The humidity draped over Shakopee Saturday afternoon like a damp garment clinging to every available inch of a person’s torso, making it difficult to breathe, think clearly or drink more than two or three cups of hot coffee at a time.
How to describe such a day?
The term ‘oppressive’ comes to mind. Or how about a long-respected Minnesota term, ‘sticky.’ Or as mother always used to say, ‘it certainly is close.’
Without a nice southerly breeze, as pointed out by the press-box’s Jilique Eikleberry, it might best have been described as ‘gross.’
It was our introduction this summer to something known throughout time as the ‘dog days,’ a baffling term to anyone familiar with man’s best friends.
Nonetheless, mankind is determined to blame anything disgusting on the family pet.
For what it’s worth, Sunday’s weather is expected to be warmer and clammier.
The horses were having none of it as an excuse Saturday and went about their business as if it were any other day, with appropriate attention from their grooms and their water hoses.
Only Annie Peach, ridden by Ry Eikleberry and trained by Minnesota conditioner Percy Scherbenske, was the first winner on the card in a $30,000 sprint for maidens. Hall of Fame rider Scott Stevens brought in the next winner, for Phoenix trainer Mike Chambers, a mare called Sixtysixmargaux.
The true highlight of the day, however, was race three, the Alvin Goebel Memorial, dedicated to one of the founders of Minnesota racing.
Friends and acquaintances gathered in the President’s Lounge at Canterbury to honor Alvin (pictured above with wife Marlys), who died in January, 2012, having raised and raced horses for 70 years.
Many of those very people along with others familiar with the Goebels, were pulling for a horse named Speakers Action in race two, a mare once owned by Alvin and Marlys but now flying the colors of Tom and Karen Metzen and David Van Winkle.
It was perhaps appropriate that the third race, honoring Mr. Goebel, was won by Blumin Sweetheart, a 2-year-old filly trained by Canterbury Park’s newest member of the 500 wins club for trainers, Mac Robertson.
Announcer Richard Grunder, filling in for Paul Allen who was attending to his duties as the voice of the Minnesota Vikings, gave an account of his first encounter with the Goebels. “It was 1970,” he said. “I was a senior in high school and was at Assiniboia Downs.”
Indeed, Grunder was the track announcer for the Minnesota Derby, held at Assiniboia in those days, from 1975 to 1982.
The two horses from the Goebels’ stable he remembers best were In Moderation and Careless Navigator. Needless to say, there were countless others.
Grunder recalls watching In Moderation during workouts. “She was a freaky fast filly,” he said. “One of the fastest Minnesota-bred fillies I ever saw.”
There were those folks, of course, not deterred in the least by the ‘close’ conditions Saturday. “I don’t mind it a bit,” said trainer Bernell Rhone, who spends his winters in Florida.
There was the voice of reason, too, the reminder to all Minnesotans of something they sometimes forget this time of year.
“I’d much rather ride in this weather,” said jockey Rusty Shaw, “than in the cold.”
ROBERTSON ADDS ANOTHER MILESTONE
Justin Shepherd brought in Bing’s Magic in Friday night’s card finale, providing trainer Mac Robertson with the 500th Canterbury win of his career. Shepherd was on Blumin Sweetheart in the third on Saturday to make it 501 for Canterbury’s perennial training champion.
Robertson thus joins Bernell Rhone, Doug Oliver and Mike Biehler as a winner of 500 or more Canterbury races.
“That’s a lot of wins,” Robertson said after Saturday’s win No. 501. “I don’t like to think about it.”
2012 MYSTIC LAKE DERBY RUNNER-UP WHERE THE TURF MEETS THE SURF
2012 Mystic Lake Derby runner-up, Delegation, is entered in the $1,000,000 Pacific Classic on Sunday at Del Mar. At 8-1 on the morning line, he’s the co-fourth choice in a field featuring 2012 Pacific Classic winner Dullahan and the current leading choice to be named the 2013 Horse of the Year Game on Dude. Certainly a tall task, Delegation exits an impressive performance in the Dominion Day Stakes last time out at Woodbine where he set the pace and drew clear to win by 9-plus lengths while earning a 110 Beyer Speed Figure.
Delegation has quickly become one of the most accomplished horses to run at Canterbury in recent memory. He has two graded stakes victories since running second in the Mystic Lake Derby as well as a third place finish in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. A win in the Pacific Classic would push him over $1 million in career earnings, a feat recently accomplished by Win Willy, the 2009 Rebel Stakes winner.
Win Willy broke his maiden at Canterbury as a two-year-old in 2008 and went on to earn more than $1 million including a victory in the 2011 Oaklawn Handicap.
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.