole belongs to Kale’s Kourage who has earned $85,511 lifetime and has won three of his seven career starts. He is owned by Pam Von Hemel and trained by Kelly Von Hemel.

Lining up in the No. 6 spot will be Evan’s Calling, with one win in 11 career starts. The No. 7 belongs to Red Zeus, who has earned $112, 426, running primarily at Turf Paradise in Phoenix with two starts locally, including a win at six furlongs his last out. He is owned by Peggy Hopwood and trained by Dan McFarlane.

Officer Alex drew the outside post. He has earned $163,000 running on the circuit between Churchill Downs and Oaklawn Park. He is trained by Lynn Whiting, who saddled Lil E. Tee, the winner of the 1992 Kentucky Derby.

So, there you have it, the lineup for the richest race in Canterbury Park history, a whopping $200,000 guaranteed and an opportunity for Lori Keith to top last year’s take.

“Oh, I can’t believe it,” she said. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”

Is superstition a genetic trait?

SHAKOPEE JUVENILE AND NORTHBOUND PRIDE OAKS

Both races offer $100,000-guaranteed purses.

The Oaks at a mile on the turf has been run in some form, fashion or name since 1985 and was won in 2012 by Soonerette, ridden by riding champion Tanner Riggs for Donnie Von Hemel.

$100,000 Northbound Pride Oaks & Morning Line Odds
PP Horse Trainer Jockey ML
1    Eden Prairie Neil Pessin Channing Hill 3-1
2 Kipling’s Joy Michael Stidham Dean Butler 9/2
3 Stoupinator Mac Robertson Alex Canchari 5-1
4 I’m Already Sexy Wayne Catalano Scott Stevens 4-1
5 Seeking Treasure Larry Dunbar Ry Eikleberry 10-1
6 Raising Dakota Tevis McCauley Luis Garcia 8-1
7 Kissmeimdanish Valorie Lund Derek Bell 8-1
8 American Sugar Kenneth McPeek Victor Lebron 6-1

Saturday’s edition has a field of eight, including the Ken McPeek-trained American Sugar, who is trying the grass for the first time and is 5-0-3 from 13 starts with earnings of more than $200,000. Robert Lothenbach’s Eden Prairie is 2-0-1 from six grass starts and earnings of $70,000-plus. Michael Stidham’s Kipling’s Joy is 2-0-3 from nine career starts, both wins on the grass, with earnings of $62,200.

I’m Already Sexy arrived from Arlington Park and has won twice from three turf starts, is three-for-six overall, and earned $81,141. Wayne Catalano trains. Locally-owned Stoupinator, trained by Mac Robertson, has hit the board three times in three turf starts and is 2-1-2 overall from six career starts with earnings of $76,000. Here’s a look at the field:

The Juvenile, for colts/geldings and fillies, is being run for the first time, at 7 and 1/2 furlongs on the turf and has attracted a field of nine boys.

$100,000 Shakopee Juvenile Field & Morning Line Odds
PP Horse Trainer Jockey ML
1    A P Is Loose Michael Biehler Lori Keith 6-1
2 Aft Michael Lauer Leandro Goncalves 8-1
3 Rumbauer David Van Winkle Ry Eikleberry 6-1
4 My Corinthian Dane Kobiskie Luis Garcia 7/2
5 Fling Orrin Cogburn Eddie Martin Jr. 12-1
6 Clarisimo Sandra Sweere Nik Goodwin 10-1
7 General Jack Michael Maker Victor Lebron 3-1
8 Chairman Crooks Tony Rengstorf Dean Butler 6-1
9 Pure Surprize Vic Hanson Jenna Joubert 10-1

Among those is a 2-year-old colt named General Jack, a Kentucky-bred son of Giant’s Causeway who is looking to break his maiden on Saturday after running second among maiden special weights for $70,000 at Belmont Park.

He had a bullet work in late June and is trained by Mike Maker who has made a habit of winning big races at Canterbury.

Aft, trained by Michael Lauer, broke his maiden last time out in Indiana. Lauer tried to run Aft on the lead his first out and finished second. He ran him off the pace in his second start with improved results.

My Corinthian has hit the board three times in three career starts and was the first of the shippers to arrive, stabling here on Monday. He is trained by Dane Kobiskie. He is 1-1-1 from three career starts and is 1-1-0 from two outs on the grass.

Mike Biehler will saddle A P Is Loose, who ran third in his first start, at Canterbury on July 11. Clarisimo, trained by Sandra Sweere, is another local horse who broke his maiden here on June 16. Dave Van Winkle will saddle locally stabled Rumbauer, who broke his maiden under Ry Eikleberry on July 11 in his second start.

