Goebels Honored

GoebelsThe 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.”

Amen.

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.

Any Day Now…

snowThe Canterbury Park stable area was scheduled to open Monday with the training track opening Tuesday. Mother Nature dropped the hammer this week in the form of a snowy mess, necessitating a delay to the scheduled opening. The backside will open April 19, the training track April 20 and the main track April 22 as originally planned (WEATHER PERMITTING).

There is however no truth to the rumor that new track superintendent Javier Barajas, upon seeing the weather forecast, immediately caught a return flight to Dubai where he spends his winters.

While the arrival of horses mid-month will be a trickle, by the end of May it should be a steady flow and by opening day nearly a full barn area is expected. The 2,500+ stall applications were a record for Canterbury Park and for the first time in nearly forever the 1,600 stalls will be filled. For horse players this is a cause to rejoice as it will translate to larger, more competitive racing and better wagering. The days of 42% winning favorites should be gone.

We will keep readers informed as trainers and horses arrive for the meet. Expect those that have been here for years, including Mac Robertson, to return along with many new barns. The jockey colony should take on a new look but until riders pull through the stable gate you never know for sure that they will ply their trade in Shakopee. Jockey agent Pete Antonucci did make it known that he will be representing Dean Butler and Lori Keith, a solid one-two punch.

Road to Kentucky

This week’s free-to-enter Road to Kentucky Contest features all races from Oaklawn Park plus the Blue Grass from Keeneland. Remember that Oaklawn has an earlier post time for their 12-race card and will begin at noon.

This is the final weekend of major prep races for the Derby with the Arkansas Derby and the Blue Grass each offering qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to the first four horses. The standings indicate that 20 is the current cutoff for the field of 20. There will be defections along the way but those lacking at least that level need to get serious this weekend.

In the Arkansas Derby, Den’s Legacy, from the Baffert barn, is sitting on that number. He closed well on the rail in The Rebel and figures to make another bid Saturday. War Academy, also a Baffert animal, has zero points but is receiving attention from various handicappers including one very prominent Canterbury analyst. A top two finish puts him in the Derby, a third puts him on the fence, and anything worse makes him a Preakness possibility. He is the 2-1 morning line favorite.

Frac Daddy showed promise as a 2-year-old but has not delivered at three. As a contest play, he might be worth a look and is 15-1 on the line.

Local ‘capper The Oracle suggests that the Kentucky Derby winner is contained in this Arkansas Derby field; however, he will not reveal who exactly that is.

The Blue Grass attracted a full field of 14 led by morning line favorite Uncaptured. The Casse trainee has 30 points. Rydilluc drew the 13 hole. He is three for four with all his wins on the turf. Keeneland is synthetic so conventional thought is that his form transfers well. Tough post in a tough field.

West Hills Giant at 20-1 is an interesting colt. He is a cut below but has speed and might find the front like he did in the Gotham. Getting nine furlongs is the question.

Palace Malice, off a troubled trip in the Louisiana Derby, is 8-1. Horses find trouble but his was enough to merit a long look here and likely at a better price than the 7/2 at Fair Grounds.

Win Willy poised to surpass $1 million in earnings

Owned by Jer-Mar Stables of Minneapolis, Win Willy is entered in the $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap Saturday. A top four finish will put him over the $1 million mark in earnings. The big closer trained by Mac Robertson has his work cut out for him as he faces multiple stakes winning Optimizer and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned along with a host of other top older horses. Cliff Berry is named to ride.

Overheard Last Night at The Local

Oaklawn“You don’t forget how to win The Derby” in reference to The Coach D. Wayne Lukas’ chances come the first Saturday in May. Not exactly sure how many pints had been downed at that point but the notion does make some sense. The pressing question for this week is: Do you forget how to win The Rebel?

If not then it goes to either Bob Baffert who is on a three-year Rebel win streak, Steve Asmussen who has one Rebel title with Curlin, Lukas with one – but he may be having a memory lapse – as Manashtash Ridge won for him in 1989 or Canterbury’s perennial leading trainer Mac Robertson who scored with Win Willy at 56-1 in 2009.

The free-to-enter Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest features the 11-race Oaklawn card including the double-point Rebel. Post time and contest entry deadline is 1:00pm.

Baffert has a pair entered in The Rebel including likely favorite Super Ninety Nine. The Pulpit colt dominated in the Southwest in February and has two Baffert-like drills at Santa Anita for Saturday’s Derby prep. For Beyer players this looks like a cinch as Super Ninety two most recent figs are better than any other challenger’s single best number.

Robertson teamed up with Jer-Mar Stables in ’09 for that Rebel shocker and they are back again Saturday with Stormy Holiday. The late running colt should be double digit odds with Beyers – an indicator of where the money goes – a cut below the rest of the field. Stormy Holiday, like Win Willy, broke his maiden at Canterbury Park as a 2-year-old in his only local start. He sprinted two weeks back, suffering a bad start, and a very wide late run. Plenty to run at today for D. Bell if he can save ground and charge on late maybe we see a Robertson Rebel repeat at a huge contest-winning price.

For all the Derby news visit The Daily Racing Form online. Their Top 20 page provides a great summary of who has done what and where they are headed.

Congrats to Tammy D.

Former Canterbury Park trainer Tammy Domenosky gave birth to a baby boy March 3. Tammy reports that young Maverick is doing very well. “I’ve come to realize that being a race horse trainer is easier than taking care of a newborn child,” she said.