The Prairie Meadows quarter horse meet closes this week with racing Thursday through Saturday.
The Friday card features four stakes races and Saturday’s evening program has nine including the Grade 1 Bank of America Challenge Championship with a $330,000 purse.
Many of the stakes include horses that raced in Shakopee over the summer. The Grade 3 Two Rivers Stakes on Friday has a pair: Ferrari James and Bye Byefreighttrain. The former has won nine of 18 lifetime starts but was beaten by the latter when they met here in July. Ferrari James turned the tables on Bye Byefreighttrain when they faced off in Iowa in the Grade 3 Keokuk at Prairie. Canterbury’s meet leading Q rider Oscar Delgado has the mount on Ferrari James.
Saturday’s slate includes:
$110,132 Polk County Derby – fastest qualifier Cr Game Changer for trainer Jason Olmstead will be ridden by Brayan Velazquez
$174,400 Jim Bader Futurity – fastest qualifier Cr Lota Girl trained by Jason Olmstead drew post 10.
$145,604 Altoona Derby – second fastest qualifier La Mos Pyc trained by Bill Harris and ridden by Stormy Smith. The 3-year-old won three times at Canterbury including the Gopher State Derby.
$289,830 Valley Junction Futurity – fastest qualifier A Jordon Reed, winner of the $167,600 Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity, trained by Ed Ross Hardy and ridden by Oscar Delgado, has drawn the rail.
$180,000 Adequan Derby (G3) – includes Faster Than Hasta, trained by Bob Johnson. Multiple stakes winning gelding raced at Canterbury this season and last. Kowboy Jim, winner of all three 2017 CBY starts including the Canterbury Park Derby, is trained by Dean Frey with Delgado aboard.
$130,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) – High Valley Girl made the cut for trainer Bob Johnson.
$105,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) – Minnesota bred Blacks Cartel won the Cash Caravan Stakes. Jr Rock Star won the Canterbury Distaff Challenge. The 4-year-old filly is trained by Olmstead.
$330,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) – The Fiscal Cliff was voted Canterbury’s Quarter Horse of the Meet after winning both the Zimmerman Stakes and the BOA Championship Challenge. He is 8 to 1 in the biggest race of the night.
Thursday’s program may not have the stakes sizzle but there are Canterbury horses to be found including Jjsir James who was the fastest qualifier here for the NCQHRA Futurity and suffered a less than perfect trip in the final. He qualified for an Iowa futurity despite a terrible trip and then stumbled from the gate in the final. Thursday he faces a much easier field and is 6 to 1 on the morning line.
Curls Happy Wagon drew the rail in race 7. While she never raced in Shakopee her dam, Eye a Spit Curl Girl, did. The multiple graded stakes winning mare won the Zimmerman Stakes here in 2015. Curls Happy Wagon dominated in her career debut Sept. 23 at Prairie and could be something special. She is 7 to 2 on the line Thursday.
It has been proposed once before and this additional suggestion is not based on settled science but on mounting evidence: Canterbury should consider running a 67-day meet featuring ostrich, zebra and camel racing each year, mixing in a thoroughbred/quarter horse day here and there.
Evidence suggests that would reverse what is now occurring: Solid attendance for horse racing and stupendous attendance whenever the wild beasts run.
Just imagine, sizeable crowds to watch the critters of the desert sands and average attendance of 16,000 to say 21,000 for horse racing. Canterbury Park would become the envy of the racing world. The brain trusts at Santa Anita, Churchill Downs and Belmont would be forced to bow down to an enterprise in existence only since 1985.
“Hey, did you see what they drew at Canterbury on Friday,” someone would say in a California or New York racing boardroom. “They ran thoroughbreds and quarter horses there yesterday and had a crowd of 29,000.”
“Yeah,” someone would say, “but what was the per capita?”
“Never mind the per cap,” someone would reply. “They sold 33,000 hot dogs, the same number of pizza slices and several hundred gallons of Pepsi products, not to mention 300 barrels of beer.”
Per capita spending on wagering alone, say 50 bucks, would rise to $450 when concessions are added.
Granted, such a shift to extreme day racing on a full-time basis could not be made without possible pitfalls, but right now, based on what happened at Canterbury Park on Saturday (a crowd of 13,315) and in years past, this latest proposal seems sound.
The perfect name for the 2017 rendition of Extreme Day, as it is known, should actually be Nik Goodwin day, based on how he kicked off Saturday’s proceedings.
Goodwin, you might recall, celebrated the 1,000th thoroughbred winner of his career recently. Saturday, he became the all time leader in quarter horse winners at Canterbury, riding Lota James in the Dash in a Flash Stakes, an Extreme Day 110 yard sprint. That gave him 108 overall, one more than Ry Eikleberry. Then, in the Duck Race, he made trainer Randy Pfeifer a first-time winner this meet aboard Choral Song.
