HEZA WILD GUY, TOURMALINE WIN STAKES
Strength, perseverance? Oh, Heza Wild Guy qualified on both counts and then some.
Heart, a passion for the occupation?
He qualified there, too.
That’s where the similarity between Heza Wild Guy and numerous fathers on hand at Canterbury Park ended Sunday.
Heza Wild Guy, you see, is a gelding.
A 10-year-old gelding at that.
A crowd of 15,002, the largest of the season, was on hand to celebrate Father’s Day and Heza Wild Guy’s big win.
Making his 73rd career start, he was running against horses three, four and five years his junior.
“I just hope the old guy has some juice left in the battery,” said Jerry Pint, one of his two owners shortly before post time.
Heza Wild Guy was running against horses he could have fathered if other choices had been made early in his career, and he showed them how it’s done, going gate to wire under Martin Escobar.
Heza’s win gave trainer Bernell Rhone a sweep of the stakes on the card. One race earlier Tourmaline had won the $35,000 Northbound Pride Stakes, assuring Rhone of a nice fishing trip for the upcoming (according to trainer schedules) weekend.
Heza’s Wild Guy filled his papers with the win, his 30th, adding $21,000 and change to previous earnings of $624,868. “That makes him the all time Indiana bred in earnings, or just a few dollars short, maybe $1,000,” said Rhone.
Rhone indicated aht Heza Wild Guy’s next local outing is likely the John Bullit on Aug. 14.
Heza Wild Guy had control of the race Sunday from start to finish, completing the mile event that was moved from the grass to the dirt, 2 ¾ lengths in front of Que Paso, 4 ½ in front of Sommelier Smarty.
Will Carlson, Heza’s other owner, summed it up thusly:
“It’s all heart, you know that,” he said. “He does it just like other pro athletes, but he’s smart. He doesn’t get hurt.”
Paddock analyst Angela Hermann summed up this effort succinctly:
“That horse ran his booty off,” she said.
Despite his age, Heza Wild Guy was sent off as the 2-1 favortie, with Sommelier Smarty second at $2.80 to $1 and Green Secret next at 5-1.
Sarah Nessan, the daughter of Brooks Fields, for whom the race is named, presented the winning trophy. “Wasn’t that fantastic,” she said. Adding a few moments later, “I’m going to cash my tickets.”
NORTHBOUND PRIDE STAKES
Tourmaline was sent off the even-money favorite in a seven-horse field that included Artemus Kitten, second choice at 2-1, from the respected Mike Maker barn.
Under Dean Butler, the track’s leading rider, Tourmaline began moving up as the field hit the second turn, moved to the front midway through the turn and took command in the stretch drive, finishing 4 ½ lengths in front of Paris by Night, a 10-1 outsider.
Artemus Kitten was third, another 6 ¼ lengths behind the winner. Tourmaline was a $2,500 purchase at Keeneland by Mike Walker and Wayne Ukens. Walker was in the winner’s circle after Sunday’s race.
Rhone took over Tourmaline in Florida last winter. She previously had run out of the barn of Lon Wiggins at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans and ran well out of it in the Oaks there on Mar. 11.
“She’s a really nice filly,” said Walker, of Shawnee, Okla. “That race at the Fair Grounds was her first time at two turns.”
She did much better this time.
SUNDAY HIGH NOTES
The big winner of the day could be found in the last race on the card. The Third Guy, owned by Janet Weber and trained by Vic Hanson, surprised the field of 11 foes and much of the crowd, winning under Lori Keith at 23-1.
A REAL COWBOY, YES SIR
The winner of the lid lifter to the card, a five-furlong dash for maidens, was first-time starter Cowboy Luke, owned by Larry Cronin, Pete Mattson and Deborah Ragsdale and ridden by Juan Rivera.
The son of Suave was purchased by Cronin for $5,000 at Keeneland.
Cronin named the horse for a great nephew, 3-year-old Luke Finken, who is seen at Canterbury on occasion in his western boots and hat.
“He wears them every day,” said Cronin.
Young Luke asked Cronin if he would give him a horseback ride some time. Cronin agreed and tried to satisfy the request with a mechanical horse. No way, young Luke demanded, he wanted to ride a real horse.
So, Cronin arranged for him to get on a pony on the backside one day. Luke decided he needed a whip and then wanted to go to the track to ride his steed.
Luke was confronted over his cowboy/horse passion by a classmate at pre-school one day.
“The kid told him he wasn’t a real cowboy. Luke said he was,” Cronin said.
When the classmate persisted, Luke did what any real cowboy would do under the circumstances.