Dorsett in Del Mar Derby

Dorsett - Mystic Lake Derby - 08-03-13 - R08 - CBY - Action FinishDorsett, winner of the 2013 Mystic Lake Derby, is 6-1 in the second division of the Grade II Del Mar Derby to be held today at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in California. Trained by Michael Stidham and owned by Terry Hamilton, Dorsett, 6-1 on the morning line, will be ridden by perennial top California rider Rafael Bejarano.

The $300,000 Grade II Derby closed with 23 entries and management split the race into two divisions worth $250,000 each. Dorsett will have his work cut out for him as he goes up against two rivals that have already defeated him this summer at Arlington. Infinite Magic, morning line favorite and winner of the American Derby, defeated Dorsett in that race back on July 13.

General Election is the other Chicago shipper. He defeated Dorsett back in May in the Arlington Classic. Neither Infinite Magic nor General Election has run since the American Derby.

Saddled with the outside post, Dorsett has his work cut out for him. However, drawing the services of a rider of Bejarano’s quality can only be viewed as a positive sign. Heading into racing today, Bejarano’s 43 wins on the meet is 17 clear of the next leading rider.

Dorsett continues a rather impressive parade of horses to ship out of Canterbury and into major races throughout the country this summer. Designer Legs, who broke her maiden at Canterbury for Gary Scherer on June 28, went on to win the Grade II Adirondack Stakes on August 11. Owned by Valene Farms, Designer Legs was placed first following a disqualification in the Adirondack.

Designer Legs runs in today’s Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga Race Course for trainer Dallas Stewart. Shaun Bridgmohan has the call.

Earlier this week, General Jack, winner of the 2013 Shakopee Juvenile was posted as the morning line favorite in the Grade II With Anticipation at Saratoga but was scratched.

General Jack in With Anticipation

General Jack - Shakopee Juvenile Stakes - 08-03-13 - R07 - CBY - Inside FinishGeneral Jack, winner of the inaugural Shakopee Juvenile Stakes – a part of of the 2013 Mystic Lake Derby card – is favored on the morning line in Thursday’s Grade II With Anticipation Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York. Trained by Michael Maker, General Jack will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik – unquestionably the top female jockey in North America.

General Jack shipped into Canterbury following a tough-luck second place finish in a Maiden Special Weight at Belmont on July 12 as the prohibitive favorite. The public took notice of his horrific trip in Elmont, NY and sent him to the post at 3/5 in the $100,000 Shakopee Juvenile. Under a patient ride by Victor Lebron, he left no doubt about his superiority drawing away to win by a widening three lengths.

Installed as the 5/2 favorite by NYRA morning line maker Eric Donovan, General Jack will be hooking up with a duo that he already ran against in his maiden race in 3rd place finisher Bashart (4-1 third choice) and winner Tiger Bourbon (3-1 second choice). It is evident that Donovan feels strongly about the group that finished 1-2-3 in that July 12 Maiden Special Weight at Belmont as they are the top three choices here. That trio was 7-lengths clear of the rest of the field back on July 12.

The 81 Beyer Speed Figure run by General Jack in the Shakopee Juvenile is 7 points superior to any other runner in the With Anticipation. Out of the multiple graded stakes winner J’Ray who did her best work at 9 furlongs and by Giant’s Causeway, General Jack’s pedigree suggests that he should thrive in the 8.5 furlong With Anticipation.

One tip for the live racing fans, take a good look at this race and note how General Jack performs. Chairman Crooks, the runner-up in the Shakopee Juvenile, comes back to the races in an allowance race on Friday night and is likely to be prohibitively favored. General Jack’s performance could give you a good indication as to Chairman Crook’s chances.

TWO GRADED STAKES WINNERS AT SARATOGA?

General Jack will attempt to become the second horse with Canterbury connections to win a graded race at Saratoga during the 2013 meet. Designer Legs, who broke her maiden at Canterbury for Gary Scherer on June 28, went on to win the Grade II Adirondack Stakes on August 11. Owned by Valene Farms, Designer Legs was placed first following a disqualification in the Adirondack.

