Canterbury Fans Get Their Own Show

BY JIM WELLS

There was a race on the undercard of the Preakness Stakes Saturday that featured an astounding runner named Mitole, the swiftest 3-year-old sprinter in the country, a colt with a dazzling turn of speed.

Mitole put on a show for anyone watching, leaving an entire field of horses in his wake after switching gears in the stretch drive and pulling away so smoothly it looked effortless.

The patrons at Canterbury Park saw a similar race later in the afternoon, right there on the home track, when Mr. Jagermeister destroyed five rivals in the $50,000 10,000 Lakes Stakes, winning just as easily while looking equally impressive.

There is more to say about this comparison. Mr. Jagermeister, it so happens, lost by a similar margin in his last race to this very same Mitole.

Saturday, it was Mr. Jagermeister administering the whipping, drawing this thought from rival trainer Franciso Bravo, who saddled Smooth Chiraz and Hold For More:

“I knew  he’d be big trouble,” said Bravo. “He’s a monster.”

Mr. Jagermeister had 8 ½ lengths on Hot shot Kid at the wire and 11 ½ on Smooth Chiraz, with a final time of 1:10.81.

Indeed. Mr. Jagermeister, a three-year-old, delivered a thrashing to five rivals, racing against older horses for the first time. There is more to what seems to be a developing story with numerous elements to it.

Mr. Jagermeister still fools around on the track, takes his mind off business once he’s passed horses. “He thinks his job is done,” said winning rider Leandro Goncalves. “I have to keep after him.”

Despite those elements, Mr. Jagermeister is the real deal. Moments later, when the conversation had changed, Goncalves very expressively conveyed a deeper truth about the horse. “He’s a very nice colt, very, very talented,” he said.

The son of Atta Boy Roy from the Corinthian mare Frangelica is from a line of slow developers, so trainer Valorie Lund takes that element into consideration while laying out plans for her talented three-year-old.

“He’s still a baby, a big baby,” she said. “If he stays healthy, wait until next year.”

Well…local fans don’t want to wait that long, and it appears that won’t be a problem. Lund says she plans on keeping the horse in Shakopee this summer.

$50,000 LADY SLIPPER STAKES

A much more competitive race than it’s male counterpart, the Lady Slipper also had a surprise in store for bettors and the connections in the race.

Pinup Girl, sent off at 5-1, turned in the kind of effort trainer Sandra Sweere had envisioned but wasn’t positive she would get. After all, Pinup Girl can throw her weight around in certain instances.

Saturday afternoon, she confined that to the race track despite a makeup that might preclude such a demonstration at the distance. “She’s not a six-furlong horse,” said Sweere, “but she got a good ride from a good rider (Santiago Gonzalez).”

And was able to take advantage of the situation when odds-on favorite and defending champion Honey’s Sox Appeal didn’t fire in the stretch drive, after changing paths to get around Shipmate and Ta Kela.

The winner, running for the first time this year, finished two lengths in front of Ta Kela Warning and 6 ¾ ahead of Shipmate in a time of 1:12.3.

Despite a name that suggests otherwise, the winning filly can be a handful in the barn or outside of it. “She knocked me to the ground, knocked me out when I was taking her off the walker two years ago,” said Sweere, who had that on her mind after Saturday’s win.

“We have to go to the test barn with her,” she said. “Otherwise, she’ll rear up on the vets when they take a blood sample.”

That wasn’t a complaint by Sweere. She’ll take all the test barn trips she can get.

1990 PREAKNESS MEMORIES

On the morning before the 1990 Preakness Stakes, a rental car and its driver arrived at the hotel in which Minneapolis-Star Tribune columnist Pat Reusse was staying. He was there to cover the Twins against the Baltimore Orioles but while in town decided to take in the race as well. After all, a horse named Unbridled, the Kentucky Derby winner owned by Frances Genter of Bloomington, was running, giving Minnesota a stake in the action.

Reusse had agreed to an historical tour with the driver of the car, yours truly, then covering thoroughbred racing for the St Paul Pioneer Press. He had been given a vague heads-up of what he was about to visit.

He grew increasingly more interested when I pulled up to an old church and cemetery grounds. “What’s here,” he asked. “You are about to find out,” I replied.

The tombstones were ancient and the grounds included several above-ground crypts that resembled small airplane hangers.  The slate fronts on some of the moss-stained crypts were broken, allowing a glimpse inside with the aid of a cigarette lighter.