Vic Hanson will send out Pure Surprize, a local juvenile who broke his maiden at first asking on July 14. Fling, trained by Orrin Cogburn, did not hit the board in two previous starts.

Curtis Sampson’s Chairman Crooks, named for the late leader of the Mdewakanton Community, is trying the grass for the first time. He broke his maiden first time out, on June 13.

Wagering Opportunities Abound

The three races will be run as races 6, 7 and 8 on the card with the Oaks leading off, followed by the Juvenile and then the 2nd running of the Mystic Lake Derby. Post times are 4:10 CDT, 4:40 CDT and the Mystic Lake Derby will go off at 5:12 CDT. The three races anchor Saturday’s late pick 4 which continues to feature a 14% takeout, among the lowest in the country. Additionally, the three stakes comprise an all-turf Pick 3 also featuring the same low takeout rate of 14%.

Check back here often to learn more about the participants for Saturday’s big races over the coming days.

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.

2013 Derby Day Nears

HAMMERS TERROR_The Mystic Lake Derby_07-28-12_CBY_Inside FinishOccasionally she’ll think about the race and the biggest win of her career, the stuff of warm feelings and pleasant thoughts, except for that interminable wait.

“It was intense, wasn’t it though,” says Lori Keith.

The subject at hand, of course, is the inaugural Mystic Lake Derby first held in 2012 and Keith’s controversial win aboard Hammers Terror. About half the grandstand thought the horse should have been taken down. The other half sided with Keith’s horse.

So did the Stewards, who ruled that Hammer Terror did in fact veer in front of Delegation in the final yards but the action did not change the outcome of the race in their view. Nonetheless they gave Keith days, even after she sweated out the decision on the race for what seemed like an eternity.

Keith talked about the race as she headed to the paddock on Sunday for the third race, which she won aboard Francisco Bravo’s Free Sailing.

She is hopeful of riding in the second Mystic Lake Derby next Saturday, for the same owner whose horse she rode last year.

“Things can change,” she said, “but there’s a good chance .” She referred to a three-year old colt named Dorsett, owned by Terry Hamilton and trained by Michael Stidham, who have the same connections as Hammers Terror, the 2012 champ.

Hamilton has talked about how great it would be to win the first two Mystic Lake Derbys. He has to run a horse for that to happen, of course.

The $200,000 Derby will be run on the same card with the $100,000 Northbound Pride Oaks and the $100,000 Shakopee Juvenile Stakes. All three to be run over the Canterbury turf course.

Questions about the second rendition of the Mystic Lake Derby abound at this point:

Will Dorsett indeed run and will the field include a Java’s War, a longshot who finished 13th in this year’s Kentucky Derby and, although nominated to the Derby, is a longshot to appear in next Saturday’s race?

Undrafted, owned by New England Patriots defector and current Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker, has been nominated also.

Other nominees include Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey’s You Blue and Leaden In Ken, along with Bill and Al Ulwelling’s Finding Candy. In total, nearly 100 horses were nominated for the trifecta of grass races next Saturday.

The draw is scheduled on Wednesday for all three races.

My Corinthian, trained by Dan Kobiskie and scheduled to arrive Monday, will run in the Juvenile and will be the first horse on the grounds for Saturday’s stakes events.

The Shakopee Juvenile, at 7 and 1/2 furlongs on the turf, will be run for the first time. The Oaks, at a mile on the turf, was won last year by Soonerette, owned by Robert Zoellner, ridden by riding champ Tanner Riggs and trained by Donnie Von Hemel. The purse this year is $100,000, for the first time since 1995, when the Carl Nafzger-trained Fluffkins won. Von Hemel nominated no horses to the Oaks but has nominated Smack Smack, owned by Dream Walkin’ Farms, Inc. (the stable name of renowned country music singer Toby Keith) to the Juvenile.

CANCHARI SURGES IN JOCKEY STANDINGS

Alex Canchari, the Minnesota Kid as he refers to himself, surged this week into second place in the rider standings, riding seven winners to wind up Sunday night with 31 winners for the meet.

That’s eight behind the leader, Dean Butler, a three-time champion. Ry Eikleberry had only one winner for the week and slipped into third place with 30 wins, followed by Lori Keith with 29 and Hall of Fame rider Derek Bell and Eddie Martin, Jr. at 25 wins each. Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens is next with 23 wins.

There was no change in positions among the track’s top trainers. Mike Biehler continues in front with 24 wins, followed by Bernell Rhone with 22 and Mac Robertson with 21.

Stormy Smith, who rode the winner of the Bob Morehouse Stakes, Western Fun, on Saturday, continues to lead the quarter horse riders. He has 16 wins. Jorge Torres is next with 14.

