The rain that inundated Shakopee and the turf course at Canterbury Park in particular on Saturday morning had a devastating effect on a premier presentation of racing scheduled for the day. When the turf course began to take on water faster than the Titantic, the Lady Canterbury and the inaugural Mystic Lake Mile were moved to the main track, and horses started scratching faster than a 10-year-old with poison ivy.
Meanwhile another event scheduled on Saturday was in danger of being scratched, too, and Susie Sola hit the panic button after receiving a call from Pastor Ed Underwood.
Even pastor Ed couldn’t part the onrushing water or build an ark quick enough to get a wedding party into the stable area chapel, and Moses and his divine walking stick were nowhere to be found. The water was up to the front door and beyond. You might consider re-scheduling the wedding for another day, Susie was told.
Susie and jockey Mark Luark were scheduled to be married in the chapel but there was absolutely no way that could happen on Saturday, and Susie was not about to reschedule.
“I don’t wear a dress very often,” she said, “and I already had mine on. There was no way I was going to take it off and put it on again another day.”
So, the wedding was moved to the paddock, and the wedding party scheduled afterward was moved from the chapel to the stable area kitchen after the Saturday races.
It wasn’t as planned, but it turned out better than anticipated after the shocking call from pastor Ed.
“We had about 45 people, coming in and out at the reception,” Susie said. Not as many as expected but not bad either under the circumstances.
Thus, the wedding took place, not entirely as planned, but as scheduled on the 13th day of July in the year of 2013 and in the midst of the happy couple’s 13th year together.
Luark was born in Phoenix and raised primarily in Colorado. Sola is a Cornhusker through and through.
Mark had just finished a meet in Arizona and moved his tack to Lincoln, Neb., when the couple first met.
Luark’s father was a jockey and then a trainer and exercise rider after retiring from raceriding. Sola’s parents are trainers.
That was one more reason for not postponing Saturday’s nuptials. Susie’s mother and father and friends had made the drive from Grand Island, Neb., to be present for the ceremony.
Melanie Miller, quarter horse trainer Shane Miller’s wife, stood up for Susie. So did Susie’s 17-year-old daughter, Shelby. Jockey Stormy Smith was best man for Luark. Mark and Susie’s 9-year-old son, Andrew, better known as Bucko, backed up Smith.
Luark, 37, started riding at age 16 and has competed at most of the tracks throughout the southwest. He first came to Canterbury in 2002. He rode in Shakopee last season too, the only time he has ridden consecutive meets locally.
Luark and Sola made the decision to marry on a return trip from Boise about three weeks ago. “She just brought it up,” said Luark, “but we had talked about it before.”
It seemed the natural thing to do after so many years together, the past 10 or so as a business team as well. Susie handles Mark’s book. She is his agent. As such she is not permitted to join him in winner’s circle pictures after he rides a winning horse. Saturday was an exception after Mark brought in the winner of the final race on the card.
“We were hoping he might win the stakes race before that,” Susie said.”I think maybe I jinxed him by expecting him to win. I figured I had the green light to join him after he won the last race, though.”
Although not perfectly according to plan, a wonderful day nonetheless, one they’ll never forget. How could they, it was on 13-13-13.
That brings us to Mark’s best man, Shane Miller. He and Melanie were married on Kentucky Derby day. “He told me a couple of times that he’d never forget the date of his wedding either,” said Lurak.”It’s Kentucky Derby day. I finally told him he was a knot head. The Derby is always the first Saturday in May, but it’s not always the same date.”
It’s always at the same track though if that helps any.
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.