by JIM WELLS
Strike one up for the geriatric set, the pensioners, the old-timers in racing stables everywhere. Some of them refuse to give in to age and just keep running despite their years.
At an age when most of his contemporaries are rollicking in pastures, providing a ride for the local police department or waiting for the van with the mares to arrive, Heza Wild Guy is still showing the youngsters how to get it done.
On the racetrack.
Take Sunday in the $50,000 John Bullit Stakes, a turf event at about a mile and 1/16, for the latest evidence, before the largest crowd of the season, 17,257, on hand for Extreme Day, featuring racing camels and ostriches.
Heza Wild Guy, the old guy with the youngster Ry Eilkeberry in the irons, showed the young competition that age is not a factor in his case. This demonstration was gate to wire.
The nine-year-old gelded son of Wild Event got the fractions he wanted, the ride he needed and the wire at the right time for a half-length victory over Kaddish and Derek Bell, who were trying to force the issue in the final strides.
But as Kaddish dug in, Heza Wild Guy dug deep and got there first. “I was on a game one all right,” said Eilkeberry.
Trainer Bernell Rhone saddled three horses for the race, but it was the oldest horse in the field who got it done. “He’s a darn nice old horse,” said Rhone.
“We had the closers if someone wanted to run with him, but no one did.”
Nope. Look at the fractions: :50, 1:14 3/5, 1:38 and 1:44 and 1/5. Heza Wild Guy won for the 28th time in 69 career starts and pushed his career earnings to near $550,000.
He is owned by Will Carlson of St. Paul and Jerry Pint of New Prague.
Kaddish is trained by Shannon Ritter, a graduate of Tartan High School who used to ride at Canterbury but has been in the training end of the game for some time. She arrived from Chicago, where her horse ran most recently.
Kaddish finished a length in front of Purse a Dream, ridden by Lori Keith, trained by Mike Biehler and owned by Eric Olson and Emerald Bay Stables.
*A shipper from Arlington Park took on some of the local two-year-olds in the $35,000 Brian Barenscheer Stakes and proved too much for them to handle.
Ridden by Julio E. Felix and trained by Rafael Flores, Thewayitusedtobe had a commanding 9 ½ lengths on Mondovi at the wire, 10 ½ on the third-place horse, Spunkette, who set the early pace.
“He slipped a little coming out of the gate so we didn’t get the lead,” said Felix. “So we went to plan B.”
Which proved more than adequate.
Thewayitusedtobe became Thewayitis at the top of the lane, moving in front by two lengths and adding to the margin with every stride.
MTA YEARLING SALE
There were 14 trailers in the main parking lot around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. All but three of them bore Minnesota license plates. One was licensed in Iowa, another in South Dakota and the third was from Turtle Mound on the Chippewa Reservation.
Assuming each one had the purchase of a single horse at the MTA Yearling Sale in mind, three additional trailers would have been necessary to accommodate the 17 horses that sold Saturday night.
Although it wasn’t completely unexpected and reflects the general atmosphere in the horse industry right now, the result was sobering.
The 17 horses sold for $84,300 about half of last year’s total. The sale topper was hip no. 33, a colt by Werblin out of Bush Landslide, purchased for $17,000 by Wayne Simon.
“Saratoga was down 37 percent (at a recent sale),” said Kay King of the MTA.
There are other factors, too, related directly to the Minnesota market. “Our purse structure is not keeping up with other states that have slots,” King said. “There are just a lot of factors.”
The MTA had a small incentive to help attract buyers.
“We’re trying to be innovative,” King added. Next year the first colt and filly to break their maidens at Canterbury in June, July and August will be awarded a $500 bonus.
Patrons were in a buying mood at the silent auction Friday and Saturday to help pay down the remaining debt on the Dean Kutz Memorial Chapel.
Chaplain Ed Underwood said that of the approximately 80 items for sale, only four were not purchased.
“We feel it went really well,” he said. “The help from management was incredible. Mark Erickson and several employees came by several times to make sure we had everything we needed. They had tables set up for us with table cloths (on which to display the merchandise). One of the plumbers even stopped by to see if we needed anything. It made it an easy and pleasurable experience.”
The auction raised approximately $5,800. Another cash donation of $2,000 earlier this month increased the totalto nearly $8,000 to apply toward the remaining debt of $32,500.
Among the items auctioned:
There was a Polaroid camera, a horse lamp, an autographed Joe Mauer bat, braided lead ropes in your choice of colors _ pink, purple or red, white and blue.
For early Christmas shoppers, there were even items for the kids, Play Doh, Mr. Potato Head, a Tonka truck.
There was a Painted Pony for collectors, this one the five-card stud horse displaying a straight flush _ in spades.
There was a picture of Grindstone in the winner’s circle after the 122nd Kentucky Derby, with rider Jerry Bailey and trainer D. Wayne Lukas clearly visible.
There were also Peb drawings of Mike Smith, Lukas, Ron Turcotte and Secretariat and Laffit Pincay, Jr.
There were even several copies of a book from Sid Hartman, written by Joel Rippel, on Greatest Minnesota Sports Moments.
A copy sold for $15. For an mere $15 additional, a buyer was entitled to a copy autographed by the man himself.