BY JIM WELLS
Some fans have referred to him as a Ragin’ Cajun.
Trouble is, he directs all of his mental and emotional energy into sizing up his mounts _ psycho-analyzing them if it comes to that _ and then bending them to his will.
He’s pretty much in control of everything he does on the racetrack and not inclined to do anything hotheaded or rageful.
Clearly, the Cajun moniker does not fit all that well if taken literally.
What fans in Shakopee have come to understand is that racehorses are transparent to Tracy Hebert. He can read their emotions, rate them, gauge their stamina and coax them to dig for resolve they were unaware they had all while perched on their backs _ frequently for the first time.
Riding for the first time at Canterbury Park this meet, Hebert has grabbed attention with his riding ability and knowledge of the game.
In the fourth race of a rainy, soggy Saturday, for instance: Engaged in a stretch battle with Unleash the Beast, Hebert cajoled and all but begged a final burst from Power Paws to win that race for trainer Troy Bethke and and owner Rodney Miller.,
His gem for the day came two races later, however, in the $50,000 Hoist Her Flag Stakes at six furlongs when he guided Adhsilver to a 1 ¼ length victory over Mongoose Gold, with Theycallmeladyluck another 2 ¼ lengths back.
“I just told him to let her settle where she wanted. We knew she could run them down,” said trainer Gary Scherer who conditions the winner for his father, Merrill, Dan Lynch and Vernon Heath.
Moments later, Scherer watched a replay of the race and shook his head in agreement with what he saw. “Look at that,” he said. “He’s already hitting him and switching sticks, left -handed, right-handed and now he puts it away.”
Along with six rivals.
Hebert was back in the winner’s circle again after the seventh race, the $50,000 Brooks Fields Stakes, although this time with the second-place horse, Pursue a Dream.
Say it again?
Yes, Pursue a Dream finished second, a half length behind stablemate Spider Power and Jose Ferrer. Both horses are owned by Emerald Bay Stables of Minneapolis, a partnership of 20 owners, so the entry _ despite the rain _ made a joint appearance with their adoring owners, wives, girlfriends, friends acquaintances….
The race was run at 7 ½ furlongs on a very soggy turf course. The rain, in fact, chased four horses to the sidelines and reduced the field to eight horses and six betting interests.
The first two finishers are trained by Mike Biehler, who has one of the hottest barns on the grounds.
The stable was put together by Eric Olson of Minneapolis, who once worked in the barns at Canterbury, pursued the trade by moving to Kentucky, got homesick and returned to Minneapolis.
As he studied the race earlier Saturday, Olson thought Spider Power had a terrific shot at winning. But to finish one-two?
“I actually thought we would,” he said. “You gotta dream a little, don’t you. That’s what this is all about.”
Olson said that about 15 of the 20 owners were present for the race. Two of them Sean Rein of St. Paul and Mike Gaulrapp of Plymouth approached him afterward with congratulations.
Rein asked to hold the winning trophy, handed it b ack and made a suggestion. “We gotta share this trophy like they do the Stanley Cup,” he said to Olson. “So we each get a turn.”
Olson assured him that will be the case.
The horse fans who are hockey fans, too, then departed to watch the Penguins and Red Wings play for that other trophy.