Kelsi Harr Says Goodbye To The Bug

Kelsi Harr‘s first mount was her first win. It came at Canterbury Park on June 17, 2018 aboard Bandit Point. It was Father’s Day. “It was a very special moment,” Harr said then. “My dad was here cheering me on and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to kick off my riding career.” It

Bandit Point

was her father that gave Harr her first horse when she was five. That sparked a passion that lead from pleasure riding to barrel racing and eventually to a profession as a racehorse jockey.

She’s come a long way since that summer afternoon and last Thursday earned her 40th win which meant losing her ‘bug’, her apprentice rider weight allowance.

Harr greeted by fellow riders following first win in 2018.

Harr started slowly in 2018, learning the tricks of the trade. “When I first started I wanted to ride horses I rode in the morning,” she said. “I wanted to get comfortable and get my feet wet.” She rode mainly for her boyfriend Robert Cline at Canterbury. Nine mounts, two wins and in the money another three.

In 2019, she began the year in her home state of Arkansas at Oaklawn Park and continued at Canterbury with 154 mounts in all. Same schedule this year but with many more mounts, 285 thus far. At Oaklawn, a very competitive meet where top jockeys from around the country converge, she got an agent. “That helped me get into barns I would not have otherwise,” she said. Barns like those of Larry Jones and D. Wayne Lukas.  She also credits access and success to hard work and “being there every day”.

She’s enjoyed what she’s earned. Riding in stakes races, and riding well.  Highlights? “Getting to ride for bigger barns, earning their respect,” she said.  Goals? “I’ve won two in one day. I’m looking for a triple.”

Harr’s become a student of the game, watching and learning from other riders.” All the jocks here and at Oaklawn have been helpful.”  They provide constructive criticism while she watches and learns continually. “Some I watch and wonder how they do that,” she said, which causes her to work harder at her craft each day.

Harr has become a respected rider and a fan favorite with the trademark ponytail flowing from the back of her helmet and her affability with race fans, especially the young ones. This is a demanding sport. Athletically for sure but mentally as well, when meeting the expectations of owners, trainers and bettors is at times unrealistic.  She tries “not take everything to heart. I like people to like me.  You try to do the best you can by everybody.  I try to ride my race.”

She must also balance her career with her responsibilities of being the mother of an 8-year-old daughter who spent the summer in Shakopee. The third grader recently returned home to begin school, and Harr is grateful for the help of her mother and friends while she remains away, acknowledging that it would be very difficult without that assistance. Parenting in the COVID-19 pandemic has become even more challenging. Harr recalls early spring at Oaklawn when schools were suddenly closed. “I was getting on horses in the morning and running back to the tack room to make sure [my daughter] gets on Zoom.”

Harr begins serving a three-day suspension Monday for a careless riding infraction, returning to the saddle Thursday. She’ll have to shrug that off, maybe accept what one rider told her –   ‘If you haven’t gotten a set of days you haven’t started riding yet’ – because it is clear from the progress in her career that Kelsi Harr indeed has started riding.

Nebraskans Reunite in MN

Chris%20Fackler%207-18-13Centura High School is located in rural central Nebraska on the banks of the Loup River and draws its students from Boleus, Dannebrog and Cairo, where it is located.

A recent count put the enrollment for grades 7 through 12 at 250 students, so it is not a large school by any means. So, what are the chances that three of its graduates would wind up at Canterbury Park this summer?

That’s precisely what happened when jockey Chris Fackler decided to drop his tack here for the 2013 meet. Fackler, 23, had never raced in Shakopee before but is now here with two other alumni of Centura – Mark and Chad Anderson, former riders themselves now employed in other aspects of racing.

At one time, Fackler was the toast of Grand Island and Lincoln, where he was known as the Boleus Bombshell while tearing up those tracks, especially during his bug days.

“I never ventured too far from home,” Fackler said.

He had been to Canterbury Park twice before, for about an hour each time. “I visited a friend here in 2009 I think it was,” he said. “And another time I was here to drop off some horses.”

Fackler began riding at age 17 and rode his first winner, a horse named Rahy Royal, at Lincoln in July of 2007.

He had galloped horses for about a month in Fort Piere, S.D., before getting his first mounts there. “It’s a small track and they don’t require much,” he said. “It’s a small track in a small town. They just don’t want riders to fall off and get hurt.”