After examining a few burial sites in this manner, we arrived at the goal of the visit: the grave of poet Edgar Allen Poe, better known to modern day readers for his gothic tales of horror, the means by which he supported himself while writing legitimate literature. We would subsequently drive by the home where the poet lived as a young man. There was plenty of time for doing so, since our visit to the graveyard, an ancient, spooky place, was relatively short.

Time sometimes distorts and colors memory, but I am fairly certain of the following details:

Our visit at the final resting place of the immortal Edgar Allen was completed when I turned to see my companion heading toward the front gate.

I swear he was tip-toeing while uttering the following words, in a guttural tone: “Let’s get out of here, Wells.”

FOOTNOTE: Unbridled couldn’t contend with Summer Squall in the stretch drive and finished 2 ¼ lengths back in what was essentially a two-horse race that summer.

 

 

 

 

Yeah, You Know…

SignsealndeliverIt was the kind of day Dark Star would have approved of without qualification. It was all about him.

From the large gathering in the President’s suite, assembled In his honor, to the absurdly large congregation in the winner’s circle after the race named in his honor, which was preceded by countless stories about him and a video tribute immediately before the $50,000 Dark Star Cup put together diligently by TV production manager Jon Mikkelson, film clip by film clip, from nearly 30 years of footage about the Dark Man.

George Chapple was in his glory.

Many of his friends were on hand, including Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist and KSTP radio host Patrick Reusse, who presented the winning trophy.

The only glitch in the entire day was that the favorite did not win, meaning Dark, who always took the chalk, would have had a second place horse.

“Oh, yeah, he would have had the three horse,” said paddock analyst Angela Hermann.

“Absolutely,” said another.

The three horse was Southern Dude who was part of a very swift early pace that set up the finish perfectly for someone eyeing the action up front, namely Signsealndeliver, ridden to perfection by Ry Eikleberry, who moved two in front of Lori Keith in the rider standings.

The winner shipped in from Arlington Friday night to the barn of Corey Jensen and was ridden by Eikleberry, who performed his due diligence before the race and put the information he learned to use.

Eikleberry had not laid eyes on the horse before he rode him, so he watched films, just as a defensive back might study an opposing receiver’s tendencies.

“I noticed that he didn’t mind splitting horses,” Eikleberry said.

Which is precisely what he did, taking advantage of the swift pace set by Southern Dude and Absolutely Cool to split those two in the final 1/16th, winning by a length over the Dude. The favorite was coming off a third place finish in a graded stake at Churchill Downs. Third was Absolutely Cool out of the Valorie Lund barn, a neck back of the favorite.

The winning time was 1:15.66 after fractions of 22.35, 44.61 and 1:09.04.

The winner paid $11.80, $4.40 and $3.

Which leaves us with a final Dark Star story now that the inaugural running of his race is done.

His buddy Reusse was chuckling over a framed certificate sent to Dark and now part of Canterbury press box memorabilia.

It was sent to the Dark Man from the American Lung Association, a certificate of appreciation for “outstanding service toward improving community health in the prevention and control of lung diseases and their causes.”

It was an award greatly appreciated by the Dark Man, who was a heavy smoker.

MINNESOTA STALLION BREEDERS’ & NORTH CENTRAL QUARTER HORSE DERBY

There was nothing surprising about the winner of the Minnesota Stallion Breeders’ and North Central Derby, with its $22,300 purse.

The Amber Smith-trained BP Painted Lady, the 4-5 favorite, did her thing and outclassed the field under Cody Smith.

She was the favorite for good reason, having posted the fastest qualifying time in the trial and having banked the most money of the 10-horse field, reduced to nine after Fly Eyeann became a gate scratch.

What wasn’t expected was the ambush from an inside horse that winning rider Cody Smith thought momentarily might spell his horse’s doom.

Outlaw Memories, ridden by Eikleberry, broke from the No. 2 hole and made an immediate right hand turn, pushing the two horses next to her, Hastabealeader and CC Tres sideways toward the favorite.

“I saw that happening and thought they might hit us,” said Smith. “Luckily we ran free (of the trouble).”

There was a certain irony to the ambush since the inside three horses are all trained by Bob Johnson. So, too, was the No. 6 horse, so the Johnson clan had the favorite and eventual winner sandwiched.

It didn’t matter. BP ran a straight course and finished in 20:257.

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.

Remembering Dark Star

On the morning before the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes, the racing community at Canterbury Park said goodbye and paid its respects to a man who would not only have been present but at his boisterous best if fate had not intervened.