“Been a good day,” Goodwin said matter of factly.
A good summer.
Before we recount the events of the day, there are additional suggestions to be made. For instance, in the race called the Battle of the Surfaces, pitting horses on the turf against others on the grass. It is an amazing spectacle, watching two races being run as one. Yet it could be improved. Next year, why not add the training track beyond the main track and turf course to create even more excitement. Maybe even run quarter horses on the training track, for an added dimension. Just imagine, watching three races at the same time but it is actually one race. What a rush. What a reason to skip the cabin, fishing, boating on the St. Croix. It would be better than the State Fair, Valley Fair and the Scott County Fair all in one. A three for one deal, so to speak.
As good as Extreme Day already is, it can certainly benefit from implementing these suggestions.
It has been several years since a turf horse has won the battle of the surfaces, but that changed on Saturday. Nutty Futty, ridden by Leslie Mawing, was the winner, breaking from the No. 2 hole on the grass. The next three finishers also ran on the grass. There were 11 starters on the turf, nine on the dirt.
Former pressbox assistant Michelle Benson, the winning rider in last year’s Camelbury Dash, now works in advertising for the Thoroughbred Daily News in New Jersey. She shipped in Saturday, hoping to defend her crown aboard last year’s winner, Rock N Spit.
Her mount did not break well and ran even worse and she was of the mind afterward that she had been aboard a ringer, simply tagged with the same name. “I don’t think it was the same camel,” Michelle said. “The hump was different.”
The winner was June’s rider of the month, Oscar Delgado, riding Alexander Camelton. “Hey, no trophy, no belt buckle,” Delgado lamented afterward.
The Spurt in the Dirt, a two-furlong affair, was won by World Famous Sam T with Larren Delorme in the irons.
Then there was the Canterbury Endurance challenge, a 1 7/8 mile marathon on the grass that went to Born Force and rider Chad Lindsay in a strange twist of affairs. On extreme day:
Orlando Mojica, aboard Blue Bomber and gliding effortlessly on the lead, did something extremely extreme: He stopped riding halfway through the race, thinking it was over. With another lap to go, Mojica stood in the irons at the finish line. Visions of Bill Shoemaker aboard Gallant Man in the 1957 Kentucky Derby, when the Shoe blew a win, standing in the irons too soon.
As for what occurred on Saturday, think nothing of it, compadre, a friend of mine once punched out at noon, thinking the lunch hour was the end of the day. Could happen to anyone.
The last two extreme races on the card were won by the same rider, Justine Klaiber. She rode her ostrich, Mark My Bird, beautifully, taking advantage of her erratic competitors who ran all over the place, to hit the finish line first.
Then she rode her zebra, Earn My Stripes, to win that race while her fractious competitors bucked their riders into the dirt or simply refused to run. Here is where another suggestion could improve conditions for this race, as suggested in the past. A couple of lions and/or hyenas nipping at their heels would keep these striped fellows running in a straight line.
There you have it, all of the ins and outs of extreme day 2017, and the suggestions that will make 2018 even grander.
Alex Canchari was very efficient on Thursday while riding just three of the eight thoroughbred races and winning with all three mounts.
Canchari took advantage of the break that followed the long July 4 race week and traveled to Los Angeles for some R and R. The broken right hand appears to have healed quickly and quite well, putting the Shakopee Kid right back in the thick of things. He has two mounts tonight.
Two-year-old Minnesota-bred thoroughbred colt Mr. Jagermeister won very impressively in his debut July 4 for trainer Valorie Lund. The son of former Lund trainee Atta Boy Roy broke a step slow but quickly took control of the race and drew off to win by 11 1/2 lengths under no pressure. The final time of 58.05 seconds is one of the fastest recorded by a maiden breaking 2-year-old in Canterbury history. The state-bred looks like the real deal and has attracted purchase offers of six figures from near and far. Lund would entertain the right number but has not heard it yet. She plans to run Mr. Jagermeister in the $65,000 Prairie Gold Juvenile at Prairie Meadows and then on Minnesota Festival of Champions Day, Aug. 20, in the $85,000 Northern Lights Futurity. The colt is owned by Lund, Kristin Boice, and Leslie Cummings.
The Minnesota Thoroughbred Association will also honor its trainer of the month, Mac Robertson. Mac has taken command of the trainer standings, which comes as no surprise considering the size of his stable, which includes many state breds, and the regularity with which his horses run and win.
The day was dedicated to the Qs, the quarterpounders, or more appropriately and accurately, the quarter horses, those speedy sprinters on the racetrack who gobble up ground in the same fashion that Usain Bolt covers 100 yards.
They are out of the blocks and rocketing toward the finish line in the blink of an eye and often need the eye of a camera to separate them at the finish line. When the quarter horses run, you can expect to find a fair share of large shiny belt buckles, western hats and ostrich boots on the grounds.
