BY JIM WELLS
When you’re 16 years old and on the road, an athletic triumph of any kind is a thrill.
Ask Chay-Chazz Shambo, who added relay racing this year to the list of sports he enjoys. Shambo is a quarterback on his high school football team and a point-guard on the basketball team.
Now he’s also the lead rider for the Mountain River Indian relay team that is competing at Canterbury Park.
Subbing for Chris Cole, Shambo rode his team’s three horses to victory in the first heat on Friday night. Afterward, he got high fives from trainer Luis Canchari and his son, jockey Alex Canchari, for good reason.
Shambo’s third horse in the race , the one he came home on, was a racehorse at Canterbury as recently as two weeks ago but was sold by Luis Canchari Friday morning to the team Sambo represents.
“Way to go,” Alex Canchari said with a wide smile as he smacked hands with Shambo, a member of the Nakota White Clay nation.
“This is a lot of fun, something I really enjoy,” said Sambo.
He hoped to say something similar following Saturday night’s championship race.
The former Canchari horse? His name is Fly By Dubai, and he got his first win this year with Sambo aboard. It’s amazing what a change in barns can do sometimes.
Canterbury patrons were unaware Friday night that they had witnessed a piece of obscure racing history in the second heat of the relay races.
Instant replay was used for the first time, to anyone’s knowledge, by this particular Indian Horse Relay organization to disqualify the second place finisher because of interference.
Brian Beetum, who won his heat on Thursday night, made it two in a row riding for the Cheyenne River Sioux and made it look easy in the process.
Beetum,23, of Pine Ridge in South Dakota got his start in the sport right here at Canterbury last year, winning two heats and finishing second overall.
Friday, he duplicated last year’s effort while riding for the Cheyenne River Sioux team, DD Express, and hopes to improve upon last year’s finish in Saturday night’s final. Bettum’s exchanges were clean and quick. He was off one horse and on the second and third with a minimum of effort and time, and those smooth transitions were the difference.
The same wasn’t true for Wes Edwards riding for the Blackfeet of Montana’s team of Lil Badger. Edwards won his heat on Thursday’s card but was disqualified from second on Friday for interference, identified by the judges while watching a replay of the race. Another Montana Blackfeet team, the Pikunii Boys, with Chris Carlson the rider, was moved up to second.
Riders earn cash for the results they produce. Each dollar is essentially one point. Final results will be based upon total dollars earned, or points, during the competition.