SUNDAY HAPPENINGS

You Be Gator Bait, trained by Mac Robertson, is nominated but won’t run in the Shakopee Juvenile, not with a mere week’s rest. He won the opening race on Sunday’s card for Minnesota-bred maidens with Chris Fackler up. “He’s a hard worker,” Robertson said of the winning rider. The most likely spot to see the Minnesota-bred next will be on the 2013 Festival of Champions card in the Northern Lights Futurity.

Martin Escobar was the only double winner among the riders Sunday, with Hard Cider in the sixth and Scorsese in the seventh, his 10th and 11th winners of the meet.

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.

Western Fun Takes Morehouse

Western%20Fun%20-%20The%20Bob%20Morehouse%20Stakes%20-%2007-27-13%20-%20R09%20-%20CBY%20-%20FinishAn appropriate win for an aptly named racehorse in Saturday’s feature event, the $23,200 Bob Morehouse Stakes. Morehouse, a Minnesotan with a Western heart and the experience to go with it, gave quarter horse racing a big jump start in Minnesota, and a horse named Western Fun won the race named in his honor.

With Stormy Smith up, Western Fun broke smartly but then became enthralled with the beer fest taking place in Shire’s Square and started stopping.

“Cody’s horse (Tres My Tracks) was really coming on and my horse was looking at the tents,” said Smith, referring to Cody Smith. “She got going again just enough to hold him off.”

Western Fun had a half length on Tres My Tracks, who finished in front of Streak N Hot and Teller IM Out.

The winner, clocked in 20.55 over the 400-yard course, is owned by Hall of Famer breeders Bob and Julie Petersen.

Western Fun is a four-year-old filly by Tres Seis from Southern Fun and is 6-5-2 from 21 career starts.

A homebred, she had earned just short of $50,000 prior to Saturday’s feature event.

“We had four babies from that blind mare that passed away,” said Bob Petersen. “They were all winners and three of them won stakes.”

That includes Western Fun, who won the Minnesota Derby last year.

Morehouse, a wrangler and stunt man in a number of early westerns, played a prominent part in the state’s quarter horse racing and breeding industries. His stallions produced the winners of 10 of the first 13 runnings of the Northlands Futurity. His Rafter M. Ranch outside Watertown remains in the family although it’s intent today is geared by two of his daughters, Becky Boll and Terry Hintze, toward raising horses for barrel racing instead of quarter horse racing.

It seems reasonable to assume he would be proud of the operation nonetheless, given his attraction to many things Western.

He not only worked on several films made by John Ford and John Huston, he rubbed elbows with some of the greats of Hollywood Western history, John Wayne, Jimmy Cagney and Audie Murphy among them.

The influence of the West was evident in everything Morehouse did, his artwork, sculptures and whittling. He also wrote and sang a number of Western songs.

His daughter, Bobbi, presented the trophy to the Petersens Saturday. In attendance as well were daughters Holly and Jody and granddaughters Gabrielle and Gianna.

Petersen was acquainted with Bob Morehouse, who passed away in 1988. “He started things here,” Peterson said. “He really got it going.”

So did Western Fun Saturday, just in time.

BASHFORD MANOR RING A BELL?

Horses will begin arriving Monday for the premiere stakes events of the season scheduled next Saturday.

Well, okay, one horse anyway, and his biggest race to date will remind long-time Canterbury fans of a Hall of Fame horse from the track’s early days.

My Corinthian, trained by Dane Kobiskie, will arrive from Laurel Park for the $100,000 Shakopee Stakes, being run the same day as the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby and the $100,000 Northbound Pride Oaks.

My Corinthian placed third in the Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs, a race won in 1987 by Blair’s Cove, a Canterbury Park Hall of Fame horse for whom a stakes race is run each year in Shakopee.

Trained and owned by Noel Hickey, Blair’s Cove won the Bashford Manor before it was graded. He became one of the early stars at Canterbury Downs.

Stable superintendent Mark Stancato says the early arrival of My Corinthian caught him off guard.

“I’m not used to getting a call a week in advance,” he said. “They are coming on Monday for a race they haven’t entered.”

My Corinthian broke his maiden for fun and placed second in a third start.

SERVICES SET FOR ELERY SCHERBENSKE

Funeral services will be held for Elery Scherbenske, 85, next Friday in his hometown of Ashley, N.D.

Scherbenske started training in 1948 and had horses at Canterbury Downs and Park off and on since 1985.

He owned the livestock sale barn in Ashley and frequently had horses at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg.

“He trained until he was 80 years old. He had a good life,” said his son Percy, who has had a stable at Canterbury since 1985.

Percy said he has talked with the racing office and a memorial race will be worked on for later in the meeting.

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.

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