BY JIM WELLS
The story circulated throughout the grandstand Sunday that a tornado had been spotted on the ground in Columbus Township.That was of special interest to racing fans since it is also the location of Running Aces standardbred track.It was also of interest to Jim Olson, a board member of the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Assn.
Olson lives in Andover, some 10 miles from the Columbus track.
A couple of years ago, a horse of his won a race at Canterbury and Olson was headed to the winner’s circle to get his picture taken when Paul Allen delivered a message over the public address system.
“He wanted me to call the press box for an emergency message,” Olson recalled.
“I figured it was a gag, that he was just trying to keep me from getting my picture taken,” Olson said. “So I went to the winner’s circle and got my picture taken.”
After calling the pressbox later, Olson learned that the emergency call was for real, that he was to call home.
He discovered upon making the call that his house had been struck by lightning and had started on fire.
Sunday, without provocation other than the unconfirmed report of a tornado in Columbus, Olson checked in at home and found that all was well.
So, his only weather-related concern was that he might have to buy a boat after the deluge of rain. “My backyard looks like a lake,” he said.
THE GROUP CELEBRATES ITS MAIDEN WIN
Two years ago Tahitian Queen took her owners to the winner’s circle on her first start for them, on opening night. She wasn’t finished there and won another race for them before the meet concluded.
Conceived by media relations director Jeff Maday, the partnership group gave numerous fans the chance to be an owner without a large outlay of cash.
The stable name changes each year, depending on the name of the horse. That initial group of 60 investors was known as the Tahitian Queen Club.
Last year a group of similar size known as the Gown Club didn’t make a single trip to the winner’s circle.That’s not the case this time around.
Crown The Cat, trained by Kenny Jansen, outgunned Graemes Star in Sunday’s third race and her first start for the club.The winning rider was Ry Eikleberry who also rode Gown last year.
“We figured we owed this one to Ry,” said Maday.
STALL SUPERINTENDENT GETS AROUND
Mark Stancato made a rare appearance on the front side Sunday afternoon, soliciting signatures on a get well card for a friend.
Although Stancacto is a world traveler during the months he is not overseeing stall distribution among other duties in Canterbury Park’s stable area, he is seldom found up front.
His vacation highlights are a staple of the racing office. He is always willing to share the precious tidbits of his months away from racing, which seem to grow more plentiful with each passing year.
There were his usual journeys to Mexico _ two this time for three weeks each _ and a two week stay in Costa Rica to boot.He left Canterbury last autumn and joined his mother, Nancy, in Florida before taking a long-planned trip with her to Israel and the Holy Land.
There were excursions to all of the usual shrines, with a trip to the Dead Sea; its buoyant salt water able to keep him afloat without effort.
Disappointed in the commercial aspects surrounding many of the holy shrines, an unexpected surprise during lunch one day became the highlight of the trip.
Impressed by an elderly gentlemen’s sophisticated appearance during lunch, they were told that he took two meals a day at the restaurant. “Mother couldn’t believe that this elderly fellow was dressed so impeccably, wearing a real suit and a fedora.
She was even more impressed to learn the gentleman was 101 years old. Impressed even more to learn that he was the father of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.