BY JIM WELLS
Yes, that was Alex Canchari on his high horse after the feature race on Monday, a very high horse in fact.
Seventeen hands and then some.
In what had seemed to degenerate into a so-so race earlier in the day actually had a thrilling finish as the two top choices battled head-to-head in the final strides of the $55,000 MTA Stallion Auction Stakes. A six-horse field was reduced to four with two scratches after rains pelted the Shakopee area overnight. Yet, a track that appeared a little muddy in parts was listed as good throughout the card and actually was running fast the entire day.
As it did in the feature race, with Canchari guiding One Fine Dream to his fifth consecutive victory, in a stakes record 1:16.18.
Owner Leroy Gessmann was not taking anything for granted in this race, not with long-time foe No Holds Barred. Gessmann’s horse had beaten No Hold Barred in two previous races. “We knew what he could do. He always battled and we were coming back short,” he said. “That’s just the way it turned out,” he said.
One Fine Dream was coming off three consecutive races at a mile and 70 yards or more and passed this 6 ½ furlong test, once again with No Holds Barred pressing hard, but finished a head in front, with Pensador, the Minnesota Derby winner another six lengths back.
LABOR DAY NOTES
The 10-year-old gelding Bizet made it official on Monday after running off the board in a claiming sprint. Owned by Alan Booge Racing, the Minnesota-bred ran the 66th race of his long career, and was retired afterward.
He was 11-11-13 in 66 career starts with earnings of $277,941.
The winner of Monday’s sixth race was a 3-year-old gelding named Kelamonster at 7-1, out of the Mac Robertson barn with Paul Nolan the winning rider.
The horse is owned by Dorothy Erban who pointed out Nolan’s affinity for horses in this particular family. He was on Chasin Mason, the dam of Kelamonster, when she won the 2006 Minnesota Oaks, as well. The Erbans owned that horse in a partnership.
I’LL TAKE ONE WITH RELISH AND MUSTARD
All sorts of crazy things were on tap for Labor Day. Internet reports captured the attention of readers across the nation regarding a grandmother ordered to leave the treehouse she has occupied since 1992. A certain beloved former quarterback was headed to Mexico to get stem cell treatments for a variety of ailments. So why shouldn’t there be dogs racing at Canterbury Park.
Dogs, you say!
Yes, indeed. Dauchshunds. Wiener dogs. A hundred of them and not a one named Anthony.
Then again, the day belong to Coco, a four-year-old mottled brown speedster who made up for her handler’s mistake last year when she finished third because of a late release from the gate.
No such problem this time. Claire and Lynndon Hecker of Mankato and their five-year-old daughter, Edie, celebrated the championship this time around.
Second place went to Franky. Henri was third. The championship, following race seven, was preceded by six heats earlier on the card.
The annual Wiener Dog Wars have been a staple of summer promotions at Canterbury Park for the last half dozen years.
The heat one winner on Monday was a feisty little fellow named Chewbacca, weighing in at a mere 14 pounds. Some of the heats were punctuated by what is referred to in the horse racing world as “savaging,” or attacking another animal during the race. Some of these frisky little fellows took time out from running in a straight line to cross over a path or two and take a nip at a competitor.
As the heats proceeded, all sorts of things took place. One dog declined to race at all and merely sniffed the ground in front of him as he sauntered toward the finish line, stopping here and there, to analyze the surroundings. One dog left the gate and must have thought he spotted a familiar face on the sideline because that’s where he headed, straight out of the gate.
Heat two presented the large crowd with a bit of Minnesota Twins nostalgia. Ryan and Christie Petshen’s Kirby was the winner of that heat, named, of course, after Kirby Puckett.
Henri came up big for Maggie and Madeline Heilmann in heat three. His owners describe him as a dog with deceptive speed who has honed his game training with sled dogs. He looked in this heat as if he has been training with greyhounds.
Molly and Nathan Crespo’s Lilly won heat four after joining the race circuit this year.
Heat 5 went to Franky, a little guy at nine pounds, owned by Stacy Titterington and Jeffrey Hunt , and heat six was taken by Coco, the overall winner.