Call it determination, commitment, resilience or just plain stubbornness but a horse named Sol Fire and her owners absolutely refused to throw in the towel – not when she lost her first five races, not when the number reached 10, not 15 not even 19.
Imagine that, you’ve been racing for four years and have yet to break your maiden. Granted, you didn’t race your two-year-old season because of an eye infection, which was just as well because your owners didn’t want to rush you anyway.
Yet, time after time your owners, all 16 of them, have shown up only to leave once again without the result everyone in this game chases – spring after spring, summer after summer.
Sol Fire caught fire, shall we say, at the 1/16th pole and left the maiden ranks under Derek Bell, finishing ½ length in front of her nearest maiden rival.
“Hey, Derek, you just proved that old maxim again,” a wise-acre commented. “The 20th time is the charm.”
Bell merely grinned.
The winning owner, all 16 of them, race under the name Stellar Teller, a partnership put together by Jolene Danner of St. Paul, a former teller at Canterbury Park who has a degree in animal production systems from the University of Minnesota. Originally 13 of the owners were actually tellers at Canterbury, the other three shareholders related to one of them. That ownership purity has changed some over the years, however.
Danner, who bred the mare, has a boarding stable in Inver Grove Heights, where, in fact, Sol Fire was foaled and resides during her time off in the winter months.
The boarding stable is home to 16 horses, one steer and two cats, who likely won’t recognize the difference in Sol Fire, now that she’s no longer a maiden, the next time she arrives.
Nonetheless, the winner’s circle was filled with happy people on Sunday who do know the difference.
“This is really neat,” said Danner, who made it clear that although winning was always a goal there was much more to the idea of owning this horse and showing up to see her run.
“We always trusted and respected (trainer) Bruce (Riecken) . We never asked him to drop the horse down. We just went along with his ideas.”
Danner got interested in horse racing, not as you might expect, because she worked at Canterbury, but after the purchase of Dish Network at her home. “I started watching the horse racing network after school and really liked it,” she explained.
She could not say enough good things about the horse her group celebrated on Sunday.
“This is so much fun,” she said. “She loves to run, maybe just not winning. She didn’t like to run past horses, but she loves the attention.”
The group’s patience with their horse might not have survived but for her ability to pay her way. She did, after all, hit the board in eight of her races, four times as a runnerup and another four as the third-place horse.
There was a spell last summer, however…
“She got screwed four times with the No. 11 hole,” Danner said, “and then there was the shutdown… but she had banked enough to take care of the expense.”
On Sunday, the 6-year-old daughter of Shot of Gold from Miss Fatima, proved, once again, that good things come to those who wait.
CHAPLAIN NEEDS SOME CASH
Hey, no need to head downtown to the Guthrie or to Chanhassen for the dinner theater any longer. It’s as near as the backside on one of two nights, July 28 and 29th, for some dinner theater that will benefit the RTCA Chaplaincy.
The Chapel will turn into the Quarter Pole Café those evenings, with dinner served between acts, as a mystery is solved Dinner and the show are a mere $30.
REBA’S SISTER, PAT DAY HERE
Susie McEntire-Eaton and Pat Day will be here for a White Horse Event on Aug. 14. Concerts are scheduled at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., free to the backside but in need of sponsors. Contact Chaplain Ed at 612-396-2033 if you can help.
KEITH SCORES ANOTHER TRIPLE
From time to time, you could hear the words drift through the press box – as long as Lori Keith was riding the race – “she has become so blankety-blank good.”
The words originated with the same fellow who announced after the eighth race – “three wins for the girl.”
It was Keith’s second triple of the meet, increasing her wins to 21, solidly in third place behind Tanner Riggs with 38 wins and Dean Butler with 32.
This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.
Photo Credit: Coady Photography