There was after all the disappointing defection of a horse pointed toward the Triple Crown. That would have drawn a comment or two of outrageous nature from the fellow in question here.

There was the heat and early morning humidity enveloping the assembled group in the paddock. Even his best friend, Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Radio 1500, made reference to the distaste for such weather by the fellow in question.

One story followed after another about the fellow in question, George Chapple or, as the world knew him, Dark Star.

What was revealed about Dark Star, who died June 1 at age 66, was right out of a George Roy Hill production.

What became quite clear during the proceedings to honor Dark Star’s life was that if you thought you knew him, you really didn’t. If you thought you had seen it all, you really hadn’t.

The long-held contention that Dark was one-of-a-kind proved to be not nearly adequate as a description for the man.

As the stories unfolded from one friend after another, it became obvious that we clearly underestimated his talents for pulling off a scam.

More on that matter later.

Click Here to Watch Video From WCCO TV

Kevin Gorg and Paul Allen agreed, for different reasons, that Dark would have been all over Union Rags in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, the on Saturday.

“He always bet the favorite,” Allen said.

“That was his Derby horse. He would have wanted to prove he was right,” said Gorg.

On Saturday, the Dark Man got his winner.

Just as Dark’s friends and acquaintances got a glimpse of him theretofore not seen during the morning tribute to the man.

Eric Halstrom, the former Vice President of Racing at Canterbury Park and now the GM of the Fairgrounds in New Orleans, told the story that still had loose ends until he, Joe Friedberg and Reusse conferred.

In a nutshell:

During a recent visit to New Orleans, Dark and Halstrom were strolling the French Quarter when the Dark Man stepped into a furniture story. Dark disappeared somewhere in the store moments later. Meanwhile, a man collapsed on the floor near Halstrom.

Long story short:

Dark appears moments later claiming to be a fellow named Dr. Herman Brown. “Stand aside,” Dark said to the small gathering around the man, which included Halstrom. The Dark Man, meanwhile, begins his ministrations which included asking the man if he is diabetic.

Then the paramedics arrive, rescuing the Dark Man from what would have become a tough situation. He tells them that he has diagnosed the man in a diabetic shock. They go with it and it turns out he is right. The storeowners are impressed and inquire of Dark the Doctor what they might do to repay him.

The Dark Man chooses a $700 table he has been eyeing in their store, for a young niece he wants to surprise and asks that it be shipped.

Halstrom has no idea where the table was shipped, until Saturday when he’s speaking with Friedberg. “I know where it was shipped – to Reusse,” Friedberg said.

Not until Saturday was the full story told. The table was shipped to Reusse, and Dark later picked it up.

Friedberg added the story of how he represented Dark in an insurance case. The Dark Man claimed that a baseball card collection worth more than $300,000 had been stolen from the trunk of his car at the Minnesota State Fair.

Friedberg was still asking himself Saturday why a man would leave such a valuable item in the trunk of his car at the state fair. Nonetheless, legitimate questions be damned, Dark won his insurance claim and collected $285,000.

Perhaps he used some of that money, to put a steam room into the apartment he rented. Which raised a question of a different sort from Reusse.

“What man in his right mind,” Reusse wondered, spends $37,000 to install a steam room in a rented apartment?”

Dark Star, that’s who, a man who would have had the Belmont winner on Saturday.

MINNESOTA STALLION BREEDERS’ AND NORTH CENTRAL QUARTER HORSE DERBY

Amber Blair refuses to read a word of any kind about a horse she trains before a race. She will check it out afterward upon returning to the barn.

Whatever she reads about a 3-year-old gelding she trains named Painted Lies will pretty much match what happened on the race track Saturday afternoon.

The overwhelming favorite in the 400-yard race, Painted Lies streaked to the wire under Cody Smith just in front of fast closing Feature Dreamgirl and Explosive Guns, in a winning time of 20.339.

Blair’s only concern before hand?

“Bad luck,” he said. “I’m very superstitious.”

The winning owner Tom Maher of Pierre, S.D., was as excited about the agreement between Canterbury Park and Mystic Lake as he was his horse’s victory.

Maher has been coming to Shakopee since 1985 and was enthralled by the agreement.

“I’m delighted with it,” he said. “It is really something that the Sampsons made the deal, thinking of us horsemen first. I’m really impressed with it.”

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.

