BY JIM WELLS
He handled Doc Hollywood and Dramatic Desire, galloped Hall of Fame filly Turbo Launch, has vivid memories of Forkintheroad and those early, heady days of Minnesota racing. He cut his teeth in the business alongside Steve Asmussen and Richie Scherer.
Tyrone Shaw has been around the horse business for quite some time. He was here galloping horses in 1986, the second year of racing in Shakopee, learning the ins and outs of the business from the ground up. He worked for Bernie Flint at Canterbury in those earlier years and hung out with Joe Petalino, who oversaw the Jack Van Berg barn.
He kept returning to Canterbury in this capacity or that until business began to falter during the first go-round of racing that ended abruptly in 1992. Then, three years ago, Shaw returned to the track where he got his trainer’s license, won his first race and for which he still retains fond memories of those halcyon days.
Oh, and there is, of course, his sideline career. He played Squeaky, the exercise rider, in the film Ruffian, the exquisite but ill-fated filly, and he had parts in Prison Break and Sweet Hearts Dance.
Shaw and his fiancée, Cindy Applegate, both worked the backside in Canterbury’s bygone days and were aware of one another, but their official introduction took place at Oaklawn Park several years ago. They arrived in Shakopee this spring with four horses.
Sunday, Shaw will saddle Heisenberg, the best of his barn yet a morning line outsider at 20-1, in the $100,000 Mystic Lake Mile. Is he giving this horse, winner of the second smallest career earnings in the field with $91,500, a bite of more than he can chew, in a field that includes Aztec Brave, a winner of two 100 grand races and a very close _ by a nose, finisher in two others? And also Nun the Less, winner of the Mystic Lake Derby last year and a frequent runner against graded stakes winners?
“Oh, it’s a real tough one,” Shaw agreed, “but that’s the only way to find out if a horse can compete.”
The issue brought to mind another time for Shaw, when he suggested to the owner of a horse that they try him on the grass in allowance company despite the fact he had been running in non-winners of two at $7,500. Shaw was merely handling the horse in Shakopee for the trainer of record Glenn Wismer.
The horse was Doc Hollywood and Shaw immediately got an irate call from the trainer questioning the decision in no uncertain terms.
Yet, Doc Hollywood won on the grass that day and ran in more esteemed company thereafter. “That’s where he belonged, on the grass,” Shaw said. “It was there on his mother’s side.”
Shaw’s logic was sound that time, and he hopes it is again with Heisenberg, who last ran and won on May 22 at Canterbury for $20,000, improving his career statistics to 4-4-2 from 15 career starts.
“He’s an older, bigger and improved horse, more knowledgeable about racing now,” Shaw said. “He was too aggressive in some of his earlier races and got caught at the 16th pole. He’s more relaxed now and takes his time.”
Shaw should know. He does all of his own exercising.
A native of New Orleans, Shaw was in high school when he was hired to help in the pressbox at the Fair Grounds, sending results to the Times Picayune. “Then Joe Hirsch started teaching me call taking for the Racing Form.” He has worked as a rider agent, a valet and on the gate crew. “I’ve done it all,” he added. “Just about anything you can find on the racetrack. But for the last eight years I’ve just been training.”
At one time he worked horses for Valene Farms and any number of other Minnesota operations. His connections to Canterbury and Minnesota Racing are many. “I got my first winner as a trainer here,” he added. The horse’s name alone pretty much sums Shaw’s thoughts on the role racing has played in his life: Chanceofalifetime.
TAKE A BOW MAC ROBERTSON
Trainer Mac Robertson is Canterbury Park’s all time lead in earnings, win percentage, in the money percentage, most earnings in a season and in the money percentage for a season.
He reached another milestone Saturday, saddling Thunder and Honey, the winner of the seventh race and Robertson’s career 1,000th. Before the day was over, he had win number 1,003 from 4,416 starts and earnings of $23.5 million..
Robertson was briefly lionized in the winner’s circle afterward, his picture taken with a sign documenting the occasion, and a brief interview was conducted with track announcer Paul Allen that included some of the trainer’s most repeated words:
Why did he become a trainer?
“Because I like horses better than I do people,” he said.
His horses frequently return the compliment…on the racetrack.
Robertson’s second winner on the card was Honey’s Sox Appeal, making a prophet (or was it profit?) of owner Bob Lindgren, who also owns Thunder and Honey.
“Keep your eye on my two half sisters who are running today,” Lindgren said. “Yes,” a bystander added, “that could be quite a story.”
It was__ for trainer and owner.