There was something positive in the air when she awoke Sunday morning, and Sheri Nolan shared it with her next door neighbor on the way to Canterbury Park.
“We rode out together,” said Matt Wiebke, “and Sheri said she had a winning feeling, that it was the right day.”
There was nothing to back up that sentiment as the card unfolded. In the paddock before race three, Myakka Heart, a four-year-old filly, grew fidgety and began thrashing about as she dumped Paul Nolan.
“She was trying to kick me, so I crawled into the bushes to get away,” said Nolan.
Nonetheless, from Wiebke’s vantage point it appeared that Nolan might be finished for the day. “I was thumbing through (the program) trying to see if another rider might be available.”
The Nolans have been next door neighbors to Wiebke since 2,000. In fact it was Paul who helped nurse Wiebke’s interest in horse racing and educate him on the sport.
At one during the past decade, Wiebke, who started a partnership involving several owners, had as many as 20 horses. That original investment dissolved over the past couple of years, and Wiebke had a decision to make. “I had to decide if I wanted to be in the game to make money or to have fun,” he said.
He decided on fun, and Sunday’s start was his first at Canterbury in nearly two years. Wiebke’s stable is still Web’s Gems, but is invested in only three horses, including Ready To Thrill, the 3-year-old gelding Nolan was named on in race six.
But first, additional information on the paddock incident before race three:
Nolan popped up, none the worse for the wear and was able to ride Myakka Heart to third place. He was also on Ready To Thrill for race six.
“Just ride with confidence,” Wiebke said to Nolan shortly before he mounted the horse.
As he walked into the grandstand, Wiebke made some additional comments to an acquaintance. “We have to be on the lead in this race to have a chance,” he said. “There’s a lot of speed.”
So, Wiebke, without a starter for two years, and Nolan, who was looking for his first win of the meet (he was 0-for-20) went to the post with that thought in mind.
Ready To Thrill was ready to do just that and went gate to wire. “It’s finally nice to get the win,” said Nolan. “All I needed was the right horse.”
“Sheri said she had a good feeling,” said Wiebke.
SKIP ZIMMERMAN STAKES
In the paddock before this $15,000 stake race, Melita Knapper took a look at the field and returned with this assessment to share with her husband, Paul.
“I like that No. 5 horse. He’s the best looking horse out there,” she said.
You could have taken that tidbit to the bank had you followed up with a bet on Mr. Hempens Feature, who not only looked good but ran even better, beating five rivals that included A Sweet Gamble, the defending champion in this race, finishing in 17.2 seconds.
Mr. Hempens Feature, owned by Cynthia Besser of St. Cloud, set a track record in the trials for the Canterbury Derby last year, but finished ninth in that race.
A chip in his right front knee was the reason, so he was taken home, underwent surgery and was back on his game Sunday, finishing a full length in front of Six It Up. A Sweet Gamble was next.
“He’a fast. He’s heck of a nice horse,” said winning rider Ry Eikleberry.
Melita Knapper knew that even before the race.