Fackler has ridden at the Nebraska tracks as well as Beulah Park in Ohio, Remington Park in Oklahoma and in Indiana some, too.

He made the decision to give Canterbury Park a try after working for Mac Robertson in Hot Springs, Ark., last winter. “I found out he was from Nebraska too,” Fackler said. “They cut purses and days a bunch in Nebraska, so I figured I’d follow him to Minnesota.”

The initial meeting with Robertson did not go quite as planned.

“A buddy of mine from Beulah was working for Mac and invited me over,” Fackler said. A debate ensued when Fackler arrived bundled up and looking 25 pounds heavier than his actual weight. “It was cold,” he said.”I had a lot of clothes on and Mac thought I was too big to ride.”

The issue was straightened out and Fackler wound up working horses for the Robertson barn. “It was a big transition from Nebraska, where the horses are not the quality of those Mac had,” said Fackler. “With him the horses come first, and that’s the way it should be.”

Fackler’s interest in racing started young. “I was probably in diapers when I got on my first horse,” he said. His father rode horses years ago and later did some training, yet his friends always thought Chris would outgrow the chance to ride.

“They never thought I’d stay small enough,” said Fackler, who is 5-6 and generally weighs between 106 and 115 pounds.

Fackler arrived in Minnesota with around 500 wins for his career and anxious to make connections with local barns. He has scrounged up only a handful of mounts, however, primarily from the Robertson barn.

Nonetheless, he likes what he’s seen so far of the track in Shakopee.

“I like it,” he said. “These are some of the best crowds I’ve seen. They don’t get crowds like these at Remington and Oaklawn except on special days. The pools aren’t all that big, though, for the size of the crowds.”

Another aspect of Minnesota nice has also caught Fackler’s attention.

“Everybody here seems to love the horsemen. You go out to restaurants, or just people in general, when they find out you’re in racing they give you a lot of respect.”

Fackler is aware that the Anderson brothers, Mark and Chad, are in Shakopee, too. Chad is an agent for Hall of Fame riders Scott Stevens and Derek Bell. Mark is the track clocker and a placing judge. Fackler has a passing acquaintance with the brothers, although there is one other connection. “They’re older than I am,” he said. “But my sister does have a picture of me as a baby and one of them is holding me.”

A small Nebraska world shrunk even more in Shakopee this summer.

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.

Pace Makes the Race?

Canterbury ActionI know it’s not a flashy grade one or a Triple Crown race, but the fifth event on Saturday’s Canterbury card is one that caught my attention with the cast assembled – and I think all betting prospects should be live despite the field’s size.

Most of the field hails from the Southwest, making their last starts either at Turf Paradise or Sunland Park. The unknown in this is… who will get the lead? With the exception of #3 Fraudulentfootnote, each filly made her last appearance in the winners’ circle after wiring a field.

That could be the simplest answer of them all – Bell on a closer? Check please! However, this filly has the most starts next to that one win, whereas the others meeting that condition (N2L) aren’t quite there yet. She was pretty hard-ridden in her maiden breaking effort last time throughout, although to a degree she had to be to keep her position from the far outside post. Again, she has plenty of losses to go with that one gutsy win.

So, if you’re not on that bandwagon which one of the speedsters breaks away? Visually #6 Key Affair couldn’t have looked better in her only lifetime experience, but that maiden breaker was significantly lower in price and size than the rest have been competing against lately. She really was not asked throughout, and the margin certainly could have been larger had the pilot not starting yawning halfway through.

She got quite the opposite journey of Midwest Runner #2 Ladyofthelilly’s last time around, whose introduction to Prairie Meadows was brutal at best. It didn’t appear that she was the only filly to get hot as the field loaded on May 10th, but she took all the worst of it out of the gate and didn’t appear interested after that. While Birzer tried his best to get her involved, the game plan was quickly foiled by her post and the torrid pace in front of her. Her race at Oaklawn may be the exception rather than the rule, but man was it dominant. She got a bit of a breather between her first and second quarters though, and that doesn’t look likely in here.

The rail filly #1 Objection should make sure of that, as well as #4 Pink Leninade. I can’t say much about Pink Leninade, as I got a healthy dose of her this spring and she’s kind of a one trick pony too. Give her the lead or give her death. She drew right in the middle of this one and that may not be where any of them want to end up.

