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Top Quarter Horses On Tap

This week brings us two major quarter horse stakes races at Canterbury Park: The Northlands Futurity on Thursday and the Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby on Saturday. These are the two biggest quarter horse races of the meet for open company and feature some of the best 2-year-old and 3-year-old quarter horses on the grounds.

Thursday, July 5: Northlands Futurity, $59,800, 350 yards

Leading Trainer: Ed Ross Hardy (6)

Leading Jockey: Tad Leggett (3)

Record Purse: $64,000, won by Cruzin the Wagon in 2011

Thursday’s race card features one of the highlights of the 2012 Canterbury Park meet: the 25th running of the Northlands Futurity. The Northlands is open to two-year-olds that qualified from four trials held Saturday, June 16th. This year’s purse of nearly $60,000 rivals the record purse offered last year of $64,000, when the race was won by Mary Louise and Terry Pursel’s Cruzin the Wagon, trained by Brent Clay and ridden by Stormy Smith. With a time of 17.754, Cruzin the Wagon narrowly missed the stakes record time of 17.74 set in 2006 by Rodney von Ohlen’s First Class Smarty. Cruzin went on to break not only a stakes time, but a track record time at Remington Park this spring when he won the Grade 3 Jack Brooks Stakes at 350 yards in 17.060 over a sloppy track. Cruzin the Wagon is one of a number of horses that have proven themselves on the Canterbury surface and continued to make a splash on the national scene. Still in training today, Cruzin the Wagon has a 2012 record of 5-4-1-0 and earnings of over $135,000; he has nine wins out of his eleven lifetime starts to date and has earned close to $300,000.

Will one of this year’s entries follow Cruzin’s hoofprints? Fastest qualifier and morning line favorite #9 Bp Painted Lady (8-5) has the bloodlines and talent to do so. Bred by Bill Price in Oklahoma, Bp Painted Lady is by leading two-year-old sire Pyc Paint Your Wagon and out of the First Down Dash mare Ladys Is First. She has never been worse than second in her four lifetime starts. Her campaign began this spring at Remington Park, where she finished second in a stakes race before shipping to Canterbury for the Northlands trials. Bp Painted Lady did not break sharply in the trial but gained enough ground in the final 100 yards to beat the field by over two lengths as the 1-9 post time favorite.

Second-fastest qualifier #1 Nn Absolutely (9-2) broke his maiden in his trial and won by over a length. The Tres Seis gelding trained by Ed Ross Hardy hopped slightly at the gate and broke last, but like Bp Painted Lady, gained ground near the end for a dominating win.

Third-fastest qualifier is #7 Lynns Wagon (6-1). The Pyc Paint Your Wagon filly won gate to wire, defeating Eye a Hero and Jess Thats Blazin, who also qualified. Lynns Wagon ran impressively and may be capable of even more when she is in stakes company and can pair up with a competitive horse.

#5 Midnight Sunlight (5-1) broke his maiden in his debut at Remington Park in March; he led briefly in his trial but fell back to second behind Nn Absolutely. Midnight Sunlight was the second place finisher in the Grade 2 Oklahoma Futurity.

#2 Mr Shakem Diva (10-1) ran second to the fastest qualifier, but beware of the comment lines in that effort. After the break, he was bumped slightly but not enough to set him off his path; he ran evenly with Bp Painted Lady until she pulled away in the stretch. This horse may not be the one to beat the fastest qualifier today, but he is well-bred and has shown steady improvement, keep an eye out for this one in future races.

#6 Sr Ivory Queen (12-1) will make an interesting exotic play, the Bobby Cox-bred Ivory James filly led the field for the entire race to defeat post-time favorite Traffic Patrol by a length and a half.

#4 Eye a Hero (15-1) has a good chance to outrun his odds. He hopped at the start of his trial, was pushed by the horse to his outside, and still had enough left to make a big run and get up for second behind Lynns Wagon.

#3 Naked Spur (15-1) was prevented from finishing better by gate trouble and overwhelming speed of winner Bp Painted Lady but the horse showed enough talent to finish strong and qualify for the final.

