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Canterbury and the Kentucky Derby

By Noah Joseph

Last Saturday, more than 19,000 fans came to Canterbury to watch this year’s running of the Kentucky Derby. Since it opened in 1985, Canterbury has had several horses that raced in Shakopee as 2-year-olds go on to race in the Kentucky Derby at age 3. While there were no horses to do so this year, here are some in the past that did.


Rampage, in 1985, was the first horse to race here at 2 years old and then run in the Kentucky Derby. He won his debut at Canterbury, and then at three won the Arkansas Derby, and finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby. His final start came that same year in the inaugural Saint Paul Derby, in which he ran fifth.


By far the most popular and successful of them all was Unbridled. The son of Fappiano was owned by 92-year-old Frances Genter, a resident of Minnesota. Unbridled made only one start at Canterbury in the 1989 Canterbury Juvenile, and finished second. Unbridled went on to win the 1990 Kentucky Derby. Following his racing career, he became a very successful stallion, producing runners such as Unbridled’s Song and Empire Maker.


In 2001, despite never winning at Canterbury, one horse took Canterbury on a Triple Crown chase. That horse was It’sallinthechase. Owned by local Darwin Olson and trained by Wilson Brown, It’sallinthechase made three starts at Canterbury in 2001, with his best finish being a second. He ran in the 2001 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile under jockey R.D Williams. He ran off the board in the Kentucky Derby the following year in what was his final race.

Jockey Mike Smith

While no horse that raced at Canterbury Park ran in the Derby this year, there was still a Canterbury connection. Mike Smith, the rider of the winner Justify, won the first riding title in Canterbury history in 1985.