Designer Legs is working toward the Grade I Spinaway Stakes which will be held this Sunday at Saratoga Race Course. Entries for the Spinaway will be taken tomorrow.

Canterbury horses have shipped around the country with success in the past; however, two graded stakes victories at one of – if not the – best race meets in North America would be unprecedented.

CONNECTIONS ON BOTH COASTS

Canterbury connections haven’t been restricted to the east coast this summer. Delegation, runner-up in the 2012 Mystic Lake Derby, ran sixth in last Saturday’s Grade I Pacific Classic at Del Mar beaten only a length for second behind runaway winner and current top handicap horse in North America Game On Dude.

Additionally, the two-year-old daughter of Canterbury Hall of Famer Glitter Star, debuted at Del Mar on August 18 running a solid third.

UPDATE (8/29 – 10:15AM): General Jack was scratched from the race this morning. No word yet as to the reason.

Race of the Week: Jim Dandy

saratoga merchandise logo 2013-thumb-350x134-14313What was billed to be a showdown between the three Triple Crown race winners this spring only contains one, but brings much diversity in a ten horse package. Its runners made their last starts in Iowa, Maryland, New York and Kentucky – Most of the usual suspects but not always this many off layoffs. A traditional prep for the Travers, this race has been dominated by Todd Pletcher in recent times. Per usual, “We’re not just using this as a prep,” comes about but the horse’s best shot of the summer will no doubt come down the road. Without anyone willing to dominate the three year old ranks this year, why not make a case for a few others?

1. Bashaar – My Iowa Derby selection ran his race but left himself too much to do in the stretch (as usual.) He possesses a nice kick and gets the services of Castellano, but that fact in itself may draw a little too much money this way for what he’s actually accomplished. Peitz has not sent a horse to Saratoga since 2009, but even when he ran frequently he has not won at the spa in the past five years. The barn got plenty of pieces along the way but they did so with some good horses. Bashaar’s been preparing over polytrack for his first crack at Saratoga dirt, which may not greet him as much of a different surface than Prairie Meadows with the way it’s played early in the meet. There are other closers with better form against better company so demand a price if this is the corner you stand in.

2. Code West – I am usually a supporter of the west coast contingent but this horse just isn’t for me. He seems to have settled in out east a tad better than in California, but has failed his two Grade 2 tests to date. Yes, he only lost by a nose in one of them but Ive Struck a Nerve was a BOMB and was done after that. Rosario takes the mount but where are his other options in here? He’s a use underneath but this horse will not be on top of many of my tickets if any.

3. Will Take Charge – Lukas dances every dance. So why didn’t this horse dance after the Rebel? Yes, he didn’t need to to make the Derby but that was such an atypical Lukas move that I can’t see things 180-ing here. He had his share of traffic problems along the Triple Crown trail but the margins of defeat were far more than checking & bumping. The blood is there but the consistency is not. With only two published works since June you have to wonder what is going on… he’s run well fresh but breaking your maiden off the shelf is a heck of a lot different than winning the Jim Dandy.

4. Moreno – He’s another that’s made big improvement changing coasts, but if a horse can break his maiden then take a Grade 2 the quality of that field must be questioned. I wasn’t overly-thrilled with the Dwyer but the blinkers definitely added a new gear to a horse that struggled with maidens repeatedly out west. There are too many sharp connections in this field to let this horse get away up front….right? Freedom Child, in particular, may make life difficult for this son of Ghostzapper. These last two efforts of his were not baby steps either… they were leaps forward. If the hot hand is what you seek this is your animal.

5. Palace Malice – He’s easy to find on paper with the Pletcher/Smith tandem… and oh yeah, that win in the Belmont. Looks like he hasn’t lost a beat in the mornings but again, this is not the end of the line in summer stakes for any of these. Was the Belmont the exception or the new rule? Winners of the Belmont by Curlin don’t need me to boast their credentials. He’ll be the favorite and deservedly so.