#10 Jess Thats Blazin (15-1) bobbled at the start and improved to third behind Lynns Wagon and Eye a Hero while attempting 350 yards for the first time in his trial.

#8 Traffic Patrol (15-1) finished second in her trial behind Sr Ivory Queen after a slow break. Traffic Patrol has shown speed and momentum near the end of each of her races, and her Thoroughbred bloodlines suggest she will do well with longer races.

Saturday, July 7: Canterbury Park Quarter Horse Derby, $40,650, 400 yards

Leading Trainer: Ed Ross Hardy (6)

Leading Jockey: Casey Lambert (2), Tad Leggett (2), Stormy Smith (2)

Record Purse: $100,000, won by Oh Bid Go in 1988 and Osceola Warrior in 1989

The 25th running of the Canterbury Derby will be held on Saturday, featuring the ten fastest three-year-olds from qualifying trials on June 23rd. Though Ed Ross Hardy leads the standings for this race with six wins, Brent Clay has won three of the last six years, including 2010 winner Time for Wilena, who set the stakes record of 19.699, and last year’s winner, I Am That Hero, owned by Brent and Karen Clay and ridden by Stormy Smith. After winning the Canterbury Derby last year in 20.259, I Am That Hero continued his campaign in trials, derbies and allowance races at Zia, Sunland, Hialeah and Remington, only finishing off the board twice in his 12 starts in 2011 and earning over $135,000.

The Canterbury Derby is a key race for local horses; the winner of the 2007 Derby, First Class Smarty, was also the winner of the Northlands Futurity the year before and still holds the stakes record time for that race. Mr La Bubba won the Derby in 2008; he won the Great Lakes Stakes the following year.

The field for this year’s race has extensive Canterbury experience but also brings backclass from Oklahoma, Iowa and Indiana. Two trial races were held to determine the fastest qualifiers, and the trial times were evenly split, each race qualifying five horses.

Remington shipper #3 Huckleberry Mojito was the fastest qualifier and will be the early favorite at 2-1 on the morning line. The Feature Mr Jess filly covered the 400 yards in only 19.97 and separated herself from the field by three lengths at the wire. Ed Ross Hardy trains Huckleberry Mojito and Nik Goodwin will ride; Goodwin wins at 42% on quarter horses at this meet and has been first or second in 24 of his 26 starts. As is typical with Feature Mr Jess fillies, she has shown remarkable improvement both as a three-year-old and at running longer distances.

Drawing to the outside of Huckleberry Mojito is #4 Painted Lies (4-1). Painted Lies (pictured at top) was the second fastest qualifier, winning his trial by a neck in 20.33. This was the fourth win in a row for the Pyc Paint Your Wagon gelding, trained by Amber Blair. Painted Lies was the fastest qualifier to the Minnesota Stallion Breeders and North Central Derby last month, and he won the final by a neck. Painted Lies has never run out of the money at Canterbury and was competitive at Remington Park this spring, including a fifth place finish behind Cruzin the Wagon in a $246,000 statebred stakes.

Huckleberry Mojito and Painted Lies will likely turn this event into a match race down the center of the track. Though Huckleberry Mojito has proven to be faster, Painted Lies has never faced the same level of competition, and this could elevate his performance in the race. Look for another Feature Mr Jess Filly, #10 Feature Dreamgirl (5-1), to close fast from the outside. Bred in Utah and trained by Ed Ross Hardy for owner David Wisdom, Feature Dreamgirl has run second to Painted Lies in her last three starts but has narrowed the gap each time. Feature Dreamgirl broke her maiden as a three-year-old against older horses at Remington Park and continues to improve at Canterbury.

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

This blog was written by AQHA Q-Racing Ace Jen Perkins. Jen travels to tracks across the country to educate fans about handicapping and Quarter Horse racing, and shares her perspective on Canterbury Quarter Horse racing as well as insider information on America’s fastest athletes.

Photo Credit: Coady Photography