What more could you ask for? Free hotdogs, a wiener dog race, and a hotdog eating contest were part of the mix on July 4. 5-time hotdog eating champion Gus D Dawn made it six in a row, polishing off challengers with ease. Oh and we had some horse racing too.
By JIM WELLS
NORTHBOUND PRIDE STAKES
Nice effort, nice ride, nice price.
Everything a couple of guys from Elk River could hope for on the Fourth of July.
Sirrah, a daughter of the Unbridled stallion Broken Vow, validated the strong backing of her owners at the windows _ and in their conversations with anyone who wanted the lowdown on their horse _ with a convincing victory Saturday in the $50,000 Northbound Pride Stakes.
With a late charge remindful of her late grandfather, Sirrah ran down Lady Countdown, finishing a length in front of her and another half length in front of Thelifeoftheparty with a final time of 1:38 and 1/5 for the (about a) mile on the turf.
That brought an immediate, prolonged whoop from Bill and Al Ulwelling, a father-son team who own A&B Welding and Construction in Elk River and five horses they run at Canterbury Park.
They were standing just outside the winner’s circle when they let their enthusiasm show.
Did the location they chose for the race indicate confidence?
“We didn’t come here to take second,” said Bill.
Did they bet her?
“We bet her good, real good,” Bill responded.
So, in addition to the 60 percent cut of the purse that goes to the winning team, the Ulwellings picked up a nice piece of change at the pari-mutuel windows. Their horse paid $14, $7.60 and $5.80 across the board.
The Ulwellings claimed this horse at the Fairgrounds in New Orleans from Starlight Stable for a very modest $15,000 the very first time she ran in late February. She has won that back and then some in a career total of five races. With the $30,000-plus she picked up on Saturday, Sirrah has a career bankroll now of $50,000-plus.
“We liked her pedigree, her bloodlines and we bought her based on that,” said Al.
The Ulwellings were at Canterbury Park on Friday night too and didn’t make that trip to take second either.
But Section F, their three-year-old gelding by Gulch, ran third in the $50,000 Dean Kutz Stakes. “We got bumped three times in that race,” said Bill.
“Well, at least twice,” said Al.
Sirrah won on May 29 at Canterbury Park with Scott Stevens in the irons, but he took off her on Saturday to ride Pterodactyls Rule for trainer Mac Robertson.
Jose Ferrer was on Sirrah for the first time and timed his move on her just right.
“You gotta get lucky, right?” Ferrer hollered after jumping from the scales in the winner’s circle. “Now, it’s showtime,” he yelped, giving paddock analyst Kevin Gorg a high five.
“You know, Jose rode the horse well and Mike Biehler did a great job training her,” Bill Ulwelling said.
The Ulwellings, it seems, did a great job of putting their money where their mouths are, too.
Trainer Ed Ross Hardy was standing outside the winner’s circle late Saturday afternoon when his cell phone rang.
“Yes, sir. We won it. She got it racing in 17.92,” Hardy said to the caller. “No, he screwed up in the gate, he reared up and ran out of it.”
In that short, terse conversation, Hardy summed up the highs and lows of the racing world, the highs and lows of the race just run.
“I really hoped to run one-two,” he said.
Hands Off Buddy, the horse Hardy owns in partnership, had the best qualifying time for Saturday’s $51,650 Grade III race, 18.121 and was sent off as the second choice, but he reared up in the gate and got a bad start and was never in the race.
Hardy has been Canterbury Park’s champion trainer eight times, including the last seven straight, because he keeps a loaded barn in Shakopee.
When Hands Off Buddy faltered, Stolis Kool Chick, ridden by Ry Eikleberry, picked up the slack and nosed out the Amber Blair trained-A Sweet Gamble. Babblin Brook was third and Behavin Cartel, fourth.
Hardy’s finances were bolstered with the victory because he owns a piece of the winner in a partnership of several owners he put together last year.
He owns 50 percent of Hands Off Buddy, but only 17.5 percent of the winner.
The winner’s partnership came about a few months ago.
“Owners biggest expenses are paying the daily charges for keeping a horse,” Hardy said. “With the economy the way it’s been, it’s even worse.”
So, Harding decided to spread out the expense and put together partnerships that include himself with a number of other owners.
“That lessens the cost for everyone and we can all still have a good time,” he said.
The partnership had a good time Saturday.
Just then, Hardy’s cell phone chirped again. It was one of Stolis Kool Chick’s owners, Jeremy Newton, calling _ as Hardy put it _ “from the beach in Cozumel.”
“Yup, she won it,” Hardy said. “A Grade III race. Her real estate just went up.”