6. Perfect Title – He’s one that I’m not unduly familiar with outside of watching replays of his races, so he may be one to watch on the tote board. I’m not a huge Dallas Stewart devotee but he’s another in the field that liked that new set of blinkers last time. The final time was nothing heart-stopping, but his professionalism in biding his time is a good sign for any looking for bombs. The other connections should sound very familiar, and it seems that he gets along with Bridgemohan better than any other pilot that’s been aboard. I’m not necessarily saying this is one to be included in all plays but stranger things have happened at the spa in its brief 2013 season.

7. Freedom Child – Which version do we get today? It’s hard to call horses of his obvious class and ability one dimensional, but he’s gone about his two wins in near identical fashion. He strikes me as one that still has plenty of growing up to do and may be a little more effective when he gains some tractability. That’s not to say he couldn’t run them off their feet in here (especially if Moreno decides to sit back), but his race could be over out of the gate. Saez has had a rough go of it in the early part of Saratoga, as to a degree has Albertrani. Both are due to get rolling at some point. He’s one that I don’t discount, but he’ll be an all-or-nothing sort of play in here. If playing vertically, he’d only be on the top of my tickets. He’s got a nice steady string of works to prepare for this, and one that’ll be on my radar for a while down the road as he continues to develop.

8. Mylute – Quite the opposite story comes with Mylute than FC, as he’s become much too consistent to leave out vertically. He’s usually a good price too for some reason, and a horse with his sort of versatility should enjoy the post he’s drawn. Rosie can get a good gauge of what’s going on up front, and take advantage if the pace gets dawdling. While his pedigree on the surface doesn’t scream for distance, Midnight Lutes are showing that they can handle just about anything thrown their way and this colt is a great example. Look at how many venues and distances he’s taken on…..and despite the two wins he’s still the second leading money-earner in the field. He’s no win machine but don’t these types usually get their moment in the sun… once?

9. Looking Cool – He got the jump on Bashaar in the Iowa Derby and pulled the upset at 17-1, but the water gets deeper for them both. Hard to doubt Carl Nafzger and how he handles these classy Tafel runners, but this is taking an awfully big bite. Prado has been unlucky in his limited starts at the Spa but should fit this versatile runner well. He’s still got a lot to prove.

10. Vyjack – His much publicized issues are hopefully over with. All the talent in the world but his momentum really came to a halt this spring. He was able to stretch his speed nicely in the winter but became very familiar with the groups of horses he beat up, as they rarely changed. Nice to see Velazquez take the mount on a fresh and obviously sharp horse, but has the pack caught up to him in the talent column? Seems like it. On his best day he’s a tiger but who’s to say that all of the wrinkles have been ironed out? He’s a chance I’ll be taking in horizontal wagers but don’t accept a short price.

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann serves as the Track Analyst for Hawthorne Racecourse in Cicero, Illinois and the summer of 2013 marks her third year in a similar capacity at Canterbury Park.

Mister Mardi Gras in Mile

Mister Marti Gras - Mystic Lake Mile - 07-13-13 - R08 - CBY - Under Rail Finish (1)The long awaited rains finally arrived Saturday morning, bringing to mind once more the time-worn admonition – be careful of what you wish for.

Horsemen, riders and even track management had hoped for rain to brighten up the yellowing turf course that was hardening day by day the past few weeks. With two premier races scheduled on the grass Saturday, the hope was that skies would open in time to deliver the perfect racing surface for Saturday’s three stakes races.

The feature events on this stellar card were the $100,000-guaranteed Lady Canterbury Stakes, the $125,000-guaranteed Mystic Lake Mile and the $54,100 Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby.

The first two were scheduled on the turf – until mid morning on Saturday when it was determined that more than 4 and 1/4 inches of rain in three hours had rendered the grass course unusable.

The connections of five horses in each the Lady Canterbury and the Mystic Lake Mile decided that if the course was unusable their horses were too and reduced the 12- horse fields accordingly.

