BY JIM WELLS
Update: Only 17 racing days left on the 2017 calendar. A mere two weeks of race days and change.
Plenty of time for trainers to begin cleaning out their barns, sending out the horses that need a paycheck to cover their travel costs.
Still time for others to achieve some unreached goals, trainers, owners and riders alike.
The race for leading thoroughbred rider might come down to the final day, so too the quarter horse riding title.
The only certain matter at this point is the thoroughbred conditioners title. Mac Robertson has that award locked down tighter than the treasury vault. The bottom would have to fall out of the earth we stand on for anyone to catch him.
Robertson is 18 wins in front of the second place trainer, Bernell Rhone, and in typical robust fashion responded to a comment thrown his way in the paddock on Saturday.
“Hey, Mac, you’ve taken all the fun of the race this year, all but wrapping it up so early.”
“Hey,” he responded, “I heard nothing but good things when Diodoro was 30 in front (in previous years),” he said.
He was referring to the 2014 and 2015 seasons when Robertino Diodoro ended a nine year string of titles won by Robertson.
“Well, that took the fun out of it, too,” he was told.
“Story after story about Diodoro when he was in front. I have the best time by a two-year-old filly in the country last Sunday and not a word locally but the New York Times calls me.”
Robertson’s diatribe, of course, was based on fake news, his method of letting off steam, of making a point, of sticking the needle in.
The two-year-old filly of note is Amy’s Challenge, by Artie Schiller from Jump Up. She is owned by Novogratz Racing Stables. All sorts of rumors swirled in shed row after she broke her maiden in grand fashion, finishing many lengths in front of seven rivals last Sunday.
“Best horse I’ve had,” said Robertson.
Indeed, the stable area was abuzz with rumors about a filly with one race under her belt, offers approaching or exceeding the million dollar range.
There is additional drama surrounding this two-year-old. Jareth Loveberry, who closed to within two wins of Orlando Mojica in the thoroughbred riders race on Saturday, had planned to leave Canterbury a few days early for other racing obligations. Not if he gets another call aboard this filly, however.
“I couldn’t leave a filly like her,” he said.
Loveberry is riding for the first time at Canterbury this meet, and has exceeded his expectations upon arriving in Shakopee.
“It’s unreal,” he said. “I thought I could come here and win some races. I never expected to be where I am.”
For his part, Mojica says he is not thinking about a title. “I don’t worry about it,” he said. “I don’t want to put pressure on myself. If I win it, I win it. I’m still making money.”
The quarter horse riders’ race might have already been decided. Oscar Delgado has a five-win lead over Brayan Velazquez. And Jason Olmstead, in pursuit of a third-straight training title, is eight in front of Hall of Fame trainer Ed Ross Hardy.
Thomas Scheckel and Dean Frey are tied for the quarter horse owners’ lead with seven wins apiece, two more than Corey Wilmes.
And the always interesting chase for leading thoroughbred owner?
The Curtis Sampson stable is three wins in front of the Lothenbach and Novogratz stables.
It all resumes anew Sunday with a card that features the $50,000 Hoist Her Flag Stakes.