By Noah Joseph
This weekend Canterbury Park runs its first stakes race of the season, the 10,000 Lakes Stakes. This race, set for Minnesota breds, is one of the most popular stakes of the season. It has had some famous winners and exciting editions, but one horse made his mark in this race.
Every racetrack has a horse that captures the hearts and attention of the fans. In the early 2000s, no horse was more appreciated at Canterbury than Crocrock. A Minnesota racing treasure, Crocrock won several stakes races over his wondrous career for owner Dale Schenian and trainer Francisco Bravo. Each one of his victories more impressive than the last. Crocrock won the 10,000 Lakes twice in his career, however, he is also well known for a time in the race that he didn’t win.
On May 20th, 2001, Crocrock was one of eleven Minnesota breds set to take part in the 10,000 Lakes. It was his first start of the year, and he was trying to continue his top form that saw him win three stakes the year before. To win the 10,000 Lakes, Crocrock had to face tough competition. His foes in the race included the defending champion of the 10,000 Lakes in It’s Truly Obvious; 1999 Minnesota Derby winner Nix of Time; the upstart Not So Fast Brutus; and Bleu Victoriate, the Canterbury Park Horse of the Year in 2000. Heavy rains pelted the track in the middle of the card, turning the track sloppy by the time the stakes race was ready, but Crocrock, being the professional he was, feared no surface, nor horse.
Crocrock broke smartly from the gate in the six furlong contest. Being on the outside, he rushed up to the lead, but was overtaken by the speedy longshot Up the Sandcreek. Jockey Mark Irving settled Crocrock down, and took the lead with a half a mile to go, as Up the Sandcreek got tired, and began to fade. Crocrock’s foes were not firing, and when the field turned for home, it seemed that the race was all but over. However, Not So Fast Brutus was coming quickly under jockey Tho Nguyen, but Crocrock didn’t realize it. Thinking he was home free, Crocrock tilted his head to left towards the crowd as it cheered, and became rank and hard to settle. Not So Fast Brutus then collared Crocrock, who after seeing what had happened recovered, but it was too late. Not So Fast Brutus had upset the hero by half a length. The race was talked about extensively. Paul Allen said on the replay show that Crocrock pointing his head and not straightening out cost him the race, which it did.
But Crocrock eventually recovered from his defeat and won five more stakes at Canterbury. His life tragically came to an end in 2005 in an accident, but he left his legacy in racing in Minnesota. He’s a member of the Canterbury Hall of Fame, and is remembered by his greatest victories, along with this one crushing defeat.