20,291 Enjoy Extreme Day

2013 Zebra RaceYou could have looked high and low and not found anything ordinary about the day or its trappings. It was extreme in every sense of the word, from the camels, ostriches and zebras to the crowd itself.

Extreme Day on Saturday evoked scenes from the 1980s. The extremely large crowd was a Canterbury Park record 20,291, besting the previous mark of 18,230 set on Kentucky Derby and opening day in 2008. It was the largest crowd at Canterbury Park or Downs since a turnout of 21,003 on Aug. 14 in 1988.

The lines were extreme – at the concession stands, the pari mutual windows, the valet lot. The races were extreme, starting with the first which was run at 110 yards for quarter horses, a distance at which Usain Bolt might have competed himself.

How about the way the card began – with two track records, the first by the Stacy Charette-Hill trained Stone Cottrell, under Jorge Torres, of course, in 6.988 seconds for 110 yards. That race was the $15,000-added Quarter Horse Dash in a Flash Stakes.

Burnt Ivory won race two under Ismael Suarez for trainer Vic Hanson, covering 220 yards in 12:12, breaking the previous standard recorded way, way back on May 18, 1990.

How about this, for EXTREMELY impressive: Trainer Mike Burgess, the champion quarter horse jockey way, way back in 1988 when the track was called Canterbury Downs, hopped aboard Rock “N” Spit and outdueled Sir Camelot to win the Camelbury Dash.

The winner of the Don’t Lay and Egg Dash was Flightless Fred, ridden superbly by Denny Velasquez, who actually posted in the saddle aboard this bird, and, as put by PA announcer Paul Allen, embellished for style points by pointing at the crowd as he swooped past the finish line, winning by several lengths.

“He won for fun,” said handicapper supreme The Oracle.

There was also the Zebra race, won by Pin Stripe Paul under Nate Quinonez, whose mount lugged out at the break but straightened out and ran down the competition while ridden out.

On the serious side of the day’s events:

Heliskier, who won his first seven races but stumbled out of the gate in his last out and was vanned off the track, made his first appearance on the grass and at 7 ½ furlongs.

Last year’s Horse of the Year at Canterbury Park was sent off the 4-5 favorite but was legitimately beaten by 7-1 outsider Ol Winedrinker Who under a perfect ride from Ry Eikleberry.

Heliskier caught a glimpse of Breezy Point, dug in and repelled that one, but did not appear to see Ol Winedrinker.

“The main thing is that he’s OK,” said disappointed rider Derek Bell, who won the 1,500th race of his career on Successful Touch in race three.

Bell appeared to be on the winner in the stretch drive but Heliskier didn’t respond to the winner’s late surge.

“I don’t know, maybe he got tired,” said Bell.

Bell, nonetheless, reached a minor milestone that is certainly bittersweet after spending the last several years on the sidelines of several racing venues for unspecified and unproven charges. His win total would be substantially larger if not for that injustice.

COULD IT BE EARWAX?

Jeff Maday, former school teacher, current pressbox dean, handicapper and provider of program riches, was crestfallen at the lack of sensitivity on extreme day, any day for that matter. “Nobody ever listens to me,” he said.

The issue?

He was trying to demonstrate that people do not listen; thus, verbal communication is useless. He was trying to prove a point, that people don’t listen, to paddock analysts, to presidents, especially to him.

He pointed out, for example, that Ms Angela Hermann, the track’s pulchritudinous paddock provider of inside thought and heretofore unspoken truth, might as well talk to herself in a mirror.

To fill in for her, Maday said he called a mime… but it didn’t work.

“Nobody laughed,” he said. “Because nobody listened.”

Point, Maday.

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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.

16,071 Witness Extreme Race Day! (W/Video)

Extreme day had something for everyone on Saturday, and everyone totaled 16,071 patrons on hand to watch Red Hot Zoomer win one of the shortest races in track history, Wild Jacob repeat as John Bullit champion, the mayor of Shakopee win another race, this time on a camel, and a one-eyed horse steal the HBPA Sprint Stakes.

Oh, yes, and the Ostrich dash, won by veteran rider Derek Bell, riding a bird for the first time in his career.

There was also the first helium-called race in thoroughbred history, with announcer Paul Allen breathing from a helium balloon during parts of the race.

STEVENS WINS ANOTHER JOHN BULLIT

Maybe the John Bullit Stakes is a misnomer, maybe the name should be altered to somehow include the name Scott Stevens because the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame rider has a hold on this race.

Once again, Stevens found a way to win a race against long odds. Granted he was riding the defending champion, and granted he was riding a horse conditioned by a man he calls the consummate trainer.