#5 A J Tango doesn’t like to be too far behind either, and got caught in a couple of nasty speed duels this winter after being claimed by Valerie Lund. Even if the second time starter on the outside doesn’t show the same dazzling pace that she did in her first start these three are more than capable of cooking the likely favorite.

Objection in particular looks like she’s a filly in progress, but the talent is there and her efforts stack up with the rest of the field with the exception of speed figures. Despite the fast times at Turf Paradise the numbers generally don’t back them up due to the surface, but this runner made easy work of a short field at odds on last time. Notice in her first maiden effort that she was for sale and last time when actually breaking her maiden she was not… she’s not the prettiest of movers either but should she break the way she did last time she could take the heart out of a lot of this group. She was supposed to be a good one from a young age, as she was sold at Ocala for $37,000 two years ago. Obviously a two year old that works out quick and then doesn’t debut until she’s four is not all that she appears, but it looks as though the pieces are coming together and the price should be right.

Good luck on Saturday and for the entirety of your Holiday Weekend!

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann serves as the Track Analyst for Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero, Illinois and the summer of 2013 will mark her third year in a similar capacity at Canterbury Park.

Pace Makes the Race?

Canterbury ActionI know it’s not a flashy grade one or a Triple Crown race, but the fifth event on Saturday’s Canterbury card is one that caught my attention with the cast assembled – and I think all betting prospects should be live despite the field’s size.

Most of the field hails from the Southwest, making their last starts either at Turf Paradise or Sunland Park. The unknown in this is… who will get the lead? With the exception of #3 Fraudulentfootnote, each filly made her last appearance in the winners’ circle after wiring a field.

That could be the simplest answer of them all – Bell on a closer? Check please! However, this filly has the most starts next to that one win, whereas the others meeting that condition (N2L) aren’t quite there yet. She was pretty hard-ridden in her maiden breaking effort last time throughout, although to a degree she had to be to keep her position from the far outside post. Again, she has plenty of losses to go with that one gutsy win.

So, if you’re not on that bandwagon which one of the speedsters breaks away? Visually #6 Key Affair couldn’t have looked better in her only lifetime experience, but that maiden breaker was significantly lower in price and size than the rest have been competing against lately. She really was not asked throughout, and the margin certainly could have been larger had the pilot not starting yawning halfway through.

She got quite the opposite journey of Midwest Runner #2 Ladyofthelilly’s last time around, whose introduction to Prairie Meadows was brutal at best. It didn’t appear that she was the only filly to get hot as the field loaded on May 10th, but she took all the worst of it out of the gate and didn’t appear interested after that. While Birzer tried his best to get her involved, the game plan was quickly foiled by her post and the torrid pace in front of her. Her race at Oaklawn may be the exception rather than the rule, but man was it dominant. She got a bit of a breather between her first and second quarters though, and that doesn’t look likely in here.

The rail filly #1 Objection should make sure of that, as well as #4 Pink Leninade. I can’t say much about Pink Leninade, as I got a healthy dose of her this spring and she’s kind of a one trick pony too. Give her the lead or give her death. She drew right in the middle of this one and that may not be where any of them want to end up.

#5 A J Tango doesn’t like to be too far behind either, and got caught in a couple of nasty speed duels this winter after being claimed by Valerie Lund. Even if the second time starter on the outside doesn’t show the same dazzling pace that she did in her first start these three are more than capable of cooking the likely favorite.

Objection in particular looks like she’s a filly in progress, but the talent is there and her efforts stack up with the rest of the field with the exception of speed figures. Despite the fast times at Turf Paradise the numbers generally don’t back them up due to the surface, but this runner made easy work of a short field at odds on last time. Notice in her first maiden effort that she was for sale and last time when actually breaking her maiden she was not… she’s not the prettiest of movers either but should she break the way she did last time she could take the heart out of a lot of this group. She was supposed to be a good one from a young age, as she was sold at Ocala for $37,000 two years ago. Obviously a two year old that works out quick and then doesn’t debut until she’s four is not all that she appears, but it looks as though the pieces are coming together and the price should be right.

Good luck on Saturday and for the entirety of your Holiday Weekend!

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann serves as the Track Analyst for Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero, Illinois and the summer of 2013 will mark her third year in a similar capacity at Canterbury Park.