She took one look over her shoulder, gave her mount a stout reminder with the stick and cruised home, much the best in the biggest race of the season, the history of Canterbury Park for that matter.
Everything unfolded much as it did last season, with one major exception.
“No inquiry,” said the woman of the hour, Lori Keith, who has been aboard the first two winners of the first two Mystic Lake Derbys.
That’s right, the winning owner, winning trainer and winning rider of the inaugural Derby last year, won Saturday’s second running, breaking from the same No. 2 hole in an eight-horse field, just as last year. But for more money,
The race offered $162,000 and change last year. It was worth $200,000 this time around, $120,000 of that to the winning horse.
Gladly missing from Ms. Keith’s point of view was the interminable wait that accompanied last year’s race after her horse veered in front of the second place horse in the final 50 yards.
The stewards decided in her favor, ruling that the infraction did not change the order of finish but gave Ms. Keith days nonetheless for what occurred.
None of that on Saturday.
Keith began moving her horse, Dorsett, heading into the turn behind Coastal Breeze after that one made a bold move. The eventual winner swept past Coastal Breeze as if he were taking a nap. Dorsett cruised into the stretch, passing horses as if he were a Porsche in the fast lane of a freeway.
Much the best.
A bystander asked Keith when she felt the race was hers. “Actually, I felt confident the whole way,” she said. “I had a ton of horse all the way.”
A push-button colt as it were.
“This colt has gotten better and better,” said trainer Michael Stidham. “He’s better as a three-year-old than he was at two. The rider – Lori – did a great job, too.” The owner of the horse, Terry Hamilton, was not present but made it known some time ago that it was his goal to win another Mystic Lake Derby. Consider that goal accomplished.
Dorsett, a son of Artie Schiller from Dontgetnmyway, had three lengths on Coast Breeze and Channing Hill at the wire, 4 and ½ on Impassable Canyon and Victor Lebron, finishing in 1:35.69.
Afterward in the winner’s circle, Keith wrapped up in a stunning hand-made quilt from the Mdewakanton Sioux Community, whose purse contributions at Canterbury included $150,000 for this race alone.
The Star quilt is a traditional Dakota blanket that symbolizes life, spirituality and community and is given to mark major milestones.
This was indeed a milestone, for Canterbury, its relationship with Mystic Lake, for Hamilton, Stidham and, of course, for Ms. Keith.
$100,000 SHAKOPEE JUVENILE
The focus in this one was on a two-year-old named Chairman Crooks, ridden by Dean Butler, trained by tony Rengstorf and owned by Curtis Sampson.
The horse was named to honor the late Stanley Crooks, Chairman of the Mdewakanton Sioux Community at Mystic Lake with a nod also to his father, Norman, the tribe’s first chairman.
Several dignitaries from the community were present for the race, and they saw a good showing by the horse named for their former leaders. Chairman Crooks acquitted himself nicely, finishing second to the 3/5 favorite General Jack, a ship-in from Belmont Park, whose stretch effort provided a three-length win.
General Jack, a son of Giant’s Causeway, was much the best in this one. “We wanted the lead but when that horse took it we let him have it,” said winning rider Victor Lebron. “We went to plan B. I relaxed my horse and he finished strongly.”
The winner finished second in his only other start, at Belmont Park. So he broke his maiden in $100,000 race.
Owner Tom Conway knew he had a good one after General Jack hung on to finish second in New York. “He hit the gate and got bumped three or four times during the race,” Conway said. “He had the lead, got bumped and fell back.”
Nothing of the kind on Saturday.
General Jack surged through the stretch to a three-length win over Chairman Crooks, 4 and ¼ in front of AP is Loose and Ms Keith, with a winning time of 1:29.70.
$100,000 NORTHBOUND PRIDE OAKS
What a race!
Drama, excitement, suspense, investigations.
When it was done, Alex Canchari, the Minnesota Kid, had the biggest win of his young career aboard Stoupinator, owned by Joseph Novogratz of Excelsior and trained by Mac Robertson.
“That was a great ride,” said Robertson assistant Bradley Hedges. “That kid has a nice set of hands. He can ride.”
When the hullabaloo was complete, Stoupinator was the winner by a head over Seeking Treasure who was a head in front of Kipling’s Joy and Raising Dakota who finished in a Dead Heat.
A massive investigation by the stewards, paralleled perhaps only by the Watergate investigation, changed the official order, however.
Thus, Stoupinator did no wrong and kept the win. However, Seeking Treasure, was disqualified from second and placed sixth for interference, meaning that Kipling’s Joy and Raising Dakota moved up from third and dead-heated for second and I’m Already Sexy finished fourth.
The race also included a bit of drama before it started. Jockey Luis Garcia, on Raising Dakota, had not signed his license application with the Minnesota Racing Commission and was called up in front of the grandstand.
A racing official arrived with the document. Garcia jumped off his horse and signed his name, remounted and – as mentioned – wound up running second.
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.