And there is nothing quite like the camaraderie of the quarter horse folks to instill some joy and excitement into the proceedings.
Sunday’s card had all of it:
Three trials for the Canterbury Derby kicked off the card, followed by the $18,000 Mystic Lake Northlands Juvenile, the $45,765 Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ Futurity and then the granddaddy of Canterbury Q racing, the $167,600 Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity.
There were smaller stories, too, to go with the larger tales of the day. Take the winning rider of the second trial race, Marcus Swiontek, a local lad from Jordan. Swiontek rode Bout Tree Fiddy for the Tomey Swan barn, a winner on his 27th birthday.
Tom and Bill Maher’s Eagle Deluxe won the Juvenile; Duane Murphy’s BS Special won the Stallion Breeders Futurity and the Kendrix brothers _ Harvey, Donald and EB _ won the Northlands Futurity with A Jordon Reed.
$167,600 MYSTIC LAKE NORTHLANDS FUTURITY
Next time you are in Oklahoma it might pay to look up one of the Kendrix brothers, Donnie in particular. Approachable, affable and generally just a downright nice fellow. You won’t have to talk long before you get an invitation to dinner.
You get that an impression anyway a mere five minutes into a discussion with the man. Then again, having just won $83,800 could put a lot of folks in a congenial mood. Didn’t you tell the cashier at Super America you’d take her to lunch _ in Paris _ if the lottery ticket she sold you is a winner.
All that aside, the Kendrix brothers drove from Oklahoma to Shakopee for the second time this summer. They were here for the Mystic Lake Northland trials and were on hand again Sunday. It was a good day for them, their horse, the Ed Ross Hardy barn and rider Oscar Delgado, the hottest quarter horse jockey on the grounds.
A Jordon Reed got a clean break and was first to the wire by a half length over Agent Carter, who finished a neck in front of Miss Jess Carter. The winning time was 17.847.
For his part, Delgado said he wasn’t certain of anything until the wire. “I just kept riding,” he explained.
Don Kendrix added this footnote: “He didn’t ask for 100 percent in the trials. But he did today.”
The best part about this two-year-old is his demeanor. “A real calm horse. Won’t run from you when you approach and will let you put your hands on him,” Don added.
So, when A Jordon’s competition is creating all sorts of havoc in the gate, he keeps his head about him and is generally well positioned for the break.
Kendrix Farms has been operating for four decades, since 1973 and it’s an easy place to find.
“We’re on top of a hill in New Castle, just a mile and one half down the road from the New Castle Casino, run by the Chickasaw tribe. The pavement comes right into our place, too,” Don said. “It was all countryside when the farm was built in the early 1970s but is now considered suburban Oklahoma City. “We’re just 20 minutes from downtown,” Don said.
Hardy, too, was delighted with the win.
“That will just about make the summer won’t it, Ed,” someone said.
“That will work,” he responded.
The Kendrix brothers bred the winner and from Don’s point of view, they just might have that horse every owner dreams about.
“A man is lucky if he gets one good horse in a lifetime,” he said, repeating a common belief in the horse business.
Don,82 last week, pointed out that there were two sets of twins in his family of 10 siblings. He and his brother, Doyle T, now deceased, and two of his sisters.
With that kind of history, who knows, there might be another horse just as good as the one that brought them all to the winners’ circle on Sunday, a horse that looks just like A Jordon Reed.
For the time being, Sunday’s experience is plenty.
“It was a good race. A good day,” Don said.
$45,765 MINNESOTA STALLION BREEDERS’ FUTURITY
Does it get any better than this?
Not the way David Pinon saw it.
“This was easy. She made it look easy,” the winning rider said.
He was talking about BS Special, the 4/5 favorite who soared past seven rivals to win this race with room to spare, finishing a widening length in front of Triple Vodka Feature and two in front of Itinkican Itinkican, in 17.908
Trainer Casey Black gave that credit to the winning owner, Duane Murphy, who unlike many owners did not expect too much, too soon and was never in a rush.
“With an owner like that you don’t end up with a horse that is nervous because you’ve messed with their heads trying to hurry them up,” Black said. “If an owner gives you the time to work with a horse, this is what can happen.”
$18,000 MYSTIC LAKE NORTHLANDS JUVENILE
Tom Maher loves everything about Canterbury Park, the owners, the employees, anything you care to name.
“The Sampsons are friendly, all of the employees are friendly. Even the security guards are friendly,” he said, chuckling.
Told that it was merely Minnesota Nice, Maher agreed there was that aspect to his trips here, but made an allowance. “Minnesota Nice is second to South Dakota Nice.”
It seems appropriate to allow him that belief. After all he was still basking in the glow of winning the Northlands Juvenile with his Eagle Deluxe, ridden by Brayan Velazquez.
