By Noah Joseph
In the history of Canterbury, only two horses have won the biggest race for three-year-olds (originally the Saint Paul Derby, and now the Mystic Lake Derby) in one year, and then have gone on to win biggest race for older horses (originally the Canterbury Cup, and now the Mystic Lake Mile) the following year. It’s rare, because things can change during a course of a year, but Secret Hello and Hammers Terror did just that.
Secret Hello came into the 1990 Saint Paul Derby as one of the top choices in the field. The son of Private Account won the Arlington-Washington Futurity (at that time a Grade 1 race) the previous year as a two-year-old, and began 1990 with a fourth-place finish in the Withers Stakes in New York. Under jockey Pat Day, Secret Hello had to deal with 1989 Canterbury Juvenile winner Appealing Breeze, the speedy Sound Of Cannons, and the Arkansas Derby winner Silver Ending. Secret Hello tracked Sound Of Cannons for much of the race, before taking the lead in the shadow of the wire to win by a head. While not quite a deja vu, Secret Hello came into the 1991 Canterbury Cup Handicap off a fourth-place finish in a graded stakes race. He finished fourth in the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, behind future Breeders’ Cup Classic, and 1991 Horse of the Year Black Tie Affair. Secret Hello, this time under local rider Chris Valovich, took the lead from the onset and skipped away from the field to win by 3 ¼ lengths on the muddy track.
About a month ago, Sniper Kitten won the Mystic Lake Derby. While there is no answer on whether he’ll run in next year’s Mystic Lake Mile, if he does run in and win, he won’t be the first to do it. That honor belongs to Hammers Terror. A son of Artie Schiller, Hammers Terror entered the inaugural Mystic Lake Derby in 2012 as one of the favorites. He came into the race with a third in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, and a win in the Charlie Barley Stakes at Woodbine for trainer Michael Stidham.To win, he had to defeat the likes of the then undefeated Delegation, and Gung Ho, who finished third in the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. Hammers Terror broke sharply from the two post under jockey Lori Keith and went wire to wire, and had to survive an inquiry for veering out and interfering with Delegation…..but the result stood.
The following year, Hammers Terror came in as the favorite for the inaugural Mystic Lake Mile, this time ridden by Dean Butler. Breaking from the outside post nine, Hammers Terror led for most of the race, and won by a length, making him the first horse to win back-to-back inaugural stakes at Canterbury.