In absolutely bizarre twists, the fields were reduced further by events Stephen King might use at some point.

Before the 21st running of the Lady Canterbury, Lava Girl’s stirrup came loose and she was impaled by the iron. Then Smarty B bled warming up for the race and was scratched. “It sucks,” said rider Scott Stevens. “I’ve never had anything like this happen before.”

There was more to come, in the Mystic Lake Mile. Derby Kitten, third choice in the race, stumbled at the start and unseated Chris Landeros, depriving Ken and Sarah Ramsey and Landeros a sweep of the two thoroughbred stakes.

The Lady Canterbury set up perfectly for Awesome Flower and Landeros. “We just sat there and bided our time,” he said.

Awesome Flower stalked the pace early, moved up outside three horses to make her bid on the far turn and then dug in over the final 1/8th to win by ½ length over Bryan’s Jewel and 2 ¾ over Kune Kune, covering the mile in 1:37.54 over a fast track.

The inaugural running of the Mystic Lake Mile lost all of the speed upfront with the loss of Hammers Terror and Slip and Drive, the one-two finishers in the Brooks Fields Stakes.

Thus, Mister Marti Gras (pictured above) stalked the leaders in a pedestrian pace, saving ground on the run down the backside, and moved up at the eighth pole outside four others and finished ¾ length in front of Stachys, another head in front of Wild Jacob. The winning time was 1:38.

Winning owner Robert Lothenbach said in the winner’s circle afterward that he intends to bring four to six horses to Canterbury next week and maybe more later on.

Queried by paddock analyst Angela Hermann, Lothenbach said he is making the move because he likes Canterbury and the increase in purses here, thanks to the agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

$54,100 CANTERBURY QUARTER HORSE DERBY

Stacy Charette-Hill is still puzzled and tickled pink every time she lands in the winner’s circle, which is nearly every time she saddles a horse.

Her barn not only leads all others, it dominates.

Take the feature event on Saturday. The expression on her face said it all.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Her horses finished one-two-three and her barn cleaned up once more.

“This is unbelievable,” said her husband, Randy Hill, upon entering the winner’s circle.

It wasn’t even the fastest qualifier of the three who won on Saturday. It was HR Ebony Princess ridden by Ry Eikleberry.

“She’s unbelievable,” he said. “Her barn wins at about 70 percent and is in the money 80 percent of the time.”

The first two finishers are owned by Bobby and Vickie Hammer of Elmore City, Oklahoma. The winner had a touching story. “Her mother bled out giving her birth,” said Bobby, “and she was raised by a cuttin’ horse mare.”

“She was bigger than the mare,” said Vickie.

HR Ebony Princess underwent surgery for a chipped knee and was laid up for more than five months. She has found her stride once again.

HR Money Maker, the fastest qualifier in the trials, was second and First Price Wagon was third.

THOROUGHBRED EXCELLENCE ON THE BACKSIDE

Trainer Ian Wilkes was on the Canterbury Park backside Saturday morning overseeing matters for the arrival of four Lothenbach horses scheduled for Monday.

Wilkes, who saddled Fort Larned, the reigning Breeders Cup Classic winner, has been in Shakopee before, the first time when Unbridled ran second in the Canterbury Juvenile the year before he won the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders Cup Classic. He was also here to saddle a horse named Fluffkins.

It is quite natural that the name Carl Nafzger comes immediately to mind with the mention of those two horses. Wilkes worked as his assistant until Nafzger turned over the operation to him in 2006.

Wilkes plans to run four of Lothenbach’s horses at Canterbury. One of his assistants will oversee the operation in Shakopee. “I’ll be stopping by from time to time,” Wilkes said.

The remainder of Wilkes’ operation was in transit to Saratoga in upstate New York where the Nation’s premier thoroughbred meet gets underway this Friday.

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.

2012 Pennsylvania Derby: The Rematch

Round two commences at Parx on Saturday in the Grade 2, $1 Million Pennsylvania Derby. Alpha and Golden Ticket stand as the only two entrants coming from the Travers and as a result, will take the lion’s share of betting action on in the Derby. Making a case for others entered is for the most part a stretch, but a dark horse or two can be found in the field of eight.

