By Noah Joseph
Horses, like people, come from all over the world. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, horses from across the globe have made their presence felt in America, and many have made their presence felt at Canterbury Park and Downs.
In fact, foreign horses have made history at Canterbury from the very beginning. The first ever winner in Minnesota was a foreign horse. Faiz, bred in Great Britain, took the first race in track history in 1985. That same year, John Bullit, a New Zealand bred, began his Canterbury conquest. From 1985 to 1990, John Bullit won a total of 17 races at Canterbury, including a stakes race. He’s a member of the Canterbury Hall of Fame and has a stakes race named after him annually.
Horse racing is a sport that began on grass, and foreign runners on our turf have etched a place in Canterbury lore. For example, three of the first five winners of The Lady Canterbury were born outside the US. Sauna won the first edition in 1986. Foaled in Australia, Sauna was a good runner in her homeland and in America, winning a total of four stakes including a Grade 3. As a broodmare, she produced graded stakes winner, and Breeders’ Cup runner Garbu, who was sired by Strawberry Road, who like Sauna, was born in Australia.
Similar to Sauna, was Balbonella. Born in France, Balbonella was a multiple graded stakes winner in her home country before she came to America. She won the 1988 Lady Canterbury, one of three stakes wins that year. As a broodmare, she produced three winners, including Anabaa, who became the sire of the three time Breeders’ Cup Mile winner; Goldikova. The last one was Fieldy. An Irish bred mare, she excelled in the US. Her win in the 1990 Lady Canterbury was one of 13 stakes wins in America, where she earned more than $1 million in purses. She later became a broodmare in Japan, where she appears in the family of the Japanese Grade One winning mare Aston Machan. Other foreign winners at Canterbury over the years include Chasm, Spider Power, and Housemaker.
Just recently, there was another foreign-bred winner. Showreel, a British bred mare, won the first race Friday May 11, ridden by Israel Hernandez for trainer Ron Westermann.