Canterbury Park, Shakopee, Minn logo

Hay, Oats and Water: The Gray Filly

By Sheila Williams

The luckiest man on Minnesota Derby Day.

The hazy evening was unfolding in the Ubetcha Bar on Saturday evening. Following a great day of racing, in which I did not cash one bet until I decided to box two of Justin Evans horses for a miniscule return, I focused my attention on the yearling catalog.
I dog-eared five pages I found interesting.

Every seat before the auctioneers was full. I commend the MTA and its volunteers-especially Kay King for putting together a well-planned event.

This year I was one of the gum chewers. It was great to see new breeders, owners and consignors, as well as so many of our 40 year veterans. Although I read that the sales numbers were down, I am convinced that the pedigree and selection improvement throughout the catalog will bring breeders and owners far better horses and sales in the future once we send that fool in the White House back to Texas.

I remember years when the catalog was filled with Mr. Nothing out of the dam Miss Nothing. That is no longer the case. And we have Curtis Sampson and the shareholders of Canterbury Park to thank. We no longer have to worry whether Canterbury Park’s doors will open every spring.

I came out to Canterbury on Saturday to see Minnesota racing’s future. For people who love movement, and balance–whether it is going to the ballet, seeing thoroughbreds or watching a German shepherd in their floating trot–such athletes take your breath away. It must be that way for baseball or football fans as well.

I wanted to see an animal with that potential. Then, in she came.

Gray filly, by Sweetsouthernsaint, out of Cee Knows. She walked in with her handler, neck arched, her wide forehead with an intelligent, yet soft eye. She gazed at the crowd until her handler stopped her gently with a firm, yet gentle hand.

Beautifully balanced, poised, no longer a baby, but not yet a racy filly–anyone could see how she would fill out. She was the color of gray pastel. She could have been a water color by Degas. Her pink nostrils breathed in the sweat, the beer, the thick, sultry evening and fresh cut prairie grass.

Her ears pricked and rotated to the sounds that seemed to interest her. The microphones and the YUPS of the bid spotters did not annoy her.

I imagine she is the type of girl who makes up her mind quickly and holds strong opinions. She nickered and loudly whinnied. Her silver tail, dipped as black as India ink on its tip, popped up and down. She pawed the clay gravel and dirt with her hoof.

Pruning my roses on Sunday, I kept thinking of her. I imagined her feeling the weight of her first saddle. I imagined her appreciating a thick blanket over furry winter coat–unless she is so lucky to go to North Carolina or Florida for the long, bitter winter.

I imagined she is the kind of girl who will take her sweet time learning every new task for becoming a racing filly. Not out of stupidity, but because she will accept new tasks when she is good and ready, and not before.

The bidding moved very fast, very determined. To $26,000. When the hammer went down, she stomped both her back feet, and her muscles quivered from her withers down and over her shoulders.

I saw the winning bid was Wayne Simon of South Dakota. I wonder what he will name her. I want to follow her progress until she foals her first born.

The luckiest man at the track on Saturday was Wayne Simon. Mr. Simon, she has her first racing fan in me. My hunch is she will have many, many fans in her future. You Wayne Simon were the luckiest man at the track.