Remembering Dark Star

On the morning before the 144th running of the Belmont Stakes, the racing community at Canterbury Park said goodbye and paid its respects to a man who would not only have been present but at his boisterous best if fate had not intervened.

There was after all the disappointing defection of a horse pointed toward the Triple Crown. That would have drawn a comment or two of outrageous nature from the fellow in question here.

There was the heat and early morning humidity enveloping the assembled group in the paddock. Even his best friend, Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and Radio 1500, made reference to the distaste for such weather by the fellow in question.

One story followed after another about the fellow in question, George Chapple or, as the world knew him, Dark Star.

What was revealed about Dark Star, who died June 1 at age 66, was right out of a George Roy Hill production.

What became quite clear during the proceedings to honor Dark Star’s life was that if you thought you knew him, you really didn’t. If you thought you had seen it all, you really hadn’t.

The long-held contention that Dark was one-of-a-kind proved to be not nearly adequate as a description for the man.

As the stories unfolded from one friend after another, it became obvious that we clearly underestimated his talents for pulling off a scam.

More on that matter later.

Click Here to Watch Video From WCCO TV

Kevin Gorg and Paul Allen agreed, for different reasons, that Dark would have been all over Union Rags in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, the on Saturday.

“He always bet the favorite,” Allen said.

“That was his Derby horse. He would have wanted to prove he was right,” said Gorg.

On Saturday, the Dark Man got his winner.

Just as Dark’s friends and acquaintances got a glimpse of him theretofore not seen during the morning tribute to the man.

Eric Halstrom, the former Vice President of Racing at Canterbury Park and now the GM of the Fairgrounds in New Orleans, told the story that still had loose ends until he, Joe Friedberg and Reusse conferred.

In a nutshell:

During a recent visit to New Orleans, Dark and Halstrom were strolling the French Quarter when the Dark Man stepped into a furniture story. Dark disappeared somewhere in the store moments later. Meanwhile, a man collapsed on the floor near Halstrom.

Long story short:

Dark appears moments later claiming to be a fellow named Dr. Herman Brown. “Stand aside,” Dark said to the small gathering around the man, which included Halstrom. The Dark Man, meanwhile, begins his ministrations which included asking the man if he is diabetic.

Then the paramedics arrive, rescuing the Dark Man from what would have become a tough situation. He tells them that he has diagnosed the man in a diabetic shock. They go with it and it turns out he is right. The storeowners are impressed and inquire of Dark the Doctor what they might do to repay him.

The Dark Man chooses a $700 table he has been eyeing in their store, for a young niece he wants to surprise and asks that it be shipped.

Halstrom has no idea where the table was shipped, until Saturday when he’s speaking with Friedberg. “I know where it was shipped – to Reusse,” Friedberg said.

Not until Saturday was the full story told. The table was shipped to Reusse, and Dark later picked it up.

Friedberg added the story of how he represented Dark in an insurance case. The Dark Man claimed that a baseball card collection worth more than $300,000 had been stolen from the trunk of his car at the Minnesota State Fair.

Friedberg was still asking himself Saturday why a man would leave such a valuable item in the trunk of his car at the state fair. Nonetheless, legitimate questions be damned, Dark won his insurance claim and collected $285,000.

Perhaps he used some of that money, to put a steam room into the apartment he rented. Which raised a question of a different sort from Reusse.

“What man in his right mind,” Reusse wondered, spends $37,000 to install a steam room in a rented apartment?”

Dark Star, that’s who, a man who would have had the Belmont winner on Saturday.

MINNESOTA STALLION BREEDERS’ AND NORTH CENTRAL QUARTER HORSE DERBY

Amber Blair refuses to read a word of any kind about a horse she trains before a race. She will check it out afterward upon returning to the barn.

Whatever she reads about a 3-year-old gelding she trains named Painted Lies will pretty much match what happened on the race track Saturday afternoon.

The overwhelming favorite in the 400-yard race, Painted Lies streaked to the wire under Cody Smith just in front of fast closing Feature Dreamgirl and Explosive Guns, in a winning time of 20.339.

Blair’s only concern before hand?

“Bad luck,” he said. “I’m very superstitious.”

The winning owner Tom Maher of Pierre, S.D., was as excited about the agreement between Canterbury Park and Mystic Lake as he was his horse’s victory.

Maher has been coming to Shakopee since 1985 and was enthralled by the agreement.

“I’m delighted with it,” he said. “It is really something that the Sampsons made the deal, thinking of us horsemen first. I’m really impressed with it.”

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.