BY JIM WELLS
Gopher caps, shirts and other exhibits of maroon and gold were sprinkled throughout Sunday’s crowd as they enjoyed a day of racing, highlighted by qualifying for the NCQHRA Futurity, and an appearance by P.J. Fleck himself.
Yes, indeed, that was the new University of Minnesota football coach rowing a small boat across the infield pond accompanied by Goldie Gopher at the staff of a golden flag with a maroon M that wafted in the steady Sunday breeze. The occasion created visions of another great leader, at another time and place, on the Potomac, the stars and stripes waving grandly in the winter air.
Yet, it had to be disappointing to fans who wondered why the new Gopher coach rowed across the pond instead of walking on it.
P.J. demonstrated what it means to Row the Boat, his mantra, and said he had enough steam left to row the return trip if need be. Later in the winner’s circle during an interview with track announcer Paul Allen, P.J. talked about the Rose Bowl and other great things in the Gophers approaching future.
Yes, that is correct. Canterbury’s own P.A interviewed the University of Minnesota’s P.J.
All in all it was a heady mood, certainly not detracting from that enjoyed by trainers who qualified their horses for the North Central Quarter Horse Racing Association Futurity on August 6.
Among the more heady, without even a confirmation of that truth, had to be trainer Jason Olmstead, who has won the last three runnings of this race, last year with Heza Prospect, in 2015 with Eagles Span and 2014 with Corona Concierge.
Olmstead has more than a gambler’s shot at making in four straight after qualifying five horses in Sunday’s trials.
That is correct, of the 10 qualifying horses for the grand finale, five of them were saddled by Olmstead, who is leading the way in the trainer’s standings in a duel with Ed Ross Hardy.
Five qualifying races were part of Sunday’s card. Dickey Bob, an Olmstead horse, won the first heat to qualifying in a time of 17.936 seconds, third fastest of Sunday’s qualifiers. Dickey Bob is owned by Lunderborg, LLC and was ridden by Brayan Velazquez.
The winner of race two, Marfilmio, was the second fastest of Sunday’s qualifiers, with a time of 17.909 seconds. Ridden by Ismael Suarez Ricardo and trained by Vic Hanson, the horse is owned by David and Debra Harsche. A second qualifier from that race was First of 15, ridden by Nik Goodwin, trained by Olmstead and owned by Richard Tobin. The qualifying time was 17.953. Fourth best of the day.
Cappy, the winner of the third heat, just made the list of qualifiers with a time of 18.173 seconds. Cappy was ridden by David Pinon, is trained by Casey black and is owned by Larry Sharp. Cappy’s time filled the final spot among the 10 qualifying horses.
JJSir James had the fastest qualifying time of the day, winning the fourth race under Justine Klaiber in 17.890 seconds. The overall winner on Sunday is trained by Randy Weidner and is owned by Jerry Olson.
A second qualifier from the fourth race was I Told You IM Fancy, clocked in 18.083. That horse was ridden by Nik Goodwin and is another Olmstead trainee.
Lady Eagle 123 won the fifth and final qualifying race in a time of 17.966, fifth best of the day. She was ridden by Oscar Delgado, is trained by Rudy Ramirez and is owned by Larry Rice. High Valley Girl, under Elliot Bachicha, Jr., and trained by Charlton Hunt qualified from the same race with a time of 18.159. She is owned by Butch Webb.
Cannalytical qualified just in front of Lady Eagle from the same race in a time of 18.112. She was ridden by Goodwin, is trained by Olmstead and is owned by Gene and Faye Reeves.