BY JIM WELLS
The gang from Luck (Wis.) was back at the track on Friday night in a repeat of last year’s visit.
Although a couple of adults were spotted in similar garb nearby, the gang consisted largely of Luck High School students wearing green (for Irish) shirts with 12/4 on the back and “I’m at the track with Jack” on the front.
The Jack in this case is Jack Walsh of Somerset, who had a horse in the fifth race, Somerset Mariton. The 12 represents Walsh’s 12 grandchildren. The four represents his children.
The connection to the Luck gang is A.J. Walsh, Jack’s grandson. The group is made up of students who played football, baseball and hockey together or who competed in track.
“Some of us are 18 this year,” said Brady Klatt, a member of the group.
Yes, we know what that means. The magic number to bet.
“I’ve had the winners in the first four races tonight,” Klatt said.
Klatt decided to bet Somerset Mariton to place. A length prevented him from collecting on that wager.
But it didn’t dampen his enthusiasm much.
“Hey, who do you like in this next one?” he asked.
ONLY RAIN WILL END A DRY SPELL
There is no magic elixir for a dry spell. Ballplayers know it, golfers know it. Lord knows, jockeys know it.
Take Paul Nolan, for instance. Nolan had visited the winner’s circle at Canterbury only three times heading into Friday night’s card.
Ballplayers will do a variety of things to shake themselves out of a slump. Some won’t shave until a bad streak ends. Others will put their shoes on in a certain order, comb their hair a certain way.
Nolan got out of town, so to speak.
He shook things up a bit on a trip to Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, winning both races he rode in on Wednesday night’s card.
That’s all the background needed to understand his comments after Friday night’s fifth race, a 5 ½ furlong dash for state-bred maidens.
Nolan had the mount on Ghost Skier, a 3-year-old gelding by Appealing Skier making his third career start. Nolan was aboard for the first two races.
Ghost Skier is no longer a maiden. Nolan rode him expertly to a clear win in a 12-horse field, and praised the heavens when they pulled up in front of the grandstand.
“I haven’t been able to find the winner’s circle,” he said. “Had to go to Canada to find it.”
Might have been just what the doctor ordered.
LES MARTENS MEMORIAL
Les Martens loved horses, loved horse racing and could be spotted around the grandstand on big race days and lesser ones as well. He was an owner of note, at one time a partner in Canterbury Hall of Fame horse Northbound Pride.
“He was a really amazing man,” said Bob Dainty, who operates Shamrock Valley Farm near Stillwater with his wife Lisa. “We used to have some great discussions. Dainty and Martens made several trips to the Kentucky horse sales together as well.
Marten, a professor emeritus in dentistry at the University of Minnesota, died in January at 72.
There are several memorials planned to honor Mr. Martens, including a memorial race on July 24 at Canterbury Park.
He was at Canterbury each year when the Northbound Pride Stakes was run. Northbound Pride died last summer in a freak accident at Shamrock Valley Farm. The race in her honor will be run again on Sunday’s card.
NORTHBOUND PRIDE A REAL SMARTY
Sherry Nolan was the groom for Northbound Pride during her wonderful three-year-old season at Canterbury Downs in 1989 when she won six of seven races, including three stakes races and missed a perfect season by a whisker.
The Northbound Pride Stakes will be run on Sunday’s card. Nolan recalled some special characteristics of the mare during the summer she cared for her.
“She had the eye as they say,” said Nolan. “She was extremely bright.”
Nolan provided this example of the horse’s intelligence:
“Every day I would hold up a foot to her and she would untie my shoelaces,” Sherry recalled.
“She was a very smart horse.”
But could she retie a lace?