Mr. Jagermeister Favored To Repeat in 10,000 Lakes Stakes

A pair of $50,000 Minnesota-bred stakes sprints will be run Saturday at Canterbury Park: the 10,000 Lakes and the Lady Slipper. While the number of horses entered is small, five in the 10,000 Lakes and six in the Lady Slipper, the quality runs high with several of the best state-breds competing.

The buzz is all about Mr. Jagermeister, the 2018 Canterbury horse of the meet, who last season became the first 3-year-old to win the 10,000 Lakes.  He went on to three more wins, leading the way in the Vic Myers, the Minnesota Derby, and the Minnesota Classic Championship. He is odds-on to win the six-furlong 10,000 Lakes once again.

Trainer Valorie Lund, who owns Mr. Jagermeister with Kristin Boice and Leslie Cummings, is confident her colt is ready for a top effort. He worked over the track Sunday and has settled in well after shipping from Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he won impressively at Oaklawn Park on April 25. Mr. Jagermeister defeated three of Saturday’s four opponents last year.

“I’m happy to be outside,” Lund said of post five. “With that short of a field it’s going to be a riders’ race.”

Leandro Goncalves has the mount on Mr. Jagermeister.

To his inside from the rail out are Mines Made Up; Hot Shot Kid, who has seven wins locally; A P Is Loose, the all-time leading money earner at Canterbury, and Speeding Kid.

The 10,000 Lakes is the fourth race on a nine-race program that begins at 12:45 p.m.

The fifth race of the day is the Lady Slipper Stakes. Pinup Girl, who won this race last year en route to a four-win summer, is 9 to 2 on the morning line. She came up short on May 3 in a 5 ½ furlong sprint finishing behind Honey’s Sox Appeal and Double Bee Sting.  Both are entered in the Lady Slipper. The added half furlong on Saturday may play to Pinup Girl’s closing style. She is also two for two on a wet track, with rain in the forecast. Ry Eikleberry has the call for trainer Sandra Sweere.

Honey’s Sox Appeal, under the care of top trainer Mac Robertson, seeks her tenth win in Shakopee. The versatile mare is ridden by Constantino Roman. Robertson also entered Rock That Jewel.  The remainder of the field includes Ari Gia and stakes winner Firstmate.

Wet Day Can’t Spoil Triple Crown

BY JIM WELLS

A frequent patron of the races stuck his head outside the front door early Saturday to encounter a heavy rain. “Well,” he responded, “Canterbury Park must have something big planned today.”

There has been no better forecast of the weather this spring/summer than the schedule at the Shakopee racetrack.

If a big race is on the card, put the picnic basket and fishing pole away. If a Triple Crown race is scheduled that day, get out the umbrella and rain gear. Sometimes, it’s the oppressive humidity that ruined the day.

Saturday was no exception. The card offered two $50,000 stake races, the Minnesota Turf Distaff and the Minnesota Turf.

Naturally, they were moved to the dirt. One look at the paddock greens could have told you that would happen. On one side of the pathway to the paddock saddling area the ground and grass resembled the everglades. Valets splashed their way through tack for their designated horses.

It stayed dry and clear at Elmont, N.Y. for the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes and Justify ran a superb race under Mike Smith to become racing’s newest Triple Crown champion.

Smith, of course, was the kid from New Mexico who took Canterbury Downs by storm its first season (1985), winning the track’s first riding title. He was second, three wins behind Sandy Hawley the next year when his ambition took him to larger racetracks. He rode locally only part of the season in 1987 before leaving entirely, and it was obvious then he had the talent to compete at higher levels.

MINNESOTA TURF DISTAFF

Pinup Girl is a big, strong looking filly who covers ground quickly, as she did Saturday in the stretch drive of this fifty grand race.

After stalking the leaders throughout, she went four horses wide on the far turn under Santiago Gonzalez to win her second consecutive stake race following her Lady Slipper win on May 19.

She caught Double Bee Sting in the final strides to finish a neck in front, with TaKala Warning in third, another 1 ¾ lengths back.

Somehow she made it look easy in the process.

“Si, muy facile,” said Gonzalez.

Trainer Sandra Sweere was pleased with the result, which confirmed her belief that this filly can run on dirt or grass.