Maher, a Pierre, S.D. native, makes frequent trips to Minnesota to race his quarter horses at Canterbury and has had his share of success. He is third in total winnings and second in total wins in track history.
Asked about his winning horse on Sunday, the affable Maher delivered a few platitudes with a chuckle and then added, “If that’s not good enough, make something up.”
In any event, Eagle Deluxe was a clear half-length winner over Bobby Elvis and had a full length on CK Annalea, winning in 18.052.
What Maher did allow was this:
“This horse is likely going to be better at 440,” he said.
The adrenaline was flowing and Oscar Delgado released it as he strode through the tunnel to the jockeys’ room after winning the first race on Saturday’s card.
“That guy never stops talking and I should know because I talk a lot,” said a fellow rider.
Yes, Delgado has never been accused of being at a loss for words, but as he’s demonstrating this summer, he can generally back up whatever it is he has to say. He will ride the second favorite in the richest quarter horse race in Canterbury history on Sunday’s card.
The leader in the quarter horse rider standings, Delgado was once petrified by horses, but he has never been afraid to speak his mind, to attempt new undertakings with a willingness to learn from his mistakes.
Take his understanding of English, a language with which he had little familiarity when he arrived in the United States 10 years ago. “I know a lot of people who won’t speak English because they are afraid someone will make fun of them,” Delgado said. “I tell them that they won’t ever learn if they don’t make mistakes and keeping trying.”
Delgado allows himself to do just that and it has served him well. He makes distinctions, searches for and then applies a word that expresses sometimes a miniscule difference. “How should I say it,” he will say, attempting a word and then discarding it for another that expresses a small difference in what it is he wants to convey. Nuances do not trouble him in the least.
“People sometimes tell me I’m greedy,” he said. “But wanting to win, being competitive, I don’t think that’s greedy.”
Competitive? Oh yes.
“He has a good personality, is friendly and he hollered to me on the backside a couple of times,” said trainer Ed Ross Hardy. “He wanted to know if I had anything for him.” Last summer at Prairie Meadows Hardy’s wife asked him, how about this guy, referring to Delgado. Hardy started to use Delgado toward the end of that meet.
Then this spring at Remington Park, Hardy looked up one morning and guess who was walking into his barn. “I threw him on a couple of horses,” Hardy said. “He kept showing up every morning after that.”
Delgado has 12 wins, six more than anyone else, in the quarter horse standings at Canterbury Park after riding the winner of Saturday’s first race. Trainers in Shakopee are beginning to take notice, as Hardy certainly has.
“I haven’t had anyone in my barn this good since Tad Leggett,” Hardy said, referring to the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame rider who won three quarter horse riding titles outright and shared a fourth. Not that Delgado is there yet.
“No, he has a way to go yet,” Hardy added, “but he has the talent and the desire to be that good in time.”
Time and time again, Delgado demonstrates that he has a special connection with horses and that he understands what to ask of them and when. “You have to be a horseman first,” Delgado said. “They know right away when you touch them if you are okay and have confidence in yourself and in them.”
There is more to riding successfully than confidence alone and Delgado seems to have that, too.
“A lot of jockeys have trouble deciding when to be aggressive and when not,” Hardy added. “That’s a talent thing. A lot of them don’t know when to push or pull. He’s talented in that sense, has an athletic ability. He knows his body, his hands and his stick.”
And yet he was scared to death of horses as a youngster.
“I never wanted to ride,” he explained. “But it was sort of a family tradition. My grandfather had horses.”
It was Delgado’s father and his oldest sibling, Juan, also a rider, who finally convinced him to conquer his fear. And it was (horse owner) friends of Juan’s who filled out the paperwork and took care of other necessary stipulations in 2007 to bring Oscar to the U.S., to Mount Pleasant Meadows in Michigan
Delgado has ridden thoroughbreds as well, but has made his mark in the quarter horse ranks. Among the tracks he listed where he has won riding titles are Mount Pleasant, Hoosier Park, Hialeah and Indiana Downs.
His most memorable moment while learning the ropes in the U.S. came in a thoroughbred race at Gulfstream Park, in his first race on the grass. “I finished first,” he said, “and Edgar Prado was second. He signed the picture for me after I got it.”
Winning that race gave Delgado a shot of confidence that he belonged in this sport that had drawn him from Mexico to the racetracks of the United States.
Sunday, Delgado will ride A Jordan Reed, the 9-2 second choice, in the $167,600 Mystic Lake Northlands Futurity , the richest quarter horse race in track history. The two-year-old is out of the Hardy barn and will break from the one hole in the 10-horse field.
Told that his horse was second choice in the race, Delgado waved his arms furiously. “No I don’t want to hear that,” he said.
Clearly, Delgado doesn’t want anyone else speaking for him or his horse. He can do that himself.