There was a memorable summer at Canterbury Downs when racing fans could count on a horse named Cash Caravan to inflame them, invigorate them and send them to the windows to cash a ticket. Cash Caravan, for that thrilling summer, was next thing to a cash cow.
been something akin to a platoon leader issuing this command shortly before he raced: Cash Caravan supporters, take your stations.
During the time that Cash Caravan held a prominent spot in the quarter horse barns at Canterbury, several of his owners and their families staked out the same locations race after race to watch him run.
“He had quite a following, a lot of people from Hector and their friends,” said Carla Jean Keltgen, whose father, Doug Hoseck, headed a 10-owner partnership that owned the horse.
Carla Jean’s place whenever Cash Caravan raced was essentially on the stairs leading to the track apron from the horsemen’s section. She’d start out sitting in the front row of seats but that changed suddenly once the gates opened. “I was on the stairs and moving (generally toward the winner’s circle) when the horse went by,” she said. Her husband, Chuck, had his own spot picked out. One of Carla Jean’s sisters stood on the apron next to the finish line. Hoseck took his usual seat in the horseman’s section.
“A lot of times there was simply no place to sit,” said Keltgen. “He had a big following. I remember grabbing the Star-Tribune on days he raced to see what (the handicappers) said about him.”
Curt Sampson, who would purchase Canterbury Downs seven years later, was part of the partnership that owned Cash Caravan and staked out a spot on the stairs where he could see the race from start to finish. “We always stood part way up the stairs, even though we weren’t supposed to,” Sampson recalled. “We were only there for 20 seconds and it gave us a great view.”
The future owner of the Shakopee track recalled a consistent response from Carla Jean as Cash Caravan streaked down the runway and past the grandstand. “She would scream from the moment the gates opened until he crossed the finish line,” Sampson said. “It was fun to watch her.”
Carla Jean’s father says that her screams can be heard in a video of Cash Caravan taken during a race.
Cash Caravan, by Welika Cash from the Jeta Van mare Jet Caravan, was bred by the late Hall of Fame quarter horse breeder Bob Morehouse. Hoseck was the agriculture teacher in Hector at the time and had a student who wanted to breed his quarter horse mare. Hoseck paid a visit to Morehouse on the student’s behalf. “While I was there I saw some two-year-olds in training,” Hoseck said. “I went home and put together a group that bought a couple of horses from him.”
As Sampson recalls, Cash Caravan was actually the second horse in the deal. “The first one didn’t work out,” he said. “Bob Morehouse was just a peach of a guy and didn’t want any hard feelings, so he sold us Cash Caravan, a horse he bred and raised himself.”
According to Bobbi Morehouse, Bob’s daughter, the first horse probably came with a guarantee of a win, which never happened. Cash Caravan was likely a follow-up to that guarantee.
Whatever the agreement, Cash Caravan became a piece of Canterbury history and was the first horse enshrined in its hall of fame.
Cash Caravan won 14 races, finished second seven times and third eight times from 37 career starts. He had 13 starts at Canterbury, winning seven of them. He finished second once and was third three times. In one instance, he won three races in nine days: a trial race for the Canterbury Derby, the North Star Derby and the $52,000 Canterbury Derby. He also ran at tracks in Oklahoma, Illinois, Texas, California, Arizona and New York.
“He was a big horse. He seemed like he had two or three gears,” said Hoseck. “When he won the Canterbury Derby he was behind. Fifty yards from the finish he split two horses, Joe Merrick’s and Roy Browning’s, and won by a nose.”
Bob Jakobitz wound up the majority owner of Cash Caravan. “I had about 75 percent of him,” he recalled.
“I recall the trainer was on his way with him to Ruidoso Downs and stopped at his ranch in Oklahoma.”
The trainer was Jimmy Winkle, who called Hoseck with some bad news. “He said the horse had gotten spooked during a thunderstorm and got his leg caught up in a manger somehow.”
Cash Caravan never ran with the same authority again.
“You know if that trainer had just gone on to Ruidoso like he was supposed to instead of stopping at his ranch, the horse wouldn’t have gotten hurt,” Jackobitz said.
Cash Caravan eventually was retired to the Sampson Thoroughbred Farm. “I think he spent nearly two years there, out in the pasture,” Curt said.
Trainer Dale Haglund tried running him one more time but the jockey had to pull him up during the race. “He was a big horse, more than 17 hands, bigger than any quarter horse on the grounds,” said Haglund. “I think he was probably the best Minnesota quarter horse ever.”
In any event, Canterbury’s first equine member of the hall of fame has his place at the head of the track’s other equine stars who provided memorable moments in Minnesota racing history.