1. Stephanoatsee – Many times lofty expectations get put on a horse with this kind of pedigree. Stephanoatsee is a half to Shackleford and three other stakes winners, but thus far hasn’t lived up to his siblings’ billing. He only has five lifetime starts, and has only missed the board in one… but this would still be asking a lot off a win in a four horse field.

2. Casual Trick – A victim of the Derby Trail this spring, Casual Trick makes his return to stakes company on a two race win streak. A breathing problem hampered the Bernardini colt this summer, but Nick Zito’s colt appears to be a new horse after two route wins at Parx. He was a $425,000 purchase two years ago. Stablemate Fast Falcon gets the nod against older horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, but the barn’s confidence shows in stepping CT up. Gets a class test, but being the only local winner intrigues this handicapper.

3. Handsome Mike – Has the look of one that hasn’t moved forward from two to three. Turf treated him well on the west coast at two, but the pool of juvenile turf runners in California wasn’t exactly the deepest last year. Reddam has had plenty of success this year with three-year olds but this isn’t one of them. An owner that likes to dance every dance, but appears in deep.

4. Alpha – The slight favorite also rides a win streak into this for McLaughlin. Sure looked like he was going to pass Golden Ticket with a few more feet but settled for a tie in the Travers. He’s always showed promise but nagging injuries and a loathing for the gate have held him from being the dominant three-year old in America. With the classic winners enjoying retirement, it appears to be his division to take. He finally gets three races in a row without a layoff as well, and off two bullet works it appears all systems are go.

5. Junebugred – Steve Hobby’s horse isn’t exactly entering the Pennsylvania Derby with his best races in tow. Similar to Handsome Mike in coming to hand early and not progressing through his three-year old year. He’s been ambitiously placed in grade one and grade three company this year to no avail. Would need a lot of off races by the competition to make noise here.

6. Golden Ticket – The other half of the dead heat draws outside of Alpha this time. Ran his lifetime best by a mile in the Travers and did so off a hefty layoff. That was also his first fast-dirt victory, so was it a one-race wonder or has he improved that much? Was the Travers that questionable? I didn’t find it the toughest renewal but winning an 11-horse grade one race is never an easy task. He’s performed well in all scenarios (Turf, dirt, and poly), so there’s no reason to think Parx will present him a surface challenge. He still needs to show up as the Travers winner and not the runner-up in a shaky Tampa Bay Derby. We’ll see.

7. Csaba – This just isn’t my type of horse. Seven of his races (Three of his four victories) have been taken off the turf, though at one time he was tested on the Kentucky Derby trail. He took a womping in the Fountain of Youth, and then promptly returned to his on-again-off-again campaign on the grass. The Hall of Fame was a nice effort, but set up for him quite nicely with the track surface and pace setup. Unless he’s left alone on a crawling pace, this will be a challenge.

8. Macho Macho – The only other graded winner in the field was flattered by Bourbon Courage’s win in the Super Derby. Asmussen shelved the West Virginia Derby winner since August in preparation for this, and hasn’t missed the board with him since turned over from Neil Howard. He’s taken a different route to get to this race but seems to be cranked pretty tight off a strong string of works. The son of Macho Uno hit the track 9 days after his WV Derby win, and has worked a total of six times since the race. He’s a versatile sort that should be able to make a trip for himself from the outside post. Possible value to be found here.

It appears Alpha’s race to lose, but will his gate antics get the best of him? Who do you think will step up? Feel free to comment on the Pennsylvania Derby and join us for a stakes-filled card at Parx! First post is 11:25 Central, we’ll see you right out here at the Park.

This blog was written by Canterbury Paddock Analyst Angela Hermann. Angela Hermann is just completed her second year as Canterbury’s Paddock Analyst after previously serving in a similar role at Lincoln Racecourse and Columbus Ag Park. She blogs about both local and National racing.