Two of a Kind?

Heliskier has been dominant in all four career starts, sparking conversation about how good he might be compared to other Minnesota-breds in recent history. The name that immediately is mentioned in comparison is Crocrock (pictured above).

While it would be premature to compare Heliskier at this point to the accomplishments of the great Crocrock, the path Heliskier has taken thus far is remarkably similar to that of Crocrock in 1999 and 2000. When comparing the measuring stick that many use in this sport, the Beyer Speed Figure, Heliskier is on a trajectory to be one of the best Minnesota-breds of all time.

First, Crocrock’s accomplishments: the son of North Prospect, bred and owned by Dale Schenian, won 16 of 42 starts and $359,977 in purses. Fourteen of his wins came at Canterbury Park where he is the all-time leading money earner at the Shakopee racetrack with $340,452 in earnings.

His stakes wins include the MTA Stallion Laddie, Victor Myers, MN Derby, the MN Sprint Championship four times and the 10,000 Lakes twice.

Crocrock began his career at two by winning the $27,000 MTA Stallion Laddie on Aug. 1, 1999 with a Beyer Speed Figure of 54. Heliskier was victorious in his 2-year-old debut, with a 55 Beyer on Aug. 13, 2011, in a state-bred maiden special weight.

Both made their next and final start of their 2-year-old seasons in the Northern Lights Futurity. Crocrock finished second with a 53 Beyer, Heliskier won by 10 lengths with a 71.

Crocrock, trained by Francisco Bravo, returned to the races May 21, 2000, winning a five and one-half furlong 3-year-0ld MN-bred N2L with a 55 Beyer fig. Heliskier faced older horses June 10 of this year in a six-furlong N3L and again won by double-digit lengths, earning a lofty 94 Beyer.

The logical race for a quality MN-bred 3-year-old in the spring is the Victor Myers Stakes at six furlongs, and the connections of both knew that was the race to win and both Crocrock and Heliskier delivered. Crocrock won by a nose with a 66 Beyer and Heliskier by four lengths with an 88.

What trainer Mac Robertson owner Marlene Colvin do next with Heliskier will all play out as the meet unfolds. Bravo sent Crocrock long after the Myers in a route rained off the turf. He finished second but went on the capture the Minnesota Derby at one mile and seventy yards, and finally the MN Sprint Championship at the end of the season.

Crocrock is a Canterbury Park Hall of Fame horse. He broke the 90 Beyer barrier four times in his career. He may be the last horse that, and Heliskier can garner the same attention if he continues to win, race fans made a special trip to the track to watch. Crocrock was must-see racing.

This blog was written by Canterbury Media Relations Manager Jeff Maday. Maday has filled multiple positions including Media Relations and Player Relations Manager since the track’s reopening in 1995.

Heliskier & Happy Hour Honey Win Stakes

Sometimes life is fair. Sometimes the world spins on its axis, like a giant roulette wheel, and the numbers come up just right. Yes, Virginia, there is a God!

You can’t debate any of those propositions after Saturday’s stakes races for Minnesota-bred horses. Not only were these state-breds running for $50,000, as they once did, there were results that brought congratulatory wishes of the sincerest form from even the also-rans.

How can anyone be displeased about a Paul Knapper-owed horse winning the Frances Genter Stakes. How can anyone feel anything but joy for Marlene Colvin, whose Heliskier (pictured above) put on another commanding performance to win the Victor S Myers Stakes.

Knapper has been part of the Canterbury scene since 1985 and the state racing industry years before that, as primarily a quarter horse breeder and owner. He was part of the effort that brought racing to Minnesota in the first place, and Saturday his one and only thoroughbred in training got up in the final jumps to claim a check for 30 grand. Knapper owned and bred the horse with Bob Lindgren, who celebrated his first stakes victory while Knapper celebrated the biggest win of his career.

Joking in the paddock before the race, Kapper kidded about their horse, Happy Hour Honey, and the naming process. “She’s so happy and always has been,” he said. “Besides that, Bob’s never missed a happy hour.”

Dean Butler was aboard Happy Hour and hit the pedal on her in the final 1/16th to finished 1 and ¾ lengths in front of Go Go Jill and Scott Stevens. It was another length back to 3-2 favorite Keewatin Ice.

“I almost started to cry (in the winner’s circle),” Lindgren said.

“I probably will when I see the replay,” Knapper added.

By Leroidesanimaux out of A J’s Honey, Happy Hour Honey is now 2-1-2 from six career starts and has a 50 grand career bankroll after the win. “She’s a very well-bred horse,” said trainer Bernell Rhone, “and had the high speed in a speed race. She didn’t break well, but got her feet under her.”

Which was Knapper’s immediate concern as he watched the break. “She broke flat-footed and her head came up,” he said. “She usually goes right out to the front.”

It was a three-horse race in the stretch run, with Happy Hour Honey, Go Go Jill and Keewatin Ice nearly shoulder to shoulder, until Happy Hour stretched out and took charge.

Shortly after the race, Knapper, his wife, Melita, her son, Joe, and grandson Peyton gathered near a television monitor. Peyton, 18 months old, already rides some of the horses in from pasture, bareback. Melita displayed a picture of him at Canterbury, Daily Racing Form in hand. “He’s addicted,” she said.

There was a more pressing concern at that precise moment, however.

“He needs his diaper changed,” she said.

Then there was Heliskier, the most remarkable state-bred horse in years, simply toying with five rivals. Marlene Colvin stood in the paddock before the race, analyzing her horse’s merits. He was the last horse bred and broken by her late husband, Robert, or “Bun” as the world knew him.

“This is really bittersweet,” she said, shortly before Derek Bell climbed aboard her horse. Bun died a year ago last Dec. 10 after telling his wife he just might postpone retirement to train the horse. The next month she sent the horse to long-time friend Mac Robertson in Hot Springs, Ark., to begin his training on the track.

He won by four lengths in 1:09 and 2/5 Saturday without Bell so much as touching the whip. “He just gallops out there,” Bell said “He does everything so effortlessly.”

Heliskier is now 4-for-4 and inspired so much confidence that someone plopped down over $150,000 grand to win in the final click on the tote board, bringing the win pool to a Canterbury Park first $224,795. Officially, Heliskier was 1-20.

Bell recalled something the horse’s breeder said about his final thoroughbred. “He said he was the best one he’d ever been on,” Bell said.

Marlene looked skyward in the winner’s circle. “He’s still telling us that,” she said.

WIENER DOGS GET THEIR DAY

After getting washed out – more exactly, mudded out – last week, the Wiener dogs got their qualifying heat in on Saturday’s card and the winner was…

Roxy Glamour Princess, owned by Kim and Layne Poppovich of New Richmond, Wis., weighs 13 pounds and is 21 inches long. “Roxy isn’t afraid of competition,” Kim said as part of her owner insight. “When she isn’t modeling clothes, she wrestles her 85-pound German Shorthair brother.”

Saturday, she “wrestled” a field of nine opponents. The second place dog was Charlie Brown, a seven-pound, 14-inch model owned by Dustin and Crystal Brown of Appleton, Minn.

Saturday’s top two advance to the final on July 4. Four more qualifying rounds are scheduled for Sunday.

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.