Still, the $50,000 John Bullit for 2012 attracted out of state and local talent that made Stevens’ horse Wild Jacob an outside choice at 5-1 over the mile and 1-16th distance on the turf.

Didn’t matter.

Wild Jacob caught fire approaching the final sixteenth and finished two lengths in front of Edgerin J and 2 and ½ in front of multiple stakes winning Stachys.

The win was the fifth in the John Bullit for Stevens, who was aboard Doc Hollywood in the inaugural running in 1996 and on Sharman the next year.

He also rode Tiganello in 2008 and Trying Brian in 2009. Derek Bell, also a Hall of Famer, is the only other rider with four John Bullit wins.

For Stevens, though, there is another special attachment to this race. He won the 2,000th and 4,000th races of his career in the John Bullit. He also rode John Bullit at one point during his career.

But the credit according to Stevens belongs to winning trainer Stanley Mankin.

“He’s one of the best trainers I’ve ridden for,” Stevens said. “He only has four horses but he takes such good care of them and has them so ready.”

$35,000 HBPA SPRINT STAKES

The finish left trainer Tony Rengstorf pleased but shaking his head, owner Bonnie Baskin delighted and Dean Butler the rider on another winning stake horse.

Desert Alley, the only Minnesota-bred in the race, led from gate to wire, desperately withstanding Clear to Canada in the final 100 yards to win by a length.

“I didn’t expect this,” Rengstorf said. “He is better off at 5 ½ but he held on.”

The race came down to the top two horses at the finish, with only Desert Alley and the Miguel Silva trained Clear to Canada, who had 5 and ½ lengths on Gordon Drive, in the running. The winner even overcame the fact he races without a right eye, lost to an infection. “We don’t know if he got dirt in it or what, but it got infected,” Rengstorf added.

SHORT IS GOOD

The card commenced with shortest race of the day, in fact the second shortest race in Canterbury Park annals, and a 3-year-old sorrel filly called Red Hot Zoomer made short work of the competition.

A seven-horse field lined up for this track first, the $15,000-added Dash in a Flash, the $15,000 financed by the Mystic Lake Purse Enhancement Fund.

The race was over four jumps out of the gate as Red Hot Zoomer, by Azoom from Prairie War, broke as if she had been shot out of a cannon.

“She just blew out of there,” said winning rider Nik Goodwin, who added one more win to his leading total among quarter horse riders. “She can fly when she gets her feet under her like that.”

The winner is trained by perennial quarter horse training champ Ed Ross Hardy and is owned by Terry Thorson.

THE MAYOR RULES

Shakopee mayor Brad Tabke and a camel named Mayor Camelot blew away the competition in Saturday’s Camelbury Dash, one of the annual highlights of Extreme Day at Canterbury Park.

Mayor Camelot was the 2-1 morning line favorite and looked it, breaking outside his three competitors. Of the four, only the winner ran a straight true line with any alacrity to his movement.

Afterwards, Mayor Tabke expressed kind, glowing thoughts for Canterbury and its role in the Shakopee community.

Meanwhile, several disgruntled side bettors called foul, and they weren’t referring to the odoriferous being of the humpbacked athletes.

The suggestion was that a camel named Mayor Camelot, ridden by a real Mayor, must have been a set-up.

Paddock analyst Angela Hermann, who finished third on Camelflage behind the runnerup, Spittin’ Image ridden by trainer Gerry Corcoran, described the experience as “a bumpy” ride. Included in her race analysis was this recollection from comments made before the race:

“People kept asking if I had made out my will and if I had insurance,” she said.

The fourth camel, Humpty Dumpme, finished last under trainer Tony Rengstorf

BELL, BIG BIRD STEAL RACE

The Don’t Lay an Egg Dash is an annual favorite at Canterbury Park, first because it’s a strange sight to see grown men, or women as the case may be, riding a bird.

Or as Saturday’s winning rider, Derek Bell, put it, “a big chicken.”

Bell, riding the race for the first time, kept his seat and his bearings, something two of his competitors were unable to do, and stole the show aboard Wally the Birdman.

Larren Delorme was unable to keep his seat on Ostradamus out of the No. 1 hole. Jeramie Fennell rode Flockstar, Denny Velazquez was aboard Bird if the Word and Marcus Swiontek was on Ostracized.

“That was pretty weird,” Bell said after his first Ostrich ride. “It was like riding a chicken, a big souped-up chicken.”

By the way, Bell’s bird won by a long neck.

PA REVISITS 1995

The final “Extreme” event on the card was Paul Allen revisiting tones last heard around Canterbury Park in 1995. Paul called the 9th race on the card with an assist from Helium bringing his voice back into a register not familiar to some of Canterbury Park’s younger fans. Here’s the race:

Here’s a look at the race with some behind the scenes footage:

 

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