“It doesn’t matter to her,” she said. “She can run on any surface.”

Next up?

Probably the Princess Elaine on July 3.

“We’ll see. It’s up to the owners,” Sweere said. That would be Gary and Brenda Bergsrud.

MINNESOTA TURF

Hot Shot Kid is just that again, as he clearly demonstrated in this race with a commanding victory over a field seven rivals.

Under Dean Butler, Hot Shot took charge coming out of the turn and finished 6 ¼ lengths in front of Plenty of Sun, who had a half length on Teddy Time.

Trained by Mac Robertson, Hot Shot got his first win of the year in four starts, following a three-year-old season when he won five of nine races and was on the board seven times.

Hot Shot Kid is owned by Warren Bush.

YOU CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP

As the riders and horses came out of the turn for home in Saturday’s third race they had company on the racetrack.

Geese. A family of them

“There were four or five babies and three or four big ones,” said rider Ry Eikleberry. “They were headed from the outside rail to the inside.”

Undoubtedly for a swimming lesson in the infield pool.

In any event, the horses in the race saw them and took an interest, enough so that the racing stewards posted an inquiry to examine if the feathered creatures affected the outcome of the race. The decision was that they did not.

The riders are well aware of one particular goose who awaits them mornings at the gap during workouts. He made his way to his “perch” the other morning through a field but was spotted by jockey Dean Butler.

“It looked like he was coming from Cub (Foods),” Butler said.

The jockeys, who’ve named the goose “Chisholm”, said that the DNR has had representatives on hand to move the goose on a couple of occasions but they have been too late to spot him.

“We told them that he’s here in the mornings,” Butler added.

TEACHER’S PET

It’s funny the people you run into at the racetrack sometimes.

Star-Tribune handicapper Johnny Love was making his rounds on Saturday when he ran into an acquaintance: His son Julian’s former teacher at St. Mark’s grade school in St. Paul.

Accompanying Love in the paddock before the Turf Distaff was Katie Peterson, who taught Julian in the first, second and third grades, and her husband, Danny, along with a number of friends.

Love was delighted with Justify’s triple crown championship. “He’s better than American Pharoah,” he proclaimed. “He’s going up on my Mount Rushmore of horse racing.”

Horse Owners Gary and Brenda Bergsrud

Gary Bergsrud has been around horses his whole life. After watching his father train and run horses in Devils Lake, North Dakota, he knew he wanted to own horses one day. Bergsrud met his wife and partner Brenda (pictured above with jockey Santiago Gonzalez) at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Canada. He owned horses there and she was working for a trainer at the time. The couple went on to own horses together and include their son, T.J. Bergsrud, to manage their horses as well.

After purchasing horses for a few years, the Bergsrud decided to breed and raise their own. “The horses that we had been buying just didn’t work out and we thought we could raise better horses,” he said. Recent success has proven them right.

In July of 2007, Bergsrud came to Canterbury Park after being persuaded by his friend and fellow horse owner Bernell Rhone. “We wanted to run better horses and needed a higher level track to race them at,” Bergsrud said. His first horse to run at Canterbury Park, Alacazar, won and Bergsrud and his family have been entering their horses here ever since.

Sandra Sweere has been training the Bergsrud’s horses for the past five years. “Sandra has been very good for us and always does her best to meet our horses’ needs,” Gary said. The couple currently own four horses at Canterbury Park and commute from their home in Rolla, North Dakota to watch them race.

Bergsrud says that when owning a horse at any level it is important to “stay on top of things.”  He adds that “it can be very easy to get a little behind on the management side of things, but if you are dedicated enough it will all work out.”

To stay on top of things, Bergsrud checks in on the horses at least two times a week to see how they are doing. “We have little time to do anything besides taking care of our horses and that’s the way we like it,” Bergsrud said.

A favorite memory that Bergsrud has is seeing Pinup Girl win the $50,000 Lady Slipper Stakes race at Canterbury Park earlier this meet. “She and Santiago Gonzalez had a great ride here and we expect a big year for her,” he said.

Bergsrud’s favorite part about breeding his own horses is having the chance to see them develop and watch them run.  “The whole process can take a lot of time and energy, but it is all worth it when you see your horse win,” he said.

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.